I’ve made several loaves of no-knead bread in a cast iron pot where you put the pot in the oven and heat it to a bazillion degrees and then plop the dough in the pot, cover and put in the oven to bake. Last year I took the pot out of the oven and nearly burnt my hand and dropped the pot. I dropped it on my ceramic cooktop and it went ka-pow and now I have a new cooktop.
I have made bread that way since but every time I worry I’m going to crash the cooktop. Now that I have some sourdough starter that I’ve named Esmerelda Pissemeyer I have been putting the loaf on a baking sheet and that has worked okay too.
The other day I was reading Celia’s post on Fig Jam and Lime Cordial where she talked about putting the bread in a pot without pre-heating it. I knew I had to try it.
Today I fed Esmerelda until she was fat and bouncy and made the dough. I know I cheat because I make the bread in the thermomix and it takes about 5 minutes start to finish but life is busy and arthritis is not my friend.
After the first rise that took several hours, I punched the dough down, shaped it into a round and put it in a greased cast iron pot. Celia uses an enamel pot but I don’t have one so I figured the only thing I would lose is a loaf of bread and my temper if it didn’t work.
It worked! It’s probably not as crunchy a crust but the bread is wonderful.
I know the bread looks like it was hacked but John kept saying, “It smells so good in here, can we cut it now?”
“Not until I photograph it, don’t be silly!” said every food blogger.
So I photographed it whole and then I said, “Oh all right, cut one side and I’ll wait until it cools and then I’ll be crafty about the back side being missing in the photo. I cut the first slice and smeared a little bit of butter and shared that one. He decided that a second piece was needed and why is it that some men can’t cut a loaf of bread without squooshing it?
I did my best to even it up but hey, THIS is why they tell you to wait until it’s cool to cut a loaf of bread. Some will tell you to wait until tomorrow morning. I never understood that because when it comes out of the oven and it smells like the best thing ever, that’s when you want to eat it, not tomorrow.
This isn’t the prettiest loaf of bread you’ll ever see but it sure was good!
- 150g bouncy, ripe starter
- 250g filtered water
- 25g olive oil
- 500g bakers’ flour
- 10g fine sea salt
- Add the ingredients to a bowl and squish them between your fingers until there are no dry bits. Scrape your fingers, cover the bowl and leave for 30 minutes to get acquainted.
- Scrape the dough onto a lightly oiled bench and knead for a minute or so until the dough is smooth.
- Place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for several hours until doubled in size.
- Once doubled in size, again scrape onto a lightly oiled bench and that should deflate the dough.
- Shape into a round ball by folding the edges into the middle. See video
- Place a piece of baking paper on a baking tray and place the ball of dough on the paper. Spray a piece of cling film with oil and snugly cover the ball of dough to prevent the dough getting a tough skin.
- Leave to rise to nearly double.
- Preheat oven to maximum when the dough has risen to nearly double in size.
- When oven is hot, remove the cling film and slash the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Just go crazy, slash, slash, slash. It will give your bread personality.
- Spray the bread with a little water and place the bread in the oven. Immediately drop the temperature to 220C with fan and bake for 20 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 175C and bake for a further 20-30 minutes or until the bottom of the loaf sounds like a drum when you thump it. Mine took exactly 20 minutes.
- The crust will be quite dark brown. If you have any question about doneness, put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Don't cut until fully cool (as if)
Preheat oven as in the recipe.
Once the oven is at temperature, slash the bread using a serrated knife, spray with some water and put the cover on the pot. Into the oven for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 220C.
After 20 minutes lower the temperature to 175C for a further 20-30 minutes.