The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No-knead bread and dutch oven problems

terrysandlin's picture

No-knead bread and dutch oven problems


I am still struggling withno-knead bread. I am using the Cooks Illustrated receipe in which they used an enameled 6 1/2 quart enameled dutch oven (Le Crueset? sp.) preheated to 500 degrees. The bottom is somewhat burned; however, the temp of the center of the bread is only 190 - 200 degrees (Cooks Illustrated recommends a 210 degree center of bread temp. I have tried lowering the temperature of the preheat of the dutch oven to 450 degrees and I still get the same results. I have tested my oven temperatures with different thermometers and they all agree the temperature is accurate. My dutch oven is an aluminum 6 quart Wagner Ware Magnalite.

Should I try a heaver dutch oven? Is it possible that the smaller dutch oven is making the bread higher and therefore the center of the bread takes longer to get to 210 degrees? Any suggetions would be appreciated.



Dillbert's picture

Terry -

it could be the color & oven design - depending on how your oven elements are arranged - (glowing red thingies visible top & bottom?) the heat comes in both convection/conduction and radiant forms.  a dark pot will absorb more radiant heat energy.  if your oven has visible glowing red elements on the bottom and the pot is close to them, the pot bottom is getting a fair dose of radiant heat.

possible solution(s) - lighter pot, wrap bottom in alum foil, put a sheet pan between pot and oven bottom . . .

typical no knead calls for baking covered then uncovered.  is that your routine?

if you're able to "control" the "too hot bottom" then you can extend the bake time to reach the interior temp you want.

terrysandlin's picture

I want to thank all the people who made suggestions.

I am using a gas oven and the Dutch Oven is sitting just a little below the middle of the oven. I am doing a covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for about 20 minutes.

I will try the sheet pan under the DO. I also ordered a Tramontina Dutch Oven from WalMart. It was only $35 on a special mentioned by another member of The Fresh Loaf. Cook's Illustrated recommends the Tramontina; therefore, I couldn't resist.

I will report on what has worked.


cahuck's picture

I do a semi-no knead sourdough in my Mario Battali 6 1/2 qt.  Pre-heat oven and DO at 500.  Add bread and lower temp to 425.  I always cook to temp - 15-202.  Always happy with the results BUT -

I've been baking the same dough without the DO and I like the results even better!  No steam or ice and thin crisp crust.  Nicer browning than in the DO. If I want a thick crust, a handfull of ice cubes and spray the top of the dough with water as putting into the oven.

Once you have a favorite tasting dough it's neat to see the different results from different cooking methods.

AW's picture

I suspect it's your pot. Aluminum conducts heat very quickly but does not retain it well. Glass and cast iron (enamled or not) heat slowly and retain heat very well. On my first attempt, I used a Pyrex casserole dish before investing in a dutch oven and it worked beautifully. Also, ensure your baking dish is in the center of your oven (not too close or too far from the heat source), and know that you don't need Le Creuset. While these dutch ovens are gorgeous and retain hot and cool foods beautifully, if I had to do it all over again I would have purchased a Lodge cast iron dutch oven I'm always worried I'm going to chip the Le Creuset enamel.

The Lodge pieces are very heavy but will last for generations. They are incredibly well-made.

LeadDog's picture

I second what AW says about the Aluminum.  That is the first thing I thought when I read about your problem.  I cook my bread in 4.5 quart cast iron Dutch Oven.  The temperature is 460°F for one hour.  This have been working great for me almost a year now.

mrfrost's picture

In another forum( , someone posted about the same problem. Someone suggested the the solution of placing the DO on a sheet pan.

The poster responded that it worked perfectly.

patnx2's picture

higher in the oven.  malybe?  patrick

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and the inside isn't up to temperature, then the oven temp is too hot.  

Now when it's the bottom burning, the pan is too hot and/or the heat source under the pan is too hot.  Change the situation.  There are many ways to go about it.  (already mentioned) Another would be to use the upper heat also in the oven if you are presently using only bottom heat.  Many ovens give a choice.  Others do not.  Look carefully at your selection.

Like suggested, turn the oven heat down.  This is especially true if you have any added sugar in the dough.  The other choice would be to put the bread in a cold DO and slide into a  hot oven.   If you have a small or energy efficient oven, they seem to recover rather quickly from the temp drop when the door is opened (better insulation) turn down the heat sooner to 425°F or even 400°F after the first 5 minutes.  450° is hot enough for a pre-heat.


ilovetodig's picture

I use cast iron dutch oven and preheat the lid as well as the pot.  It never sticks, the top browns and the bottom doesnt' burn.  I remove the lid after 30 minutes.  I cook it at 450*.

flournwater's picture

When I was looking for a vessel to enclose bread for baking I reviewed everything I could find.  For best value and good results, I chose the Lodge cast iron dutch oven and I've never been sorry.  It isn't as pretty as some of the designer types, but pretty isn't a big part of what I look for in cookware (pretty pots don't cook any better than well made ugly pots) and the price was not a shock to my check book.

Ambimom's picture

First of all Cooks uses the Tramontina dutch oven.  (It was one of their best buy selections).


Second, the reason your bread is burning is because it is too close to the bottom of the oven.  Move the rack higher.