The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking Bread in Cast Iron - No Preheat Method - Photos!

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Baking Bread in Cast Iron - No Preheat Method - Photos!

There has been a flurry of discussion in the past weeks on baking bread in a cast iron dutch oven. Many TFL members use this method. It produces great breads but many find it problematic to lower the risen dough into a preheated pot.

On November 9, 2010, TFL member dmsynder asked whether it was necessary to preheat a cast iron dutch oven prior to baking in order to get a good rise and crust. (His post can be found here).

Here's the collective answer ...

> preheat the oven

> do NOT preheat the cast iron dutch oven and lid

> grease the dutch oven and let your dough rise directly in it

Here's my detailed illustration of this method with photos (with thanks to everyone who went before me)

 

=== EQUIPMENT ===

I used a two-quart capacity non enameled cast iron dutch oven. For the lid, I used a non enameled cast iron skillet, placed upside-down on the dutch oven. The diameter of my dutch oven and skillet are identical, so I get a good seal during the initial baking. The dutch oven is 3 inches high and the skillet is 1 & 1/2 inches high, so I have 4 & 1/2 inches interior height in total. Here's a photo of the assembly...

CAST IRON DUTCH OVEN AND CAST IRON SKILLET ASSEMBLY

 

=== INGREDIENTS ===

The bread recipe I use is a fairly standard sourdough. Ingredients are refreshed sourdough starter (at 100% hydration), commercial unbleached white bread flour, organic whole wheat flour, water and salt. Whole wheat flour is 20% of total flour. Dough hydration is 72% (this includes the water in the levain).

I baked two loaves. For each two-quart capacity dutch oven, I had 18 ounces (prebaking weight) of dough.

 

=== FINAL PROOF ===

The dutch oven was lightly greased. After shaping, the dough proofed directly in the dutch oven. During proofing, each dutch oven was slipped into a food grade plastic bag. (I help myself to these bags from the produce section of my favorite supermarket  - they're just the right size).

When ready to bake, the dough had risen close to the top of the dutch oven.

RISEN DOUGH IN CAST IRON DUTCH OVEN READY TO BAKE

 

=== INITIAL BAKING ===

The oven had been thoroughly preheated to 500F so it was ready when the dough was ready.

The dough was slashed, lightly misted, covered and loaded into the oven. The oven temperature was lowered to 475F, so it baked at somewhere between 500F to 475F for twenty minutes. At the end of this time, the dough had risen about 1 & 1/2 inches, slashes had opened and the dough was just beginning to color.

BREAD 20 MINUTES INTO BAKING CYCLE

 

=== FINAL BAKING ===

The lid was removed, temperature was lowered to 450F and the bread baked in the (uncovered) dutch oven for 20 minutes more. At the end of the bake, when removed to the cooling rack, I was delighted to hear the (greatly desired) crackling as the crust cooled. After cooling, the post-baking weight of each loaf was slightly over 16 ounces.

FINAL LOAVES

 

Leolady's picture
Leolady

I can't wait til I learn to make bread like that!

madruby's picture
madruby

subfuscpersona


Your breads just look beautiful...if only mine can rise so high.  When baking in my pre-heated dutch oven (I have a 4.5 quart Emile Henri), I help move the shaped dough into the dutch oven by letting the dough proof directly on parchment paper.  No mess, easy sling, no big clean up of my dutch oven after the baking.  I can also re-use that same parchment for a few more bakings before discarding it.


Although I researched a good deal and called the manufacturer directly to ensure that my empty Emile Henri can sustain the pre heat stage without fear of cracking, I do admit to feeling a bit nervous about pre heating it.  KAF has also advocated the non necessity of pre-heating the d.oven.  Your posting and conclusion have now convinced me that it is not required to preheat it, therefore I will start baking in it and with it "cold".  Thanks for your posting.

RIMADDOG's picture
RIMADDOG

I very much enjoy this site, and being a new member i look forward to trying many of the recipes i see here to use in my 5 qt cast iron dutch oven.

Here's what i would love to do, but have no idea how to do it.

I would love to bake a Rye Bread in my cast iron 5 qt dutch oven, and have the bread have seeds in it., but i don't know how to do it.

Would also like to do it without using sourdough.

I look forward to any and all replies that will help me.

