The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A burnt offering

MotoJack's picture

A burnt offering

I made the no knead again today.This time I used 1/3rd whole wheat and 1/2 cup honey in the double batch dough.Baked in dutch ovens 30 minutes @ 500 degrees covered and 15 minutes uncovered.Bread is very tasty but the crust is black.Gunna do the same concoction again except I'll drop to 450 degrees and see if it'll prevent the burnt crust.Seems like the honey or the whole wheat flour or both are easier to burn than plain bread flour.I can't give this away because of how it looks.So....I will just have to eat it.I actually kinda like the char taste.Cut meself a couple slabs hot from the oven,slathered on half stick real butter and with a cup of good ol "members mark" sam's club coffee I had a pretty good lunch.Here's pics.Ok guys,now tell me something I don't know.Please/Thanks  


pmccool's picture


The sugar from the honey is probably contributing to the darkness of the crust.  After adjusting your temperature on the next run, you may want to cut back the honey to 1/4 cup for the following attempt.

Of course, 45 minutes at 500 dF is going to turn any crust really dark.


xaipete's picture

I've never made the no-knead bread but obviously your oven is too hot. First thing I would suggest is to get an oven thermometer and check what your oven temperature actually is--could be your oven's thermometer is off. Second thing I would do is lower the rack. It looks like your loaves are getting burnt during the final 15 minutes of baking, which says to me that they are too close to the heating element and or top of the oven. I have to bake my pan loaves on the middle lower shelf to avoid scotched tops.


qahtan's picture


 Yea, so they may be a bit dark but I bet there was a good flavour to that crust.

 It's a bit like how you like your toast, some people like it pale and puny (sp) looking.

 I like my bread toasted, nice and brown and crispy.... with gobs of butter. :-)))) qahtan

PiperBaker's picture

The honey is probably what's getting you that very dark crust; I'd reduce it just a touch and see how it comes out.  If you like the flavor you got, maybe a little over 1/4 cup (3/8?) and see how it works.  Also, since the whole wheat flour has more of the natural sugars still in it from the bran, it'll contribute to a dark crust.

And an oven thermometer isn't a bad idea, either, to keep your equipment honest!

MotoJack's picture

Well after the no knead sat for 19 hours plus the 2 hour proofing I did another bake.This time I used more honey 2/3 cup but I also made 4 small loaves instead of the 2 large.I lowered to 450 for the first 30 minutes covered and then to 380 for the remaining 15 minutes uncovered.Still crackling crust but didn't burn it this time.The extra honey however I will admit was too much for my taste.If I make this honey wheat again I'll use the 1/2 cup.I like the ratio of 4 cups bread flour/2 cups whole wheat flour.One of my loaves (bottom right) is lower than the others,and I think I was too rough handling the dough when I was getting it into the corning ware thing.It tasted good though and has good chew,big bubbles.Maybe I just didn't use as big a piece of dough.Dunno.  

Nancy Baggett's picture
Nancy Baggett

I have seen no-knead pot bread recipes that call for baking at 500 degrees F, but after testing several thousand loaves for my Kneadlessly Simple book, I am certain that that temp is too high; as you observed, the crust burns. Actually, I've found that when a recipe calls for a significant amount of honey 425 is sometimes too high--consider trying 400 F (assuming you don't wish to reduce the amount of honey). If the pot used has a dark interior the amount of browning increases--if you stick with the pots in your pic that won't be a factor though.

bwaddle's picture

MojoJack, thanks so much for your post. After many years, off and on, of baking bread of various degrees of wonderful, this week I've thrown away 3 loaves. And, I threw them away in the dead of night. I was tempted to go to the landfill with them so they couldn't be traced!

I was trying to convert my wholewheat sourdough recipe to either the no-knead or the stretch-and-fold technique combined with a 12 hour stint in the refrigerator. Per about 6 plus cups of flour, I use 2 T of honey and 2 T of molasses. I have had no problem in the traditional way (kneading/retarding) using a cloche in my commercial oven preheated to 500 and dropped to 475 for about 35 minutes. Then uncovered at 425 for about 15 minutes.

No-knead in the regular oven - burnt offering. Stretch and fold in the regular oven - burnt offering. Stretch and fold in my Cuisinart 100 brick oven - burnt hockey puck.

My ratio of whole grains to white is about 3.5 - 2.

I haven't had a problem from rough handling the white no-knead bread. I cook it at about 450 in the big oven.

I applaud your courage. You've made me feel a lot better. Not thinking of jumping into the landfill myself anymore.







jannrn's picture

I was also going to encourage you to lower the temp of your bread and check the oven with a thermometer, but I see you have already gotten that info! Excellent! Now may I ask that you send me that recipe as I would love to try to make it myself!!