On the Cooks Illustrated Forums, I came across a lively thread about the No-Knead Bread phenomenon that has been sweeping the country. In November of 2006, the New York Times ran an article and video about an ingenious method to make hearth bread at home easily. You don’t need any special equipment or bread making skills. I was intrigued.
The only thing that might be considered special equipment is a covered vessel to bake the bread in. They used a cast iron dutch oven which I have. However they suggested a 6 -7 quart one and mine is only a 3 1/2 quart. Luckily as I read down the thread, this size actually works out better. The one problem is that the bread bakes in a hot oven, 450 – 500 degrees. The Le Creuset dutch oven that I have has a phenolic knob that is only oven safe to 350 degrees. Some people have covered the knob in foil or removed it before baking. I’ve experienced the catastrophe of baking plastic, so I wanted to avoid that mistake again. 🙂
There are a few options. You can remove the knob, cover it in foil and hope, or replace the knob with something that is oven safe. Luckily, or perhaps because of the new bread baking phenomenon, Le Creuset now makes a stainless steel knob that is safe at any oven temperature. It’s pretty too. I have one on order from Cutlery & More. In the interim, we went to the hardware store and bought a ceramic drawer knob. I’ve baked two loaves and this worked really well. It’s not as pretty as the Le Creuset, but it was only $1.69.
From what I understand, you can also bake the bread in Pyrex, stainless steel, basically any sturdy pot or lidded casserole that can withstand the heat.