Thank You

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Use the archives (site search, upper left corner of the page) and type in   100% Rye without sourdough.   I think there is a link to one recipe...

you can also search but this entire discussion is about how to bake inside a dutch oven with just about any recipe. 

I don't recommend a high % of rye flour without a sourdough or adding an ingredient that will lower the pH in the dough; pickle juice, vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt etc.

carefreebaker's picture
carefreebaker

Mini Oven why do you not recommend a high % of rye w/o a sourdough starter w/o adding vinegar, buttermilk, etc?

 

thank you

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I do not recommend a high % of rye without some way of souring it.  You left out an "or"  before the second w/o that you added.  Or is your the question: why sour the rye?  that can be found on a rye thread like:  Why use sourdough for rye?   As you can see from the dates, these two (now 4 posts) were out of context.  :)

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Thanks for the demonstration!


Is the bottom crust colored to the same degree as the top when you don't pre-heat the DO?


David

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

..about my bottom, do you? Naughty man!

Kidding aside, the brief answer is YES...

BOTTOM OF BOULE BAKED IN NON-PREHEATED DUTCH OVEN



...BUT the bottom of the dutch oven is buffered with a thin layer of coarse corn grits and a round of parchment paper is placed on top of the corn grits (since I don't want corn grits baked into the bottom of my bread).

When I bake in a preheated dutch oven, the bread's bottom usually gets scorched, so the corn grits layer is my solution. I don't know if it's really necessary when the dutch oven isn't preheated, but I wasn't willing to risk it.

BTW, this post details using corn grits to buffer the bottom and has photos of the bottoms of bread baked in a dutch oven, both with and without the buffer layer.

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

A very thin layer of Crisco in the Dutch oven is all I have used, and there was no sticking and medium browning. Laziness is the reason for not using anything else. Used 450 degrees F. throughout.


If cornmeal were involved, I would reconsider using buffers. The first time I made cornbread in a cast iron skillet, I only used a light coating of Crisco. Big mistake. Lots of sticking. Maybe the skillet was not seasoned enough, but since then I always grease the skillet well for cornbread and tilt the skillet with the hot grease to recoat before adding the batter. I don't know why the difference between the two breads with sticking, maybe the difference between a batter and a dough, but I do know what works when.


Pass the butter, please.


See my previous post below about not preheating the Dutch oven.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

My cast iron Dutch ovens haven't arrived yet, but I'm going to try this with an enameled cast iron one. I don't have grits, but I imagine polenta will work the same.


David

jowilchek's picture
jowilchek

I just got my 4 qt. Lodge Dutch oven last week and had thought about baking bread in it, but now I am excited, and can't wait till bread making day!! Thanks for the information and the pictures are beautiful, just hope I have the same success! Thanks
A question: is a 4 qt. DO too large to do a regular size loaf...meaning the raw dough for a one loaf formula?

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

Mine is 4 quarts. I seasoned it a few times before using it for bread, then added a very thin layer of Crisco before adding the dough. No sticking. I used the Jim Lahey NYT recipe that calls for 3 cups of flour, but letting the dough rise in the cold DO.


In the NYT video, Lahey is using 5- to 6-quart Dutch ovens, and the dough is supposed to spread some once it is plopped in with his method.


Can't remember exactly, but my loaves were about 3 inches high. I'm not good with bread dough, especially when handling wet doughs, so don't expect expert advice from me. I actually gave up both times after I "poured" the dough onto the counter. Icky! Neither time was the dough handled well for the stretch-and-fold part, but it was awfully good bread. Good texture, holes, color, taste, etc. A better job with stretching and folding should make a difference.


Have fun with your new Dutch oven!

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I'm working on the theory that you'll get maximum oven spring and a nice round shape to the loaf if you match the amount of dough to the pot size. You need to measure the inside height of your pot and your lid so you know how much you have to work with. During the final proof in the cast iron DO, the amount of dough you use should be enough so that, when ready to bake, the top of the dough is just below the top of the uncovered DO.

Since you're (hopefully) using a recipe you're familiar with, you should already have some idea of how much oven spring you typically get (if you bake it as a boule). Allow for at least 1 & 1/2 to (max) 3 inches room at the top for oven spring after the dough is proofed and ready to bake.

