The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

dutch oven

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Franko's picture
Franko

 



 


Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread book has been getting a lot of attention on this forum of late so I decided to order a copy and see what it was all about. Mr Robertson's description of his journey to create the bread he had in his mind is a fascinating read and speaks to the dedication he has for his craft. While the book doesn't get into the same level of technical detail as Hamelman's 'Bread', it doesn't suffer for lack of clear and precise instruction, making it accessible to anyone interested in producing fine hand crafted breads, croissants, and brioche. Included is a chapter on various ways to use day old bread, which in itself is worth buying the book for, and one of the best collection of recipes I've seen for quite some time. Eric Wolfinger's excellent photography is found throughout the pages and adds significantly to the overall high quality of this book.


 


Chapter 1-Basic Country Bread describes in detail Mr Robertson's foundation formula and procedure for making the bread upon which all his other breads are based. Out of respect for copyright I wont share the formula here , but as Mr Robertson says, it is a simple process , and the formula is that of a basic levain style dough. It seems that this past weekend a few other TFL'rs decided to make this bread as well, notably David Snyder, who had wonderful results using Chad Robertson's technique of baking the bread in a dutch oven. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20473/basic-country-bread-quottartine-breadquot-baked-dutch-ovens


Never having used a pot for baking a loaf, I was intrigued by the photos in the book of the dark bold bake that this method can achieve, but as the recipe makes two loaves I decided to bake one in the pot and the other on the stone using Sylvia's method of steaming that's been so successful for her and other TFL members. I made the dough up by hand giving it a 45 minute autolyse and then a 3hr bulk ferment following the guidelines in the book for folding in the bowl, a technique I appreciate because of it's easy cleanup. The dough was divided into 955 gram portions, lightly rounded and rested for 20 minutes before final molding, then placed in floured bannetons for an overnight rise in the refrigerator. I would have liked to have done it all in one day but it was a 'work night' so my time was limited. After 19hrs of final cold rise the first loaf was slashed and placed in the lid of the dutch oven with a round of parchment beneath it, and the pot was placed on top of that. I thought this way would be easier than lowering the loaf into the pot with a lot of extra and unnecessary parchment paper. The oven and pot had been preheated to 500F for a good 40 minutes before the bake began, then turned down to 450F for the remainder of the 45 minute bake.


After 20 minutes the pot was lifted very carefully off the loaf and the loaf continued it's bake, finishing the crust and taking on a rich brown colour.




When the first loaf began it's bake I took the second one out of the fridge and let it warm up on top of the oven, so that by the time the first was out and my stone had heated for the second bake it was ready to go. Into the oven it went with Sylvia's towel steaming method in place and the vent blocked. I gave it as much steam as I possibly could during the first 10 minutes, spritzing regularly in 3-4 minute intervals. It didn't result in quite the jump that #1 had but it did bloom nicely along the slashes creating the type of pattern I've been trying to get on some previous bakes of other levain style breads.



Even with an 8 minute longer bake than #1 it just didn't take on the same kind of caramelization as the pot baked loaf. Still, I was happy with both results and I think both methods have their place depending on what your preferences are for a particular type of loaf. I'm not sure I'd use the pot with anything other than a very lean formula, as I think you might just get a little more colour than you were bargaining for, but for the Tartine basic Country Bread, and similar lean levain style breads it's a method I'll continue using.


Recently my wife Marie hinted that I might be getting a new mixer under the tree this year for Christmas since my KA is getting pretty long in the tooth, so to speak. Now I love new toys as much or even more than next person, so she was a little shocked when I told her that I've decided to start mixing bread by hand as often as possible from now on. It just makes sense to me that the breads that many of us are trying to emulate, are breads that have been around since long before the electric mixer appeared on the scene. I realize it's possible to mix these 'craft/artisan' breads with a mixer by controlling speed and mixing time, but for home baking it's become apparent to me that it's much more practical, and in most ways more satisfying to use the two best mixers I came equipped with. If I had any doubts about making this change they were put to rest when I cut into loaf #1.




 


This is the type of crumb that I want for my wheat based levain breads.... not exactly, but closer than I've come previously, which I think is due largely to the fact that this dough was worked even less intensively than I would normally do by hand. Why it took me so long to connect the dots that have been staring me in the face all this time, I believe is due to having been trained on mixers, and having used them throughout my professional career for bread mixing. Just goes to show that in baking, the learning never stops if you keep an open mind to the new ideas.. as well as the ancient tried and true methods of bread production.


 


Best Wishes,


Franko


 


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


 


I have made the Basic Country Bread from Chad Robertson's “Tartine Bread” twice before. (See: Tartine Basic Country Bread as Bâtards and Oven steaming using the SFBI method) However, I did not bake the loaves in the cast iron “cloche” that Robertson prescribes. I baked them on a pre-heated baking stone and used the SFBI oven steaming method or the "magic bowl" technique.


