The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No Knead bread.Why a wooden spoon?

MotoJack's picture

No Knead bread.Why a wooden spoon?

I'm a new bread maker.Only a few days at this and I've not tried anything except the real easy (but very tasty) no knead type bread.I see that most of the people telling how to mix the no knead tell me to mix using a wooden spoon.I do not own a wooden spoon.I used a big metal spoon untill my dough whisk was delivered and now use that.It is metal with a wooden handle.What's up with the wooden spoon anyway?If I get one and use it,will the bread come out different? 

LindyD's picture

Not sure what recipe  you're looking at, but the original no-knead recipe credited to Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery and published by the NY Times makes no mention of any spoon, let alone a wooden one.

Your hands will do a very nice job.


flournwater's picture

The use of a wooden spoon is, I believe, an extension of the old warning against using metal spoons in yeasted recipes because some metals react with yeast and tend to destroy it.  So, instead of saying use a stainless steel, plastic, or wooden spoon, they simply recommend a wooden spoon.

But I agree with hands as your best tool.  They also give you a better "feel" for the dough and shorten the learning curve for knowing how to read your dough with your hands.

Dragonbones's picture

Is there any evidence that " some metals react with yeast and tend to destroy it", or is this just an old wives' tale? 

flournwater's picture

I don't recall anything in chemistry class that spoke to the issue of yeast having an adverse reaction to metals.  But I suspect the rule of no metal with yeasted preparations might have come from the claim that metal objects transmit their metalic flavor to food (at least they did before silver plating and stainless steel) when they react with acids (salts, etc.) in a food preparation.  But that's just my guess.

I use stainless steel bowls and stainless steel spoons, scrapers and whisks in bread making without ill affect.  If you find some credible information relative to the chemistry of metal vs yeasted mixtures I'd sure like to read it so would appreciate it if you would post it here.

lynnebiz's picture

I also use stainless steel spoons and bowls (well, my usual go-to 'bowl' for my no-knead bread is actually a huge plastic cake storage container, but there are less people living here now - fewer bread eaters - so I've reverted back to my stainless steel bowls). Never had a problem with contact w/them. Use instant yeast I buy in bulk and keep in the freezer for a couple of years, too.

I have plenty of wooden spoons, but I'm using them all for coffee roasting now - I go through them quite fast.

Janknitz's picture

The whisk will make sort, easy work of mixing the very wet dough and it's easy to clean. It's hard to mix with your hands because it's so wet and sticky. A wooden spoon isn't necessary--they probably suggested a wooden spoon because it's a sturdy mixing implement that MOST people already have.

deblacksmith's picture

Like all of the other comments here, the dough whisk is great.  Mine is from KAF and works great for hand mixing.  I hate to think about how many pounds of dough I have mixed with one.

They mix better and faster than a wooden spoon.  Of course a wooden spoon of some type or the hands has been used since man started making bread.


cryobear's picture

If you work in food service, you'll find out that soft woods and soft metal is very pours and small particals of food will get stuck in the microscopic holes.  Then they breed germs.  For spoons, use only hard woods like oak.  The only metal that is classed as safe is nickle stainless.  I remember as a kid in the late 30's, all the people that died when alum cook ware first came out.  Storing tomatoe products in it was fatal.  BTW it will kill yeast, try it and see.

Bob Farrell

Mustang 51's picture
Mustang 51

Oak is a very porous wood. I would not recommend it for a direct food contact surface. You would be better off with a tighter grained wood like maple. Also, wood naturally has some anti-bacterial properties.


deblacksmith's picture


 Not interested in starting a flame war here – but aluminum is a very safe metal for use with foods.  It has been in use in many forms for cooking with the aluminum in direct contact with the food.  Most large commercial food services use it for all types of food ware.  Stainless lined looks nice but cost more.  Yes, it will be attacked by high acid foods such as tomatoes.

 Here is one site, there are many with information on its food safety.

 As to stainless steels the 300 series, mostly 304 is widely used for food service and chemical processing.  It is a chrome nickel stainless steel with 17.5 to 20 % chrome and 8 to 11 % nickel.  Another common stainless we use in our kitchens is 400 series in the form of knifes.  440 stainless would be typical with 12 to 14 % chrome.  One of the major differences with the 400 series stainless steels is that they can be hardened by heat-treating.  The 300 series cannot.  Why use 300 series over a 400 series?  Because the 300 series have a better corrosion resistance to most chemicals.

 You can tell the difference between the two in that 300 series is non-magnetic while the 400 series is magnetic.  Some cheaper cookware is sometimes made from 400 series – this doesn't make it unsafe or anything it is just not as corrosion resistant.