Tips For Baking No Knead Bread in a Dutch Oven

by dustytoes

No-knead bread recipes are everywhere these days but not all recipes are good. Here I share my own experience and tips for baking bread in a Dutch oven.

Most of us have searched the internet for recipes, and in doing so have found lists of varying recipes for the same food. This is the case when searching how to bake no-knead bread, and more specifically, using a Dutch oven.

Recently I purchased my own LeCreuset and Lodge dutch oven cookware. While searching for one-pot cooking recipes I found that many people make their own bread in the Dutch oven. Of course, I wanted to try this for myself. This is where I began getting confused.

More research, and trial and error, has paved the way to the perfect compilation of bread baking ideas. Now I will share with you my own tips for baking perfect Dutch oven no-knead bread.

What Size Dutch Oven Do You Need?

Simple white bread is made up of flour, salt, yeast and water.  Most of the No-knead recipes I found called for three cups of flour.  I was led to believe that I needed a large, 5 or 6 quart Dutch oven to bake it, but it turns out a 3 or 4 quart pan works just fine.  There is no need to splurge on a big pot.

In fact, a smaller pot will require the bread to bake upwards for a taller loaf.  A bigger pan means a shorter, round loaf.

Information About Buying Dutch Ovens

Read these articles which compare the top brands such as LeCreuset, Staub, Emile Henry, and Lodge cookware.
Cast iron dutch ovens run the spectrum from very expensive to quite affordable. What should you look for before buying?
Lodge are famous for their cast iron dutch ovens. They now make enamelled cast iron dutch ovens for use in a standard ovn and we review the best examples available

Make One Loaf or Create a Big Batch of Dough

Most No-Knead recipes give amounts for one loaf of bread.  The book "The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day", written by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, gives a basic bread dough recipe which can be saved in the refrigerator.  It seems similar to the old "sourdough" bread with starter that I used to have, except the dough is ready to go.  

The video below shows how to mix the bread and store it, but they say to bake the loaves on a pizza peel or baking stone with water added to a pan below.  I think you could just as easily put a loaf into your Dutch oven to bake.  A Dutch oven creates its own moisture within the sealed pot and gives the bread the nice crust.  

The video does not give measurements because they want you to buy their book!  The link is below, and you can "look inside" to see if it's something you really want to have.

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Misleading title, but the authors give us a big bread dough recipe which is stored in the refrigerator to use over 14 days time.

Quick Bread Baking

Bread in five minutes? What?

Everyone wants cooking to be quick these days.  People are busy, and feeding families over and over, day in and day out, gets tiring.  I know this first hand.  The "Five Minute" bread book draws us in because five minutes is quick!  Of course, bread cannot be made in five minutes.  The process of making the dough, and having it ready to bake, is the five minute promise.  

I do like the idea of having dough in the fridge which can be pulled out, let sit, and bake.  This is what the authors offer.  Once your bread dough is made, it's that simple.

The Five Minute Bread Baking Book

You must buy this book to find out the recipe used in the video above.
The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Rev...

Basic Kitchen Tools Used For Baking Bread

See the Amazon links below to buy these basic tools.

Besides storage containers for flour, and basic measuring cups, you will need a large bowl, or 6 quart container for larger amounts of dough, to mix the dough and let it rise.  A Danish dough whisk will combine the ingredients easiest by hand.  If you have a standing mixer, use the dough hook.

Whether you save the dough for later in the fridge, or use the single loaf method, after it rises (usually 8-24 hours), it will be shaped and allowed to rise again.

When it's time to shape the loaf, put the dough on a pastry sheet or a cutting board covered with flour. I prefer to use a big cutting board because it's nice and sturdy.  You could also use a flat, stone baking pan if you have one.  This is when the bench knife is used to lift the dough to help with shaping.  Fold the dough over itself to form a ball.

Kitchen Tools For Baking Bread

A "bench knife" scrapes and cuts the dough. A good food grade, large container is needed to store extra dough. A Danish dough whisk mixes the flour and water.
AmazonBasics Multi-purpose Stainless ...Cambro SFC6451 Li 6SFSCW135 Camsquare...The Original Danish Dough Whisk - LAR...

What I've Learned From Baking No-Knead Bread

Don't trust all recipes you see online!

Like everything on the internet, be wise in discerning the real from the fake.  Many bread baking recipes call for using parchment paper.  I was baking my first loaf of bread on parchment paper in my LeCrueset oven when I looked at the writing on the roll of parchment paper.  It said to use in oven up to 400 degrees!  This bread bakes at 450.  If parchment paper is not to be used as such a high heat, why are they saying to use it?