Caroline (“trailrunner” on TFL) recently blogged on Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain from Hamelman's “Bread” which she baked in Dutch Ovens – one cast iron and the other enameled cast iron. Her beautiful loaves finally pushed me to try this method with the Basic Country Bread. (See: David's Vermont SD w/ increased rye ---response to cast iron bake)


Caroline used an heirloom cast iron Dutch oven and a Le Creuset Dutch oven. There was no difference in her results. I decided to try a similar experiment with two other cloches: A 5 qt Copco enameled cast iron pot that was a wedding present (which means we've had it for going on 44 years) and a 4 qt Calphalon anodized aluminum all purpose pan.



Copco enameled cast iron on the left and Calphalon Anodized Aluminum Dutch Ovens


I made the dough according to Robertson's instructions. I followed Carolyn's well-described method for baking, except that I placed my cloches right on the oven rack, rather than on a baking stone.



Loaves uncovered after baking 20 minutes covered at 460ºF.


I baked the loaves for an additional 25 minutes after uncovering them to achieve the crust coloration seen below. I think I could have baked a bit longer to get as dark a crust as those in pictured in "Tartine Bread."



Loaf baked in Copco, on the left, and loaf baked in Calphalon, on the right


Both loaves had great oven spring and bloom. The one baked in the Copco oven had significantly great height, but I don't know whether this had anything to do with differences in thermal properties between the two "cloches" or simply reflects differences in their shape and/or volume. Certainly, there was no significant difference in the crust appearance.


The prolonged high heat did discolor the handles of the Calphalon pan. The Copco interior discolored quite a lot. I don't know if this was from the heat or, possibly, from the parchment paper. Anyone who can share experience with this would be appreciated.



The crust is staying crisp as the bread cools. The crumb is well aerated but less open than that of the bâtards I made. It is tender and has a lovely wheaty-sweet flavor with a mild but definite sourdough tang.


I must say I am very favorably impressed with the results of baking this bread in the Dutch ovens. I think the oven spring and bloom are remarkable and much more dramatic than what I have seen with baking on an oven stone covered with a stainless steel bowl. I'll have to try this technique with other breads, but trailrunner's results with the lower hydration Vermont Sourdough certainly suggest my experience will be repeated.


Thanks for the prompt, trailrunner!


David


Submitted to YeastSpotting


 


 

RichmondJim's picture

Inexpensive alternative for a Le Creuset dutch oven / $45 today only!

September 6, 2010 - 8:59am -- RichmondJim

For those of us looking for a less expensive alternative to the Le Creuset cast iron dutch oven, the folks at sellout.woot.com are offering the Cuisinart CI670-30PC 7 Qt. Enameled Cast Iron Casserole with Lid for $39.99 plus $5.00 shipping & handling. This offer is good TODAY ONLY (Sept. 6, 2010) and the dutch oven is only available in blue at the time of this post (the red sold out).

Peggy Bjarno's picture

Bread Flour vs All-Purpose Flour

April 4, 2010 - 10:08pm -- Peggy Bjarno

I’ve been working since September to produce my own “perfect” sourdough bread. Three weeks ago I was pretty much there, but you know, I keep tweaking, trying to make it more sour, and the recipe more reliable. Well, my tweak this time was changing flour. I’d been using KA Bread flour, but kept reading about people using KA All-Purpose flour and it was “just the same,” “worked just as well,” etc., etc. They never said it was just as good but different. . .

wetodit's picture
wetodit

After reading this site (and many others) for some time, I have read and learned many tricks and tips from fantastic bakers on how to make a better loaf.  My goal is to just keep improving and making my loaves a little better each time.  I don't really make them for anyone in particular.  My wife will have a piece once in a while but I usually make bread for myself.  I think I've achieved a pretty consistent recipe that yields a fairly consistent loaf, and I would like to use this blog spot to discuss the different cooking vessels for baking the bread.  Although the cooking vessel won't necessarily improve the flavor of the loaf, it's interesting to see what kind of difference these things make while baking. 


In the next few post, I plan share with you all the results of my baking so that we can all see what an average (or sub-average) baker with readily available (and relatively inexpensive) tools and equipment can make in his home kitchen.  In particular, I will use my standard recipe as a control and will bake the loaves in: a sheet pan, on a pizza stone, in a dutch oven, on some newly-acquired fire brick, and maybe even on my grill with some of the aforementioned vessels so that we can all actually see what we get when we cook bread using these different techniques.


I hope to start in the next few days and will use the following "Plain as Jane" white bread recipe for all future loaves in this series:


4 cups AP flour (unbleached, of course)
1 1/4 cups water
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs salt
1 packet of yeast


This has produced a somewhat bland but soft and tasty loaf for m and I will use it as a control in my upcoming "experiments".


After this series is over, I will explore different recipes in order to expand the flavor of the loaves but, as Alton Brown says, that's another show.

SulaBlue's picture

One-Day Bread/Cast Iron suggestions?

March 23, 2009 - 6:12pm -- SulaBlue
Forums: 

I remember some time ago seeing a picture of bread that had been baked inside a round dutch oven. I'm a bit short on baking supplies (One loaf pan, one pizza stone) and, quite frankly, very new to baking bread. I have two seed cultures going - one rye, one spelt, but how healthy they will be remains to be seen. In the meantime, I am itching to make some bread!

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