I would guess that the 4 qt Lodge DO would be a good size for at least 1 & 1/2 lb of raw dough (maybe a bit more), though I don't own a 4-quart DO, so can't test it for you.

Sorry for the tardy reply - I hope you try it and that it works for you. When you do try it, post back and tell us how much dough you used for a 4-quart DO and how it went. Thanks - SF

drmike's picture
drmike

I've baked bread in a pre-heated Dutch oven and a cold Dutch oven and the results have been the same.  The bottom crust is as brown as the top.  I don't think it makes any difference what kind of pot you use as long as it can withstand the oven heat.  I've tried cast iron and cast aluminum and they both work great.  All in all, no knead baking is a lot of fun.

Mike

breadsong's picture
breadsong

They are approaching sphere-like proportions. Really lovely! Good job, great technique!
From breadsong

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

I've tried the no-knead method twice with letting the dough rise in a cast iron Dutch oven before placing it in the hot oven. Beautiful bread resulted. The bottom crust had good color both times.


Crisco was applied as thinly as possible with a paper towel to the interior of the Dutch oven. Warming the Crisco or the Dutch oven slightly before adding would help keep the layer thin, but cool before adding dough.


My problem is handling the wet dough itself. Ewww-icky. Need more practice with wet doughs. *lol*


 

MadAboutB8's picture
MadAboutB8

You did great with this experiment. I'm sure it'll help a lot of people dealing with baking in DO, me included.


I've been wanting to try baking in DO but was very reluctant with the dough handling in super-hot cast iron pan. Now, you have cleared this up, there'll be no more excuses for me to try this method.


Thanks for sharing.


Sue


http://youcandoitathome.blogspot.com/

Jaydot's picture
Jaydot

I was also worried about the prospect of handling a superhot DO.


Once my starter is back in the game (I'm finding I need to adjust my schedule because of much cooler weather), this will be the first thing I try!

ww's picture
ww

one other advantage is that your Dutch oven and your dough is a snug fit, so it provides structure for a high hydration loaf, no risk of excessive flouring, and one less thing to wash!!!


great oven spring - how nice that it doesn't spread on the stone

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Good catch WW. You zeroed in on what I think is a real advantage of this approach. Thanks for pointing it out. - SF

caraway's picture
caraway

Thanks a million for your informative post.  Your boules are lovely - I can't wait to try this method myself.


Sue


 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

The next time you use this method, put an oven thermometer in the oven to monitor your temperature after loading the oven to monitor temperature drop.


I suspect that what you describe as "The oven temperature was lowered to 475F, so it baked at somewhere between 500F to 475F ..." is inaccurate.  Simply opening the oven and closing it again will usually drop the temperature by 25 or more degrees and the amount of initial heat absorbed by the DO and the 75+/- degree dough probably dropped your initial temperature more than you realize.


Neverthelsss, the results of your effort are remarkable and if the crumb compliments the crust you certainly have a winner.  Interesting idea to use the cast iron skillet as a lid and thus providing more room in the DO for oven spring.

ddarathorn's picture
ddarathorn

Last week I roast a chicken on parchment paper in my gorgeous beloved Emile Henri casserole. It was not covered and there was no liquid added. The chicken and pot went cold into the pre-heated oven. I was heart-broken to find my casserole cracked through at the end of the roasting. It was an outcome I could never have anticipated, having used it many time under many conditions, although probably I never used it at such a high heat to start (450F.).


In a word.... don't risk it.  To replace it would cost well over $200. Sigh...


Diane 


 


 

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Check your pots warranty.


Hope people understand that this method is for cast iron only, where temperature extremes are rather irrelevant as concerns to the structural integrity of the pot. Extreme temperatures and changes should always be considered when using ceramics(pottery) and glass, etc.


 


Again, not a concern for cast iron.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

thx for pointing it out - SF

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

There could have been a flaw in the casserole. Also, ceramics can have tiny internal cracks from being knocked around, then suddenly the whole piece goes. If a dinner plate breaks when being placed on the counter or table, it's the tiny cracks over time that finally do the damage. Every time I knock a ceramic or procelain piece and nothing happens, usually in the sink, I know I may pay for it later.


