My dough didn’t rise.
- No knead dough doesn’t rise like standard yeast breads, it only puffs up and gets bubbly. It will be a little bigger after the resting time but don’t look for a much larger volume.
- Your yeast may not be fresh and should not be used past the expiration date. Even with a good expiration date, yeast has a short shelf life once a package is opened. Even with the small packets, once it’s opened, yeast should be tightly sealed and kept in the freezer, not refrigerated.
- Your water may have been the wrong temperature. For the faster method, hot tap water is usually around 125 to 130°F. Anything hotter than that is too hot. And boiling water is definitely out. For the overnight method, cold to room temperature water works.
- You changed the recipe. It’s best to follow the recipe exactly for the first time. That way you know it works. Don’t change the recipe the first time, paying attention to every detail. You can get creative later on.
My dough was too dry.
- You did not aerate your flour before measuring. Flour always settles in the bag or container and must be aerated before measuring; otherwise, you will be using too much flour. To aerate flour, using a large spoon or spatula, stir the flour around to incorporate some air.
- You measured the flour incorrectly. To measure flour, use a flat-topped measuring cup, gently spoon the aerated flour into the cup until it’s mounded above the rim and level off the excess with the back of a knife. Do not tap the cup or the container of flour.
- You changed the recipe.
My dough was too runny.
- You used too much liquid or not enough flour. Use a cup specific for measuring liquids, have it on a flat surface and view it at eye level to make sure your liquid is at the correct line.
- You sifted the flour before measuring, which would cause you to use less flour than required.
- You changed the recipe.
My bread wasn’t cooked inside.
- Your oven (and pot) were not preheated long enough. Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven has reached 450°F. It can take over half an hour.
- You sliced it too soon. After bread is removed from the oven, it will continue to cook inside. It’s best to let it cool completely before slicing (I know it’s hard to wait!)
Can I make it with Gluten-Free flour?
- Well…. you can make it with gluten free flour but you may not like it. I tried it and the loaf was smaller and more dense and chewy, without the traditional big holes and it didn’t taste anything like the original recipe. I tried it once but nobody wanted to eat it.
I don’t have a Dutch oven.
I have only made this bread in an enameled cast iron Dutch oven (Le Creuset) so I can not recommend something I have not tried. By doing a little research and reading through the comments here, people say they have used:
- a glass pyrex dish with a lid
- a stainless steel pot with a lid
- a clay baker
- a springform pan with an aluminum foil top
- a pizza stone with a stainless steel bowl cover
- a black cast iron pot with a lid
Keep in mind that any lid must be tight fitting because you need to create steam inside the pot and the lid should have an oven-proof handle (not plastic). Your pot will need to hold at least 3 quarts but 5 to 6 quarts is most common.
Doesn’t hot water kill the yeast?
No. Hot water does not kill yeast. Today’s yeast is more sturdy and accommodating than years ago and can tolerate water or liquid up to 130°F. The killing point for yeast is 140°F. (average tap water comes out at about 120-125°F – my tap water is 127°F)
Parchment paper: Parchment stuck? Don't have parchment paper?
If your parchment paper stuck it’s from using an inferior brand. Reynolds brand will never stick. If you can not get Reynolds brand you need something to lift the dough and place it in the Dutch oven. You can try using a well floured kitchen towel to transfer the dough, letting the dough roll off the towel into the hot pot. Do not leave the towel in the pot, only use it as a means of lifting the dough. Do NOT use wax paper in a hot oven. It will melt onto the bread and it will be ruined. I don’t use a towel because my dough always sticks to the towel. Parchment paper makes the job super easy but inferior papers can stick. I always use Reynolds brand – it never sticks.
How Do You Aerate Flour?
Flour must be aerated before measuring because it often settles in the bag or container making it heavy and compact, resulting in too much flour being measured. Aerating basically means fluffing it up and is not the same as sifting. Flour should not be sifted before measuring unless the recipe states to do so. Otherwise sifting will result in too little flour being measured.
If you dip into flour without aerating, you will be getting too much flour and your dough will be too dry. To aerate flour you simply stir it around with a spoon before measuring. To measure, be sure to use a flat-topped dry measuring cup. You can see how I aerate flour in my Easy One Bowl Chocolate Cake video: http://www.jennycancook.com/recipes/easy-one-bowl-chocolate-cake/
After aerating, there are two ways to measure the flour: 1) Scoop & Level – Gently scoop the flour up with a spoon and sprinkle it into your measuring cup until it’s mounded above the rim. Do not tap the cup or the container of flour. Finally, level off the excess flour with the back of a knife. 2) Dip & Level – Gently dip your measuring cup into the flour until it’s mounded above the rim and level off the excess flour with the back of a knife. A properly measured cup of flour weighs 4 1/4 ounces.