The Fresh Loaf

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Exploding Dutch Ovens?

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Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Exploding Dutch Ovens?

Ken Forkish's Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast unambiguously recommends preheating a Dutch Oven empty.

I'm about to use Lodge's EC4D43.

But a post on Amazon suggests that 'empty = explosion'.

Any advice, please?

TIA!

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

I  use the old style pot without the enamel coating.  So use at your own risk of destroying  a high dollar pot.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, Faith!

So it's the enamel that can cause the 'explosion'?

And I really can damage it by preheating?

gmagmabaking2's picture
gmagmabaking2

I preheat my enameled cast iron dutch oven regularly... hasn't exploded yet at 475-500 degrees.... hmmm.

Diane

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Diane,

Thanks; that's encouraging. Maybe the poster here was referring only to the L Series - and E4D40 in particular?

Mine is certainly enameled.

Would the lower temperatures (475º) which Ken calls for be any safer?

It's my first time!

Gingi's picture
Gingi

unless it has in it any nasty thing, I don't see why it will explode. Simply iron heated by convection heat.... I've pre-heated mine on 500 for more than an hour. Just be careful when placing the bread. That's all.

 

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, Gingi.

Could I quarter fill with water to dissipate heat?

As i say, it's my first time this way so I'm not sure how easy it'll be to set dough in a red-hot D/Oven anyway! ?

MostlySD's picture
MostlySD

This is Le Creuset, but I presume it applies to Lodge as well:

"Don't heat an empty pan or allow a pan to boil dry."

http://www.lecreuset.ie/Help--Advice/Care--Use/Care--Use-Cast-Iron/

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, MostlySD - maybe I need one without enamel in future?

dsadowsk's picture
dsadowsk

and quite another to replace a pricey Le Creuset. I also have had no explosions with Lodge or even cheaper brands after many empty pre-heatings. I'll take my chances, and if an M80 explodes in my oven, I'll replace my dutch oven with something equally inexpensive.

kensbread01's picture
kensbread01

While heating it up on the cabin stove top in Eagle Lake, Canada.  It was late May, but it was snowing outside and the inside of the cabin was freezing when we thought to heat up the skillet and have some fresh caught walleye.  After about 5-10 minutes we heard a loud cracking sound and sure enough, the skillet had cracked right down middle.  We might have poured cold canola oil on the pan  when it was hot and that's when it cracked... don't exactly recall.  Apparently a huge temperature difference, say it could have been 45 degrees all day in the cabin or maybe we pulled the skillet out of the car before heating.. don't remember exactly but our fine cast iron skillet was toast.  When we got back, we ordered another one on Amazon.  Had to pan bake the walleye which was still quite tasty.

Antilope's picture
Antilope

with temperature shocks. Like getting a skillet really hot and adding something cold. Or putting a hot skillet in the sink and running water in it. I have a 70 year old Griswold skillet set that I cook in all the time, but I don't subject them to temperature shocks. 

dsadowsk's picture
dsadowsk

who throw ice into a  pre-heated cast iron skillet to generate steam? I use boiling water, so I've never risked a crack.

Antilope's picture
Antilope

but don't use a skillet you care about. This would be a job for a cheap, imported cast iron skillet.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, dsadowsk, kensbread01 and Antilope!

Yes, I can see how it can happen.

Although in the case I'm asking about there are no temperature shocks/changes.

It's simply the act of pre-heating empty…

My Lodge did indeed cost me well <$100. But I don't fancy explosions and potential damage to the oven etc even if i thought I could experiment with (= replace) the Lodge. And since that Creuset page specifically says not to heat empty (thanks again, MostlySD), I'm really reluctant to try.

But since Ken Forkish specifically advises it as the way to do it, I'm left wondering what's best.

There seems to be no way to contact KF. So I'm at a loss. 500º is hot!

Antilope's picture
Antilope

would work? I don't believe it would shatter like cast iron. It has the thick walls, maybe 1/4 inch thick solid aluminum. You could get one cheap on Ebay, you just have to change out the plastic knob on the lid.

http://www.ebay.com/bhp/club-aluminum-dutch-oven

Or a cast aluminum Dutch oven

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_nkw=cast+aluminum+dutch+oven&_frs=1

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

… 'club'?

Aluminium seems a good path to investigate; thanks, Antilope!

Aluminium vs 'club' aluminium?

Antilope's picture
Antilope

for heavy or cast aluminum pans. Kind of like Lodge for cast iron, etc. Any heavy cast aluminum Dutch oven should do. 

