The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No-knead 18 hour bread

bjames's picture

No-knead 18 hour bread

I regularly bake the no-knead 18 hour bread and have just started the suggested technique of letting it rise on parchment paper, and then transferring the whole thing to the preheated pot/pan to do the baking. I read somewhere a recommendation of using brown paper or wax paper instead of parchment paper. Parchment paper is costly and it also leaves indentations in the baked loaf because it is very stiff and inflexible. I tried brown paper bag, and probably should have sprayed it with "Pam", because the bread completely stuck to the paper, although the paper did not burn! Has anyone had any experience with this method? Or with wax paper? It's really great because the soft dough is easier to handle, and it doesn't deflate when dropping it into the pot!

LindyD's picture

Waxed paper is not for use in hot ovens; the wax will melt into your bread. The paper will also smoke the moment you lower the waxed paper into the preheated dutch oven. It may be cheaper than parchment, but do you really want waxed toast?

I buy parchment at a restaurant supply store. 50 full (flat) sheets for $3.50. I cut them in half and they fit perfectly on my cookie sheets.

Try cutting your parchment in two strips and placing them in the proofing bowl to form a cross. The dough goes on top of that. While there may be some indentations, they are at the bottom. That's worked for me.

Maybe buttering the brown paper would work. I know I can put popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag then microwave it and get popped corn (credit to Alton Brown) - so perhaps oil or butter is the answer for you.

Let us know if it does work.

ehanner's picture

You can buy parchment for kitchen use in the grocery store for the same cost as wax paper. Wax isn't intended for use in a hot oven under any conditions.

The other thing you might consider is placing the bottom of your pot on top of the dough-UPSIDE DOWN on a pizza stone or clay tiles. Actually if you have a pizza stone you can use a ss bowl just as easily. A 4 Liter bowl works perfectly. Lift the bowl with a spatula after 15 minutes and remove it with a hot pad. Does that make sense? Instead of trying to drop the dough into a pot, skip the pot and use a hot stone and cover the stone with a Stainless Steel bowl. It works great. Alternatives are an aluminum roasting pan that fits on the stone, a ceramic coated roasting pan bottom also works well. You should still use parchment regardless.

The No Knead bread movement got a lot of people interested and that's a good thing. The baking method leaves a little to be desired in my opinion. Maybe on a boat or on a camping trip but your home kitchen is equipped for way easier alternatives. Hope this helps.


SylviaH's picture

Hello, I saw a video that showed bread being slid into a very hot pot.  It was on a floured, bendable, reuseable plastic mat...I can't think of the name of them...sooo was a little smaller than a place mat...but do you know what I mean?  I have seen a lot of them and plan on getting's in that new line with those heat resistant plastic looking gloves for lifting hot pots ect...seemed like such a great idea...the proofed dough just slid real fast an easily into the hot pot....hope this helps some.  Sylvia

swtgran's picture

Before putting the pot in the oven to heat, I take the parchment and make sort of a mold out of the parchment by smoothing the bottom flat and molding the paper to the sides of the pot, creasing any areas wrinkling on the sides.  I kind of fold the taller pieces over the side and try to crease those.  I then carefully remove the paper and heat the pot. (I use an old cast iron chicken skillet with domed lid.) 

Once the pot and oven are hot and the bread is ready to go in, I simply drop the sort of molded parchement back into the hot pot and then drop in the bread.  Because the paper has been precreased against the sides I do not get parchement indentations.  You can adjust the bread to the center a little by tugging on the paper a little.  Terry