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When I make my no-knead bread, the bottom of the bread always becomes extremely thick - almost like the skin of an african elephant.

I bake the bread in an IKEA 365+ pot made of stainless steel. The bottom of the pot is quite thin.

Do you experience something similar when baking and do you have any suggestions on how to avoid breaking the teeth on my guests?

My recipe:

  • 600 g flour (I have tried all variants)
  • 5-6 dl water
  • A small hand of salt
  • A pea of yeast

Dissolve the yeast in some water. Add flour. Add the rest of the water. Add salt. Mix the ingredients well. Wait for 12 hours. Pre-heat the oven and the pot to 275°C. Take out the pot, open it and add the mixture. Put it in the oven. Wait for 30 minutes. Take of the top of the pot. Wait for 15 minutes.

Take out the pot and take out the bread. Eat it now if you like hot bread, or wait 20-30 minutes if you want the bread to become less moist.

  • There's not enough information in your post, please edit and add your recipe and the method you use. – GdD Mar 27 '15 at 12:56
  • How much rise are you getting during the initial bench. Does this recipe double in size? A lot more info is needed. What does the consistency on the dough look like (is it runny or viscous)? – Chef_Code Mar 27 '15 at 17:21
  • Gut feeling: Might be a bit too much water. According to a quick research, most reipes on the web would use 4 1/2 - 5 cups of water. But some other questions: How large is your pot? Do you shape (fold) your bread or dump it straight from the bowl into the pot? – Stephie Mar 27 '15 at 19:10
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    What do you mean by "very thick" exactly? It is normal that homemade bread has a crust thicker than that of storebought bread. Are we talking 3 mm or 3 cm, or what? – rumtscho Mar 28 '15 at 13:13
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I have been baking no-knead bread in a heavy porcelain 2-qt.soufflé dish with a glass lid with great success and consistent crust on all sides. My recipe is based on Jim Lahey's magical recipe at http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11376-no-knead-bread but I use only 1 1/2 cups water, 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 2 cups of bread flour,1 1/4 tsp. non-iodized table salt, and 1/4 tsp. instant yeast. SAF red label yeast provides consistent results. Once, I forgot to turn and shape it before baking so now I usually fold the dough a few turns in the bowl once earlier in the day and allow it to continue fermenting until baking time. (If I do turn it out to shape it as described by Lahey, I prefer rice flour to wheat bran to prevent sticking.)

I preheat the oven, pot, and lid at 550°F for half an hour and then pour the bubbly, risen dough into the pot. The nearly-liquid dough has visible gluten 'legs' as it is poured and sizzles as it hits the pot.

I reduce the oven temperature to 475°F and bake the dough for 30-35 minutes covered and another 15 or so minutes uncovered or until the internal temperature is 210°F. It can be baked directly on the rack for the last 5-10 minutes for a drier crust. I allow it to cool to 80-85 degrees before slicing to be certain that the final phase of bread baking, gelatinization, is completed and this very hydrated bread's interior isn't gummy when cut.

Heavy porcelain, ironstone, glass, cast iron all work well - slow cooker inserts or all manner of heavy vessels as described on baking blogs can be used. This dough is so wet that the bread takes the shape of the vessel in which it is baked.

The thermal mass of the vessel is important for storing and radiating heat energy to the bread dough. A vessel that is thick and dense such as cast iron, dense ceramic, or glass will more closely replicate the heated mass of the brick ovens traditionally used for artisan breads than will a thin vessel with less mass.

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  • Hello and welcome to the site! As a good amout of our comunity members are from countries that meassure in °Celsius, temperature data is always a bit ambigous if not explicitly stated. I took the liberty of adding the °F for clarity. (Some even advocate the use of both temperature scales, but IMHO it's fine as ist is.) – Stephie Mar 28 '15 at 20:13
  • IMHO this answer captures the essential point: thermal mass of the pot. – Stephie Mar 28 '15 at 20:14
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The problem is that the dough is so moist on most no-knead breads, that the weight of the bread itself will crush down, leading to a difference in texture between the top and bottom of the loaf.

I suspect that's the reason that they often tell you to bake them in a pre-heated cast iron pot -- so that the bottom will set before the warmth of the oven causes the dough to relax so it crushes down from the weight.

Without the pot, I've had good luck with enriched doughs and breads that don't need to rise as high (rolls, loaves shaped more like a chibatta than a perfectly round boule) ... but I haven't done enough testing to say for sure that they would be better.

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  • I'm already preheating my pot to the maximum temperature (275°C) of my oven. Would you suggest adding less water to the mixture to get a less moist dough? – niemion Mar 27 '15 at 17:13
  • @niemion : you mentoned that the bottom of the pot is thin, which means that you won't have as much thermal energy stored ... which is why I mentioned the typical cast iron advice ... but I've managed good no-knead bread without it, making less tall loaves. (I've not actually tried using a thinner pot to compare ... my thinner pots are too tall for my oven, or have knobs & handles that aren't heat-safe.) – Joe Mar 27 '15 at 19:42
  • Aaah, I see. Any advice on what cast iron pots to choose and which to avoid? – niemion Mar 27 '15 at 22:39
  • @niemion : sorry, I only have one dutch oven, so I don't have enough experience to say what to really look for when baking these loaves other than heat-proof knobs. (other than find one about the size of the loaves of bread you're trying to make, I would assume) – Joe Mar 28 '15 at 0:18

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