Another Ebay search, "Cast Aluminum Cookware":

http://www.ebay.com/sch/Kitchen-Home-/13905/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=cast+aluminum+cookware

 

I found this interesting comparison of camping Dutch Ovens: 

"Cast Iron or Aluminum?"

http://www.dutchovendude.com/dutch-oven-iron-aluminum.shtml

kensbread01's picture
kensbread01

Not sure if this matters to most, but it does to me.  I prefer cast iron because it can double as a camp fire cooker and is the best for frying fish, which I do on occasion.  I also am aware of possible leakage of chemicals (iron or aluminum) into the foods so I would rather minimize my use of the cast iron cooker.  I use parchment paper underneath my breads when using to bake breads.  No sure, but I feel it might stop iron particles from absorbing into the dough. 

In the summer time, we've sat out on my deck while cooking chicken, potatoes, and veggies in the cast iron cooker on the grill.  Once it all gets good and hot, I just turn it down to 300F, grab a beer and sit out while I wait for dinner. The smell of food cooking outside is just fantastic.  And there's something about bringing out the cast iron to cook on that reminds me of camping and the outdoors, like a little slice of heaven in one's backyard.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks again, Antilope and kensbread01!

What a friendly community - just as i expected :)

I tried a loaf yesterday with my Lodge 4½ quart from cold. Apart from a slight overdoing (= mildly burnt! But not badly) on the bottom, it worked well.

This makes me wonder, Why the apparent need to preheat?

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

@Mark - you don't need to preheat your cast iron dutch oven. I don't, and here's the bread I produce...

See this TFL thread for a full discussion of this approach with photos -

Baking Bread in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven Without Preheating

Antilope's picture
Antilope

I received a Sassafras Superstone 14.5" Covered Baker for Christmas. So far, I made two loaves of French bread using the covered ceramic baker. I started each in a cold oven also. They turned out crusty and great.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Antilope,

Thanks. That's going to be my way from now on too, then :-)

Mine did yesterday - part from the fact that I left the loaf in for 3 - 5 mins too long.

Just curious as to why Ken Forkish advocates preheating. But I'm going to start from cold :-)

Your help appreciated!

kensbread01's picture
kensbread01

Why?  I saw Chad Robertson doing a workshop via a Youtube video where he puts the cast iron oven into a hot oven with his bare hands. Obviously, this pan was not preheated.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

kensbread01,

Thanks. That must be OK! Appreciated :-)

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

subfuscpers,

Thanks. As far as I'm concerned this is the answer! Have bookmarked :-)

Although Ken Forkish says throughout FWSY, such things as 'At least 45 minutes prior to baking, put a rack in the middle of the oven and put 2 Dutch ovens on the rack with their lids on. Preheat the oven to 475ºF (245ºC) ' [p83], I'm just going to ignore that and do as all of you here suggest.

Thanks again so much for your kind encouragement and information.

I hope soon to be able to contribute in my turn to help others. Much appreciated!

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Ken Forkish contacted me back and explained that the ideal baking vessel is a cast iron one. If there is any risk associated with pre-heating, it's because of the enamel.

BetsyMePoocho's picture
BetsyMePoocho

Gotta toss in my two-cents worth.....

As the name applies, "Cast" iron, "cast" is the operable word.  

This cast process is not to be confused with "Forged", "Cold-rolled", type Steel or other Alloy which is then machined, pressed, stamped, or die cast into a shape.  (There is much more to it than my lame explanation, but that's the idea.)


It is a mixture of molten ore which becomes a form of "pig-iron" and when melted it is to poured into a mold of some type forming a shape.  Easiest molds are made of sand, i.e. "sand cast".

Trouble with casting molten pig-iron is contaminates in the base ore used and/or poor quality control.  Good quality cast iron has very little contaminates and strict temperatures are maintained during smelting.  If not it will cause 'voids' or air pockets in the product when cooled.  (A very general broad-brush attempt explaining.)

These voids can lead to failures under certain conditions such as "shock heating or cooling".  Also some outside coatings may lead to failures due to a differential in expansion/contraction rates or not being properly bonded to the cast iron.

I use several cast iron vessels and have for a long time.  Some were my Mom's from her Mom.

My suggestions are:

Only purchase from an established manufacture that has a good reputation.  (You get what you pay for.)

Never heat or cold shock the item.

Always place it in a "Cold" oven and let it slowly come up to temp along with your oven.  Never would I suggest tossing it into a 400 to 500 degree oven.

Allow to completely cool before cleaning.  (My cornbread skillet never gets washed..... just pre-heated with some oil in it.)

Try not to drop it.... you might hurt a toe, but it is handy to have in your hand when having a "heated" discussion with someone you love.

Have fun and keep on baking.......!

 

 

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

…Ookadama

That's really helpful.

(At KF's suggestions I'm using only Lodge.)

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

(As is obvious… still new to this: a refugee from bread machines; but impressed by everyone's helpfulness here. Thanks!)

Made my second loaf in Lodge enameled Dutch Oven tonight. Again, the bottom was burnt. Not badly. But blackened a bit.

Am I right that the only reason is leaving in oven too long?

