One of the reasons my no-knead bread recipe is so successful is the pot it’s baked in. The heavy cast iron traps heat and moisture like an old-world brick oven, causing the bread to develop great texture and a hard crust. To create the perfect baking environment, the pot must be preheated in a 425-475° oven for about a half hour. For whatever reason (fashion, I presume), all the manufacturers of dutch ovens seem to be mimicking Le Ceuset. And since Le Creuset uses a plastic handle that’s only rated to around 375°, so does everyone else. I removed the cheap, plastic handle and replaced it with a solid bronze drawer knob I had laying around the workshop. You can see it in the background here.
If you’re one of those people who cares more about form than function, you can pony up an additional $14 to Le Creuset for a stainless steel replacement knob that “can withstand any oven temperature.”
About the pot
People have asked me which dutch oven I use. It’s a 4-quart enameled Chantal (a Les Creuset knock-off) pot that I received as a Christmas present one year. I can’t find this exact pot online, but this one from Lodge looks nearly identical. It’s from a trusted manufacturer and is much cheaper than most of the other brands. If you’re just getting into no-knead bread baking, I highly recommend it as a starting point in your culinary adventure.