The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking in Cast-Iron

kdwnnc's picture

Baking in Cast-Iron

I want to bake bread in a covered round cast-iron pot/dutch oven.  How would I do this?  Do I preheat it with the oven, turning the risen dough into it? Do I let the bread have its final rise in it, and then put it in the oven?  Thanks for any help, the sooner the better! 

mrfrost's picture

In the original recipe, the dutch oven is pre-heated to very hot. The completely proofed dough is then gently plopped into the hot pot(dutch oven).

LeadDog's picture

I have done breads both ways in my cast iron.  Most of the time I preheat the cast iron in the oven then turn the dough out into it.

Dragonbones's picture

I preheat my Lodge Double Dutch Oven to 250C for a full hour, while the loaf proofs in a round cane banneton (brotform) dusted in a 50/50 mix of regular and rice flour, covered. When the loaf has risen only 50-60% I place a 60-cm-long (2') piece of oven paper atop it, put my hand or a thin cutting board or cardboard circle atop that and gently invert it, slowly removing the brotform. I slash, then using heavy, double pot holders, remove the dutch oven from the oven and place it on a good hotpad, closing the oven. I open the lid and set that on another hot pad. Then I gently lower the slashed loaf into the dutch oven, quickly replace the lid, trim the excess oven paper away with shears, return the dutch oven to the oven, leave the oven on max for 5 minutes, then turn it down, if desired, to a slightly lower bake temperature.

The combination of NOT letting the loaf proof to doubled in size plus a very hot oven and cast iron container give me the best oven spring.

subfuscpersona's picture

*don't* preheat: 2

*do* preheat: 2

both ways: 1

? toss a coin ?

shuttervector's picture

Check the little knob that is on the lid. Manufacturer advise against using the lid in such a super hot oven. I unscrewed min and bought a little compatible steel hook at Home Depot so I could lift off the lid. I have found that the trickiest thing is to do the "plop" into the pot. Sometimes it just lands off center. Don't worry about it. The suggestion from a poster about cutting the excess parchment paper is very important if you use parchment paper. It will burn and sometimes catch on fire in the oven so you want it inside. You can also spray the pot and/or the parchment to reduce sticking. Protect your extremities. I have burned my arms twice in an instant.


kdwnnc's picture

The handle on the one I will use is also cast iron, so I won't have to worry about that!

bnom's picture

Last month I took advantage of my double oven to conduct comparison test of baking in hot/cold cast iron pot.  Here's the link:

Based on my results, I'd say preheat the cast iron pot..

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi There,

I thought Mr Frost had the best advice. That's what this site is all about, sharing ideas and methods.

BTW..............I don't have a dutch oven as such but use a covered caserole dish. I have never baked starting with a cold oven but I have used both a preheated hot caserole and a cold caserole dish using the New York times "no knead" bread dough.

To me there was not a lot of difference in flavour or appearance. Experiment and have fun finding out.


AW's picture

First one that way too, Pete. Good advice from you too! :)

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi Greg,

Could you have had your pot too hot or maybe try placing your pot on a shelf lower in the oven to stop the burning.....or maybe both..........just some ideas for futiure loaves.............Cheers...........Pete

Mebake's picture

Bottom Line:

- Use Pre-heating with slack / high hydration dough To prevent spreading of dough while oven heats up.

- Use Cold Oven with sturdy firmed up dough, or use preheating, don't have to worry about spreading here. You just have to bake the dough somewhat underproofed, as it will proof with the heat of the oven.


subfuscpersona's picture

Use Cold Oven with sturdy firmed up dough, or use preheating, don't have to worry about spreading here. You just have to bake the dough somewhat underproofed, as it will proof with the heat of the oven.

Even when working with a firmer dough (ranging from 67% to 72% hydration), I don't get good oven spring unless the cast iron pot is thoroughly preheated.

Perhaps there are additional considerations besides the dough hydration?


subfuscpersona's picture

I've been (re)exploring baking bread in cast iron cookware. I have a gas oven (heat source from the bottom) but the cast iron dutch oven needs to be on the 2nd-from-the-bottom rack in order to give me room to manuver the pot and lid. I preheat the dutch oven and lid and bake at 450 - 460 F. The high heat gives good oven spring but does burn the bottom of the loaf.

Here's my solution: I scatter a thin layer of coarse corn grits on the bottom of the pot right before I put in the dough to bake. This provides a buffer for the bottom heat and prevents scorching the bottom of the loaf.

Following a suggestion given on TFL, the dough has a final proof on parchment paper. This gives me a sling to lower the dough into the hot pot.




BadRabbit's picture

It's also important that if you use an enameled dutch oven (e.g. Le Creuset) that you get it extremely clean before putting it in the oven at high temps. If it has anything on the exterior, it will permanently stain.

I learned this the hard way. My Le Creuset stays on top of my stove at all times and so it occasionally may get hit with a stay splatter of oil or sauce. I wiped it off before using it for bread but apparently did not get it fully cleaned because now the outside is polka dotted with stains.

mikeinnyc's picture

Does anyone have a preference? is there a notable difference in the results from one to the other? I have a cast iron pot but am considering getting a clay baker as well. Thanks

Zenith's picture

I have used cast iron (not enameled but well seasoned), a Romertopf (unglazed clay) and a La Cloche (finer clay and maybe glazed, don't know).  Both the cast iron and La Cloche were preheated before baking, but the Romertopf instructions said to use it in a cold oven after soaking it in water.  Of all methods, the preheated La Cloche gave the best results when using the same recipe in each -- huge oven spring, lovely crisp crust and dependably cooked all the way to the bottom without any burning.  I recommend it highly.

Janknitz's picture

I use a clay baker similar to (but far less epensive than) a La Cloche.  I preheat the lid only, and do my final proofing in the base.  I was skeptical about not preheating the entire baker at first, but it works great.  This gives me consistent, excellent results with amazing oven spring.  And I do not have to try to place my fairly high hydration doughs into a very hot base.