450 degrees seems high for chicken. 325-350 is what I use. Perhaps the lack of liquid caused stress between the area covered by the chicken and that with nothing. If the chicken was cold and the oven hot, that difference may have caused stress before the pot and chicken were completely heated.


Even with cast iron I am careful never to place a hot pot or skillet where there might be liquid. Always on a trivet or stovetop after making sure there is not a drop of liquid. When adding items to a heated pot or skillet, I make sure the first item is not cold, and using a thin layer of Crisco or butter helps as a buffer. Cast iron cookware can break if cold water is added to a hot piece. Cast iron can break if dropped. Cast iron can develop tiny stress fractures over time. Cast iron is likely to last for generations with minimal care, but ...


Diane, so sorry you lost your casserole.


mrfrost, I shy away from going over 450 degrees in the oven with cast iron. I have only gone that high with bread in the Dutch oven and with my cast iron pizza pan. I know some have gone higher, but the 450 works fine for me, and basic fear keeps me from going higher.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I agree, in general, with mrfrost's comment that "for cast iron ...temperature extremes are rather irrelevant as concerns...the structural integrity of the pot".


However, readers should note that, in my trial bake, the size of the pot and the amount of dough were rather evenly matched. I had 18 ounces of dough in a 2-quart capacity cast iron dutch oven. The risen dough filled the dutch oven to about one inch below the top when it was placed in the oven.


The dough pretty much filled the dutch oven and therefore absorbed heat from the *sides* as well as the bottom. In addition, dough hydration was 72% so steam escaping from the dough would heat the inside of the cast iron lid. Basically, while the outside of the cast iron dutch oven was immediately subject to high heat, on the inside the dough was absorbing that same heat.


I suspect that the dough inside buffers the heat outside, especially at the beginning of the bake. The trick is learning how to match the (raw, risen) dough volume with the volume capacity of your pot.


Hope this elucidates rather than confuses the issue. - SF

rayel's picture
rayel

I really liked the result of your use of a non preheated cast iron dutch oven. The breads looked amazing.


One question I have is regarding guaging the proof. Is it a stretch to say that you are not fully proofing? My reasoning is because the internal temp. of the cast iron pot will rise more slowly because of its thickness, wouldn't there exist a chance that it would flop if the dough was allowed to go to its fullest proof pre bake?  The heat transfer would be slower than a thinner material. Thanks,  Ray

rayel's picture
rayel

I just realized that my comment might be misunderstood. I meant to ask, if you  compensated by intentionally under proofing, although your pictures look quite fully proofed, to allow for the slow increase in internal heat, both in the dutch oven and the dough itself? Thanks again, just trying to see if my idea of what takes place in a thick pot slowly coming to bake temp. is accurate.  Ray

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

A recent post by dmsnyder answers your question, since he did two loaves, one under-proofed and one slightly over-proofed. See Hot vs Cold Dutch Oven Baking: an experiment


In my bake with the photos, my dough was fully proofed before being slashed and put into the preheated oven to bake.


A couple of days later I made the same dough again and baked it in the same DO under the same conditions. This time the risen dough was somewhat under-proofed (the only obvious difference) and I got slightly more oven spring (so much so that the top of the dough just barely hit the lid top).


You can tell I'm still experimenting (and still learning) as I explore this method of baking. I wouldn't call it intentional, but I did observe a difference between under-proofing and fully proofing, with the slightly under-proofed dough getting a little better oven spring.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I baked two boules today from the same batch of dough. One baked in a DO without pre-heating. The other baked in the same DO pre-heated.


I didn't do the grits/polenta sprinkle business. The bottom crusts of both loaves were dark, but not unpleasantly so.


My results are here: Hot versus Cold Dutch Oven Baking: an experiment


David

fminparis's picture
fminparis

To avoid burned bottoms, I always use an insulated baking sheet underneath the pot.

rayel's picture
rayel

Thanks Subfuscpersona and David for the responses, This all helps. Apparently your doughs are tolerant to a wide range of proof times. I find that some days when all goes well, this happens for me too. Sometimes when I have the most  doubts that this or that was handled properly, I have astonishingly good results.


Thanks again, and Happy Thanksgiving.  Ray

Jaydot's picture
Jaydot

Stuck!


My first attempt at baking in a cold DO...


