I made my first two loaves of No Knead Bread in a Tramontina 3.5 qt DO ($40, online only, ships free to store; the KitchenAid 3.5 qt. is around $80) last night. The last time I baked bread was, oh, 30+ years ago. I used the recipe from Cook's Illustrated:
and the techniques from:
The loaves were fantastic; nice crisp crust and very chewy. I let the dough rise for about 12 hours, did a no-touch knead, let them rise for another four hours, did a final no-touch knead and let them rise for another two hours. (Supposedly, doing two quick no-touch kneads will result in smaller holes in the bread, rather than large holes, and I did not want huge holes.) The first loaf, I pre-heated the DO to 500 and then left the temp at 500 for 25 minutes before lowering the temp to 425. The internal temperature only hit 206, not the 208 or 210 that is recommended, but I took the loaf out as the crust was beginning to get a little too dark for my liking. The second loaf I pre-heated the DO to 500, then lowered the temperature to 425. I took the loaf out at 207 as once again the crust was getting a bit too dark for my liking, and the bottom was again a bit burnt. Fortunately, the bottom can be easily scraped.
If I place a piece of aluminum foil directly under the DO, will that reduce the direct heat to the bottom of the DO and thus prevent the bottom from browning too much? Would it be better to place the aluminum foil on a rack about 2" below the DO? I have the DO on the bottom rack of an electric oven.
In addition, both CI and the other site suggest that you use a parchment sling sprayed with non-stick spray for the final rise and inside the oven. I used parchment paper that is not supposed to need additional spray or grease, but sprayed it anyway as instructed in the recipes. Could the non-stick spray be causing the burning? I used Reynold's premium parchment, which is rated to 425. I have a re-useable parchment paper that is rated up to 500 degrees, but I'll need to cut it down a bit and wanted to wait until I had done a few loaves and new the proper dimensions.
TIA for your assistance!
PS... I mixed the ingredients for the first loaf in a 4 qt. round Camwear container, which has a top diameter of 8 3/16". I needed to add quite a bit of additional water in order to incorporate all the flour. For the second loaf, I mixed the ingredients in a much larger steel bowl in which I could spread out the dry ingredients before adding the liquid. Doing it this way, I only needed to add a little bit of extra water, and the mixing was much easier. The second loaf was about a 1/4" higher ( 4" high) than the first loaf and a little bit 'airier', less dense. The second loaf is on the right in the picture.