The truth is that the bread plops right out of the Dutch oven easily without the use of paper.

Kneading bread is time-consuming and takes muscles!  I've done it.  No wonder the "no-knead" method is so enticing.  This bread is very basic though.  That means it does not have a ton of flavor.  But, variations of the bread can include herbs and spices, with nuts and seeds and more to create a more flavorful food.  

You Don't Need to Use Parchment Paper!

The bread will bake just fine without the paper. This was my first attempt at baking a loaf.
My bread baked using paper
My bread baked using paper

Clean Up Tip

Once the bread dough is removed from the bowl and ready to bake, let the dough remnants left in the bowl dry up so they can be scraped off into the trash.  Sticky dough is difficult to rinse down the drain and could clog up the pipes.

Use the Freezer to Keep Extra Bread Ready to Eat

Homemade bread is very inexpensive and has no unwanted preservatives.

I am a big proponent of utilizing the freezer.  I am a single person, cooking for me only.  The fact that I can make a meal, or a loaf of bread, meant for four or more people, means I can freeze leftovers for later use.

Actually, I eat very little bread.  But I do enjoy toast with my breakfast and rolls with my soup.  Occasionally I crave some bread.  The fact that I can whip up a simple loaf, slice it and freeze most of it, is very appealing. 

Homemade bread does not stay good for long.  By the second day you should slice the bread and freeze whatever you won't eat in freezer bags so you are able to remove one or two slices at a later  time.

No Knead Bread With Steve Gamelin

Videos let you see the people who actually do cook this way!

Bread Baking Videos

At least I know the video makers have really made the bread and not just copied a recipe onto their blog.

There are many bread-baking videos on YouTube and I like the idea of watching someone actually make bread.  A blogger can say they have tried the recipe, but who actually knows?  I've read blogs written by people who are looking to make money and not really sharing helpful and good recipes. For them it's all about the money.  True foodies will share real recipes and helpful tips so the reader will create good food.  If they make money on top of that, good for them.

Steve Gamelin is one person who goes step by step through the process of making this simple bread dough.  He offers helpful tips and has cookbooks available as well.  The video is a bit long-winded but he does have good tips to share.

Popular No-Knead Bread Recipe Books

The video creator above offers bread baking books.
28 Popular No-Knead Breads: From the ...Introduction to No-Knead Turbo Rolls ...

Keep it Simple and Make it Easy

The whole point of no-knead bread is to have an easy-to-make loaf.  It's not necessarily healthy, but serves the purpose if you make a meal that requires an accompanying slice of crusty bread.  

For those who want to branch out from the basic recipe there are cookbooks with loads of ideas for rolls, flavored bread, and desserts.

 

Updated: 01/21/2019, dustytoes
 
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Do you make your own bread?

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dustytoes on 01/24/2019

Thank you Tolovaj for the tip on keeping homemade bread fresh longer. I've never heard of the oil trick! I will keep this info in mind next time I bake a loaf and see what happens.

Tolovaj on 01/24/2019

Hi! I bake my bread for decades now and am always willing to learn a few new tricks. Thanks for all your work!

The no-knead bread sounds cool to me too. If I may share a tip...

You mentioned the home made bread doesn't stay good for long. You can can 'prolong' it for additional day with an addition of some oil in the baking mass. I am talking about one to two spoons for a loaf (it really depends on too much factors, including percentage of water, type of flour, temperature of room etc.). At the end of the day everybody learns to make the best bread with his or her own feeling.

dustytoes on 01/22/2019

I do put a few crumbs out, but that brings squirrels and lots of bluejays. I usually freeze one or two slices together in separate bags so I can easily use them. Thawed (unfreezed- LOL) bread tastes just fine. I think you can freeze most bread for 3 months at least but have to be careful of freezer burn. I often freeze bread because I can't eat a whole loaf before it goes bad.

DerdriuMarriner on 01/22/2019

dustytoes, Thanks for the practical information and product line. Do you not put the crumbs out for birds?
How does freezed bread taste, how do you un-freeze it and what is the limit for how long you can keep bread freezed, unfreezed, freezed...?

dustytoes on 01/21/2019

Very true. And it's better when toppings such as garlic butter is added. I enjoyed mine toasted.

blackspanielgallery on 01/21/2019

Taste is subjective, so perhaps others will find it quite tasty.

dustytoes on 01/21/2019

Apparently it has something to do with the fact that this bread dough sits for a long time before baking. It's not the best tasting bread in the world, but it's fast and easy.

frankbeswick on 01/21/2019

Interesting and informative. How is it that you can do without kneading?

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