FWSY says 30 mins with lid on; 20 mins with lid off at 475.

I have an oven thermometer which is reading spot on 475 (it's a slow electric set to 525) and I actually brought loaf out after 15 mins!

What else could I be doing wrong, please?

Thanks!

Antilope's picture
Antilope

For No-Knead Bread, I believe baking at 475-F or 500-F is responsible for a thick, dark or burned bottom crust. 450-F works fine. Use a parchment paper sling to prevent sticking and to easily add risen dough to dutch oven.
.
I made a loaf of Bittman's No-Knead bread  yesterday that turned out perfectly. Here's how I did it.
.
I prepared the recipe by weights instead of volume. Those are listed below. I used half AP flour and half bread flour. I also added 1/2 teaspoon of diastatic malt powder.
After a 12 hour rise, I emptied the dough onto a 12 x 16 inch sheet of parchment paper, dusted with flour. An oiled plastic dough scraper helps with this.
Did 2 stretch and folds, formed the dough into a ball, placed it back on the parchment paper.
Placed the parchment and dough ball in a mixing bowl to rise and covered it for 2 hours.
Pre-heated the oven to 450-F with a 5-qt Lodge Black Cast Iron Dutch Oven (not enamaled)** on the shelf, with the lid off, beside it.
I pre-heated the dutch oven for 1/2 hour then added the parchment paper sling with the risen dough to the dutch oven and covered it.
Baked covered for 1/2 hour. Removed lid and baked 10 more minutes. Center of loaf reached 205-F. Removed from oven. Removed loaf from dutch oven immediately. The loaf was a perfect golden brown top and bottom.
.
.
No-Knead Bread (original recipe)
By MARK BITTMAN
Published: November 8, 2006
.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html?_r=0
.
.
No Kneading, but Some Fine-Tuning (updated info)
By MARK BITTMAN
Published: December 6, 2006
.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/06/dining/06mini.html
.
.
No Knead Bread Ingredient weights
.
3 cups (430g) all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1 1/2 cups (345g or 12oz) water
1/4 teaspoon (1g) yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons (8g) salt
.
.
Baker's Percentage (I calculated for above recipe)
100% all-purpose or bread flour
80% water
0.23% instant yeast
1.86% salt

** I used a Lodge L8DO3 5-qt black cast iron (non-enameled) Dutch Oven

http://www.lodgemfg.com/seasoned-cast-iron/dutch-oven-with-spiral-handle-bail-and-iron-cover-L8DO3

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, Antilope

The crucial aspects for your success, then, seem to be:

  • 450-F, not 475
  • parchment paper sling
  • bake covered for 1/2 hour - as per WFSY, actually
  • remove lid and baked 10 more minutes, 5 minutes less than I did

How exactly do you make the sling? Dos that mean the (bottom of the) dough doesn't touch the Lodge at all?

Your help appreciated!

 

Antilope's picture
Antilope

Here is a link to pictures showing the use of a parchment sling for final proof and moving the dough to the dutch oven. However, at 450-F the parchment doesn't scorch as much as in these photos (scroll down to the 3rd, 4th & 5th picture):

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25228/tartine-country-bread-dutch-oven-%E2%80%93-without-getting-burned

(scroll down to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th picture):

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21945/tartine-basic-country-bread

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks yet again, Antilope

Though I can't quite see whether the sling somehow suspends the bread - from the lips/rim of the Dutch oven, in photos 4 to 5.

Your help greatly appreciated:-)

Antilope's picture
Antilope

which rests on the bottom of the dutch oven. The dough is only suspended while you are lifting it.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, Antilope.

Does that layer of parchment paper act as sufficient insulation to precent scorching; or should I rely on the other changes you kindly suggest?

BetsyMePoocho's picture
BetsyMePoocho

Hey Mark,

Sometimes when I use a cast iron dutch oven with certain doughs I will place an insulated cookie sheet under the dutch oven.  I use the smallest sheet I could find at one of the cooking stores.  

Not meaning to insult your intelligence, the cookie sheet when baking cookies keep their bottoms from burning before the tops brown.....  i think that's the logic.

Anyway, it seems to help keep my bottoms from getting scorched....

Have fun,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Ookadama,

Of course it doesn't :=)

That's exactly the kind of help I need… new to this.

Parchment paper folded?

A sheet/sheets really insulate?

Thanks.

Antilope's picture
Antilope

It always brings to mind the scifi book and movie, "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury. 451-F, the temperature at which paper starts to burn. ;-). Or at least it starts to scorch.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

So I have 24º only to play with.

As long as it only scorches…

Four layers, is that enough?

Antilope's picture
Antilope

and used one layer of parchment paper for high hydration dough in a dutch oven. I've had no problem with the bottom of the loaf being too dark with 80% hydration dough at that temperature.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

I had less hydration.

Shall try it. Thanks!