I did the final rise in the DO and I was absolutely delighted with the way things were going: cloud of steam when I removed the lid, good oven spring, lovely colour...
I sprinkled semolina in the DO before putting the dough in.
However: this bread is now welded to the bottom of my DO.


Apart from attacking it with hammer and chisel, any suggestions?


Update: this is what the bottom looked like after I wrestled it out of the pan (perhaps I should put that in the Ugly Loaf thread :)). But I'm happy to report that it wasn't scorched (well, hardly), the taste is excellent, and the DO wiped clean quite easily after soaking in water. I'm going to do this again tomorrow - and I'll grease the DO first!
(By the way: it's a sourdough with spelt and oats, formula/method here).


greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

Tear off the top to enjoy and soak what is left. If that is cast iron, some suggest boiling the water in the pot to dislodge stuck/burned-on food.


I have tried the rising-in-the-pot method twice in a cast-iron DO, and both times I greased the interior with shortening. No problems.


If you don't grease the interior of a regular bread loaf pan, the bread will stick. I have always read that shortening is better than oil for bread loaf pans and for cast iron.


Enjoy your croutons.


Edit: Just saw your update. You found the solution yourself. Congrats.


Beautiful bread.


 

Jaydot's picture
Jaydot

It's so great to be on a forum where people actually understand what you're going through :). Now I'm off to google "shortening" - I know the word, and I know it's greasy, but I've never been sure what it actually is.

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

I use Crisco, a brand in the U.S. for solid vegetable shortening. White in color.


Lard is similar in color and use, but it is an animal fat and many in the U.S. shy away from it for health reasons. Compared to shortening, lard supposedly makes better pastries and quick breads. Also, some prefer lard for seasoning their cast iron cookware.


I use so little shortening in a year that I personally would have no problem with using lard instead.


Now about those sticks of butter that disappear so quickly for other cooking and on breads ...

Jaydot's picture
Jaydot

Thank you again. To be honest, I shy away from solid vegetable fats, because they tend to contain transfats (I'd rather have good old animal fats, as long as the animal was raised organically).


I've googled a bit, and several dutch (cake/pastry) baking forums mention Crisco, and the fact that there are a few supermarkets here that have it (though not in my vicinity). Apparently the easiest way to get hold of it here is to order it online. From sexshops! 


Anyway, I want to bake this bread again tomorrow, so for now I'll just grease the DO with olive oil (which I buy in 5-litre cans, so there's always enough of it around).
I wish I could buy butter in 5-litre cans :).


 

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

As I said in my original post, I grease the sides and the bottom of the pot before the dough is put in to rise. I use a solid fat (usually lard or Crisco). Oil does not always work as well. I don't use butter either, because it has a lower burn point than lard (or Crisco). I understand your health concerns, but you're not eating it, you're just using it to grease the pot.


Some people find that the bottom of the bread can get scorched when baking in cast iron at a high initial heat. I think this depends mostly on the quality of your oven and secondarily on how close the pot is to the heating element (my old, cranky gas oven routinely scorches the bread). However, dmsnyder, who used the same method, did not experience this and you also may not find it to be an issue. For those who do, here's my solution to the burnt bottom -


I scatter a thin layer of coarse corn grits on the bottom of the pot. On top of that, I put a circle of parchment paper cut to the size of the pot's bottom (because I don't want corn grits baked into the bottom of my bread). The shaped dough is then placed in the pot to rise. This provides a buffer for the bottom heat and prevents scorching the bottom of the loaf. Wheat bran - or anything coarse - should work.


== LOAF BOTTOM WITHOUT BUFFER ==



.
== CORN GRITS LAYER AFTER THE BAKE ==


Corn grits are charred...



.
== LOAF BAKED IN CAST IRON DUTCH OVEN WITH BUFFER ==



.
== NO SCORCHING OF BOTTOM FOR THIS LOAF ==



===========


Your bread does look lovely. I'm glad you're trying the method again and trust that the baking will go better the second time. If you chose to use olive oil (rather than a solid fat), do post back and tell us if it worked for you.


best of luck - SF

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

Solid vegetable fat or lard would be preferable to oil for a DO or bread loaf pans, and they both can handle higher temperatures than olive oil. If the olive oil works, that will be good news for those who don't like to use solid fats. I also look forward to jaydot's results.


