The Fresh Loaf

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Aarggh! Need some help here with cold-start baking

Cooky's picture

Aarggh! Need some help here with cold-start baking

Hi, guys. I am mightily frustrated this afternoon following my third bad experience with cold-start baking of no-knead bread. I know I've made it work a few times, but when it goes bad, it's a mess. Basically, the bread bakes into the pan and cannot be dislodged without destroying the loaf altogether. I've tried it with two different baking vessels, both of which work great when preheated to blistering temps. I have had the same experience with traditional loaf pans - even when I oiled the heck out of them first.

 Other than bare-stone baking, is there any way to make cold-start work using a vessel?

 Thanks for any guidance.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

onto a cold stone in a cold oven? I'm not sure if bare necked stone baking from a cold oven would be successful. The stone would take a long time to heat up forcing the bottom to expand late in the baking thus wedging the loaf into the form making it difficult to remove. This can also happen when not enough heat is under the baking loaf. If you cold start your bake, use a rack to support the forms. If most of the heat is under the loaf at the start of the bake, the loaves tend to rise higher and lift themselves away from the forms. If there are still sticking problems and pale bottoms of loaves when using wire racks, the oven coils or heat distribution in the oven needs to be checked.

Did you try dusting the cold smeared vessels with flour, crumbs, nuts, or seeds or rolled oats first. If the vessel is pre-heated and you drop the dough into it, try rolling the dough into flour, crumbs, nuts or seeds first.  Oil has a bad habit of running back down to bottom of pan and leaving bare spots so one has to be quick with the dusting.  

Try using pans with no-stick lining that have been seasoned. Or place no-knead dough on baking parchment paper inside the forms. Normally as the crust touching the form bakes brown, it releases, if not, tends to stick when underdone. I've lined box forms by first turning them upside down and folding the parchment over the form to shape, then flipped the form over placing the liner inside. Washing forms or pans in the dishwasher can get them too clean and cause sticking as well.  Well seasoned pans don't need washing, just a quick wipe with a damp cloth.

Mini O

Oldcampcook's picture

I use a cast iron Dutch Oven for both hot and cold start.  I use parchment paper under the dough in both instances and have had good results.  I cut the parchment paper just enough larger than the dough to use the edges as handles, especially when placing the dough in a hot DO.

I have not used anything else for the no knead procedure, but may have to try with loaf pans and sheet pans.  I do not have a stone so everything is pans or sheet pans as well as the DO.


JERSK's picture


      Oiling a pan doesn't necessarily help it to not stick. Using butter or a spray such as PAM work better because they contain lecithin which helps to release the dough. Also, they won't run like oil and oil can actually bake into your bread aggravating the sticking problem. I've never tried no knead dough or baking bread in cast iron., but parchment should help release the bottom at least and the sides can be easily cut free. Resting the bread in the baking vessel  for a while before trying to turn it out should also help. Actually, you should always let it rest a bit as the bread is still cooking when remove from the oven.

JIP's picture

Huh.... why not just pre-heat?.


It seems like if you break the rules and things fail mabye you should just go back to following the rules.  I think sometimes people do these things (no pre heat/no knead) just to do things differently when these processes and procedures have been proven to work over many many years of trial and error and they work.  

KipperCat's picture

I don't know about Cooky, but I love a cold start because it eliminates the need for timing the oven preheat.  I just watch the loaf, and put it in the oven when it's ready.


KipperCat's picture

If I remember right, I got the best results when greasing the pan heavily with butter. And this on eyou probably know - sometimes a sticking loaf will release just fine after resting for a few minutes out of the oven.

JMonkey's picture

My guess is that the cold start doesn't have anything to do with why your bread is sticking to the pan. It's probably not well-oiled enough. Butter does work, but I've had the best luck with a 2 parts oil, 1 part lecithin mix that I spread in a thin layer all around the pan. Usually I take 1/2 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup soy lecithin granules (it's what the local health store had -- only place I could find it) and then blend it together in a food processor. I understand the liquid lecithin works well, too, but I couldn't locate any nearby.

I keep the mixture in the fridge when I'm not using it. Since I switched (thanks to the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book), I've had no problems with sticking. I do sometimes need to run a case knife down the sides because the bread's expansion has left it in a pretty tight spot, but I do it gently and, thereafter, it just slides right out.

For what it's worth, I do all my pan breads cold-start, these days.

Good luck!

ehanner's picture

As stated above, cold start using a stone probably isn't ever going to work using a conventional formula and method. I have had good luck using slack no knead style doughs on a parchment covered baking sheet covered with a bowl, covered with a clay bell, covered with a Stainless Steel cover using injected steam .

The first Month I got involved in artisan baking and tried to bake something every day, my electric bill was nearly $500. I was learning about proofing and yeast activity and the oven was all preheated for a lot longer than necessary. Now that I know about baking on a parchment covered pan, I rarely preheat for more than a few minutes to get the oven started on its way to hot. The bill is $150-170. That's a lot of wasted energy.


leemid's picture

If you have a bare steel stainless pan, frying pans are easiest to do this experiment in, try this. Put the cold pan on a burner, add a small about of oil, turn on the heat. When it reaches a medium heat at which you might cook something, an egg or some beef come to mind, add that item to cook. Granted, you might cook an egg cooler than beef but this is an experiment. You will find that the food sticks excellently to the pan. When done, clean up the pan really well. Then put it back on the burner and apply the same heat but keep the pan empty. When it comes up to heat, add the oil and then cook. You will find that the food does not stick, or much less so than the other way. Reading classic cooking books reveals that they all say to preheat a pan up to cooking temp before adding fats or foods. The fat behaves differently on the metal under the different conditions. Of course, all of you should be knowledgeable enough to understand that I am not talking about non-stick coated cookware. Avoid over-heating such items and avoid sustained long term empty heating.

Those who wok cook in an traditional wok already know this principle. In fact, I can tell the difference between the heated bottom of the wok and the less heated sides. In my wok, I always heat it until it just begins to darken, or sometimes just until it begins to turn bluish. Nothing ever sticks to that. Granted, the oil might smoke a bit...

While I agree with that said above, it logically suggests that putting food items into cold, oiled metal isn't the best of ideal methods. I have done cold start baking, and quite successfully, although I don't ever use oil. I prefer to use harder fats with higher melting points that prove for me to help dislodge baked items more consistently. While I'm at it, if one expects to cold start bake with stones in the oven, expect failure. The ultimate extent of that concept is to cold start bake without turning on the oven. The reason we put heat absorbing items on heat producing items is to keep things cool. A heat sink on a computer processor is to keep the processor from getting too warm. Until the baking stones approach temperature, that's how they perform. After, they act exactly as we want them to, exactly why we put them in there in the first place.

That's my story,


mariana's picture


Hi Cooky,

to guarantee a good release, coat your baking vessel with the following coating, then pour the dough in and place the pan in the oven, hot or cold, doesn't matter:

Recipe for Better Than PAM coating

1/2 cup corn oil or canola oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature (Crisco shortening is good)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Note: for a smaller portion you can mix equal volumes of smaller measuring units, e.g. 1 Tbsp of each ingredient, or 1/4cup of each ingredient, etc.
  1. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer beat until mixture has multiplied in volume, and resembles marshmallow cream.
  3. Place in a storage container, and store on the counter, or in a cupboard.
  4. In hot weather, it may be refrigerated, but remember to take it out of the fridge, as it should be room temperature for easiest spreadability.
  5. Mix before using then brush pans gently with pastry brush or a clean paper towel.



Good luck!