The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Apology for help request on no-knead bread

terrysandlin's picture

Apology for help request on no-knead bread

Earlier, I asked for suggestions on Why i was burning the bottom of my bread in a dutch oven. I was following Cook's Illustrated Recipe. I am still having problems and i apoligize for repeating this problem.

 I am now using a cast iron Tramontona Dutch Oven. I have an internal temperature of 190 -195 degrees after 30 minutes in the gas oven with the lid on(temperature taken after taking the lid off) at 425 degrees (Dutch oven heated to 500 degrees previously) in a gas oven with the Dutch oven on the next to the lowest shelf. The temperature seems to go to 205 and just stays there for a long time with the lid off. If I wait until the interior temp of the dough reaches 210 degrees, the bottom is burned. I am using parchment paper with a spray of oil on the paper before putting the dough in the dutch oven.

Both of my Polder thermometers register boiling water at 207 degrees in Topeka, Kansas.

Are there any suggestions as to what I am doing wrong. I weigh my ingredients for the dough recipe.

Thank you,

Terry Sandlin

flournwater's picture

If your thermometer registers boiling water at 207 degrees in Topeka there's something wrong with either the method your using to take the temperature or the thermometer itself.  Topeka's elevation is just under 1000 feet so your thermometer should register something like 210 - 211 degrees.

Try leaving your parchment dry.  There should be not need to oil parchment for baking your bread.  You might also want to raise your dutch oven to the next higher rack position.  I use the rack supports just below center of my oven when I use the Dutch Oven for artisan beads.

Yerffej's picture

Take your bread out when the internal temperature reaches 205 on your thermometer.


clazar123's picture

Do you have an electric stove?

Remember that inside an oven the temperature is not evenly distributed. If the heating element is on the bottom of the oven, that could be a factor in the bottom of the pan overheating intermittently as the element goes on and off to maintain an AVERAGE temp of whatever you set the oven control at. Esp. if the temperature sensor is at the top of the oven.

If you have a gas stove, there could also be a problem if it maintains an average temp by letting the temp go very high and then dropping very low. It becomes a sensor issue on the oven control.Kind of see-sawing the temp inside the oven.

Do other things cook unevenly in the oven? Bottoms of cookies and cakes burn?

It may be interesting to buy 2 cheap oven thermometers and put one in the high area and one in the low area inside the oven.Set the oven to a mod high temp (400). Let the oven come up to temp and start doing readings as the element/burner cycles on and off.

Lab experiments can be fun!


Falsehat's picture

 Cook's menu is the only recipe I now use. It is noted for its thin crust,, and exceptional taste. Using an electric range, oiled parchment paper, cast-iron pot, the temperatures you use, my temperature tops out at 210°F. It takes a long time to get to 212°F. My altitude is about 660 feet. I find no difference in taste or baking times between tap and bottled water.

A few suggestions:

After mixing the dough, is it very sticky? I normally have to add additional liquid to get truly sticky, but not wet, dough.

Is the pot, directly over the flames? If so, slip a cookie sheet halfway between the flames and the pot to act as a shield.

Does pure bottled spring water boil at the same temperature as your tap water? Both my tap and bottled water boil at 208 -- 210°F.

After 30 minutes at 425°F, I take off the lid and insert a continuous readout thermometer. The initial temperature ranges between 160 -- 180°F and in about 10 minutes climbs to 210°F. I continue for an extra 10 minutes. I could go longer but a dark crust is not important to me. No matter what recipe I use, I could never get large holes in the crumb. Fortunately, I have no interest in large holes and my wife does not like thick hard crusts. Exceptional taste and a happy wife are my goals.

Have you tried to bake at 425°F for 30 minutes, +20 minutes with the cover off at 425° F., ignoring your thermometer? Hopefully you will find that the crust is slightly damp, a thin lightly colored crust, and a comparatively tight crumb, complete with a marvelous taste.

terrysandlin's picture

Thank you for all the suggestions.

My dough is rather sticky when stiring it and it is rather wet when removed from the bowl after 18 hours of proofing.

My latest effort was the following:

 Last night I baked my bread in preheated pot (500 F) and turned down the temp to 425 after putting the dough in a non-oiled parchment covered pot. I also had a large Fibrament baking stone on the lowest rack of the oven. I leave the stone in the oven almost all the time as recommended in the pizza making forum.

I baked for 30 minutes on the middle rack of the oven and then took the lid off the pot. After about 18 minutes the center of the dough registered at 204F. I took the pot out of the oven, took the bread out, placed a ring on the bottom. Set the bread on the ring so it would not touch the bottom of the pot, replaced the lid, and left it there for about 25-30 minutes. I then took the bread out and let it cool completely. The bottom was not necessarily burnt; however, it was somewhat dark like the bottom of a pizza. The bottom was a little too tough, but the rest of the bread was terrific. I had great crumb and excellent taste. Yes, the holes were large and the bread was moist. I should have taken a picture but the bread was consumed.  FYI the top crust was not as crisp as usual.

I am going to try some suggestion you have made and also some from personal emails. I believe that my problem is waiting for 210 F. I am always getting a temperature of about 190 F when I take the lid off the Dutch oven after 30 minutes baking.

Highest regards,

Terry Sandlin

I am beginning

Abracaboom's picture

If your thermometer reads 207º when the actual temperature is 211º, and you want to bake your bread to 210º, you should take your bread out when your thermometer reads 206º.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven


I baked for 30 minutes on the middle rack of the oven and then took the lid off the pot. After about 18 minutes the center of the dough registered at 204F.

Remove the bread from the dutch oven and place naked on a rack inside the oven.   204°F is almost done, leaving the crust open for browning on all sides might finish off the bake nicely.

Chuck's picture

I found my baking thermometer read wrong by a handful of degrees. So I changed the orientation of the probe, and all the weird problems went away! Maybe this is what's messing you up too.

The probe has a bend near the cable end, so it's overall kinda an 'L'. Initially I stuck the long part fully into the loaf, then let the short part turn whichever way was easiest, which was down. That's what resulted in a slight inaccuracy.

So then I tried again poking the long part fully into the loaf, but forcing the short part to tun upward. That was more accurate.

Apparently with the bent portion of the probe pointing down, heat carried up from my baking stone into the probe metal and all the way to the other end where it messed up the readings.

Also remember that as the crumb temperature approaches its final value at the boiling point of water, it becomes "asymptotic". That's math lingo which loosely translated means "doesn't change hardly at all over a long time". I use my baking thermometer to get it right when I make a new recipe, but after that I just go by the clock (sometimes with a little help from one of those "instant read" thermometers).

And remember the temperatures are really down from boiling rather than up from zero. But that's a mouthful to say, so the temperatures just generally assume "at sea level". If water boils for example at 209F at your altitude, your bread won't get beyond 209F until it's thoroughly burnt.

(Apparently unlike many others, I've found the cable coming from the thermometer probe to be a sufficient nuisance that I only use my baking thermometer part of the time. It took just one experience with getting the cable caught and pulling an unbaked loaf off my baking stone onto the oven door to make me somewhat judicious about how often I use it.)


highmtnpam's picture

I thanked you before, but I have been baking with the information you had given me about temperature and altitude.  Many of the problems I had been struggling with just disappeared.  Now I can concentrate on scoring and crumb. Your technical knowledge really adds to the site.  Thank you again