I received an email recently from Loretta, a Breadtopia customer, who was understandably upset because her Le Creuset dutch oven lid cracked in two places while she was baking bread using the no-knead method. A half inch piece of the lid knob also broke off.
I’ve read numerous internet bread forum posts relating to no-knead baking at high temperatures and this is the first instance of this I’ve heard. Nonetheless, it’s good to be aware of the possibility. Le Creuset is a top name and quite pricey. Hers was only two years old and in perfect condition at the time.
I have read that some Le Creuset knobs cannot withstand temperatures above 400 F degrees. Perhaps the knob expanding in the heat caused the lid to crack. If you’re going to use a dutch oven, check the manufacturers specifications. Some knobs can be removed if necessary.
While I’m on the subject of product warnings, if you are using a clay baker like La Cloche to bake your bread, do not spritz it with water when it’s very hot or it may crack. At least that’s what mine did when I spritzed it. It was quite the idiotic move on my part. And just for the record, spritzing the bread in a La Cloche didn’t make the crust any better. One of the main reasons for using one is so you don’t have to mess with trying to create steam in order to create a desirable crust.
Also, do not place a clay baker in a hot oven. Place in a cold oven and preheat it along with the oven. The general rule is do not expose a ceramic or clay baker to thermal shock.
The semi happy ending to this story is that both Loretta and I continue to use our respective bakers. That is, our respective cracked bakers.