To the few folks who'd been discussing it with me over the past few days, I've tested out three variations on the bread tonight in three different pieces of Le Creuset.
I made a double batch of the no-knead bread recipe found in Jim Lahey's book. After 18 hours of rise, I divided it into three parts: a half piece and two quarters. They then rose for 2 more hours inside a floured napkin.
One quarter went into the 2.5 qt. (20 cm) Doufeu. The other quarter went into 3.5 quart round (22 cm). The "full" half piece went into the 5 quart (32 cm) braiser/buffet casserole.
The piece usually used for this recipe is something in the 5.5 quart round (26 cm) neighborhood. I have done the bread with great success in that sized oven and am just toying around with others.
For those unfamiliar with the Lahey "no-knead" method, the bread was baked, per the recipe, at 475 degrees for 30 minutes with the lids on the various Creuset pieces. Afterwards, to achieve a personally-desired level of browning, the lid is removed and the bread continues to bake.
I removed the lids at 30 minutes and only let them go, for control purposes, for two minutes longer.
The bread baked in the Doufeu is notably darker than the loaf made inside the 3.5 quart oven. It remained rather compact, but was not constricted by the 8" diameter of the Doufeu.
The bread in the 3.5 quart is lighter and slightly larger. I'm not sure if the higher lid allowed for more circulation and, therefore, more oven spring. I guess I need a scientist here.
The final loaf made in the 5 quart braiser... well, no one's going to call it a beauty queen.
The oven's 32 cm wide, a full 6 centimeters wider than the usual 5.5 quart round. And the bread did not benefit at all from the lower lid. No, the bread looks more like an oddly lopsy Pogach loaf. Part of it, I know, was that it more or less slopped into the braiser as it fell free of the napkin I'd been rising it in.
I cannot speak yet about the crumb of the individual loaves as they're still cooling.
Conclusions? Oh god, I wish I knew. I think any further experiments will leave out the braiser since it failed so miserably this time. We'll see. Also, I want to use Peter Reinhart's pain de campagne found in his Bread Baker's Apprentice to see if similar conditions exist in the ovens. I've never made his recipe in cast iron before, so it'll be an interesting approach.
I hope this helped at least a couple people who purchased the 2.5 qt. Doufeu without knowing what on earth they'd do with it. If nothing else, it makes smallish, but lovely loaves of bread!
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