My loaves were both in a 450-degree electric oven on the second rack from the bottom. No bottom burning. The rack held the DO more in the center of the oven. I considered starting at a higher temperature, but I knew the chances were great that I would forget to lower the temperature.


One thing nice about these experiments is that the cash investment is minimal. As long as the oven is hot, something else can be placed in the oven when the bread is finished. Just lower the temperature a little for a batch of cookies. :)


subfuscpersona, I really appreciate all of the work you have done for this thread.

naschol's picture
naschol

I always use light olive oil mixed with liquid lecithin to grease almost anything and it works wonderfully.  I wouldn't use Crisco, but would not be averse to using lard.  However, I have never had the need, since the olive oil/lecithin works so well.

Jaydot's picture
Jaydot

I expect you are right about solid fats being better, but I'm not giving up on my olive oil until I'm absolutely sure :). For starters, I oiled the pan again after I washed it, and I'll do it again before the next bake.


My DO is enamelled cast iron, and according to the manufacturer's website, it should develop a non-stick surface with regular use. I haven't had it for that long.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Quote:
My DO is enamelled cast iron, and according to the manufacturer's website, it should develop a non-stick surface with regular use.

This makes no sense. If you are using non-enamelled cast iron, the use of fat in cooking (or just for seasoning) contributes to a non-stick surface.

This is irrelevant for enamelled cast iron.

Jaydot's picture
Jaydot


Thanks, SF.


Here's today's bread. I olive-oiled the (slightly pre-warmed) DO, put the dough in it for final rise, and baked it. I'm very happy with this bread. It did stick to the DO again, but not half as badly as yesterday. After the DO cooled down, I could pry it out with my fingers without damaging the bottom.


I wish I could try again tomorrow, but I'll have to eat some of this bread first :). I think that before giving in and using parchment paper (which would probably be the sensible thing to do), I'm going to see what happens if I don't do the final rise in the DO. I have a (completely unscientific) feeling that allowing the dough to interact with the oiled bottom of the pan for a couple of hours before starting to bake exacerbates the sticking...


Thanks from me too for starting this thread - I do love this way of baking. The oven spring is truly amazing!


(Edit to add: the hole in the bottom is due to bad shaping, not damage).


Jaydot's picture
Jaydot

I have just baked another bread in a cold DO.


This time I did not do the final rise in the DO. The DO was well oiled with olive oil (and nothing else, no grits, no parchment).


The boule slid out of the pan with no trouble at all! (And I'm thoroughly delighted with the way it looks, it's probably my best looking bread to date!).


Now my next challenge is to get a loaf to sing :).

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

Glad to hear the oil is working for you. Nice bread from the one before. You must be happy with this method.

jimbodeuxe's picture
jimbodeuxe

Good post/topic. I got some great tips on how to handle sticking... my last loaf was excellent but I had a heck of a time getting it out having oiled it with olive oil alone.


subfuscpersona, I notice you said you used an *enameled* cast iron DO pot but a *non*-enameled pan for the top. Is that because you do not have a matching top or is there some other reason? Also, many responders say they use a simple cast iron pot, un-enameled. Does anyone feel that one is better than the other?

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I used  non-enameled cast iron for the pot and the lid - here's what I wrote

Quote:
I used a two-quart capacity non enameled cast iron dutch oven. For the lid, I used a non enameled cast iron skillet, placed upside-down on the dutch oven.

I used a cast iron skillet (upside down) for the lid because



  1. I only have a pyrex lid for the 2-quart DO & I feel that it is unsafe to use pyrex at high temperatures

  2. I get a little extra interior height since the inside height of the cast iron skillet is about 1 & 1/2 inches.


Other bakers have used enameled cast iron dutch ovens with great success. (Some preheat their pots and some do not preheat). I no longer own any enameled cast iron cookware, so I can't personally test if there's any significant difference but I suspect there isn't.

madruby's picture
madruby

I have been using parchment paper and it has always worked out great for me.  I let my dough proof directly on the parchment which has been lowered in the DO (I no longer pre-heat the DO as suggested by this thread and I have not seen much difference between pre-heating my DO or not pre-heating it).  I also recycle that same paper and I usually get at least 3-4 bakes from one single paper before discarding it.

Jaydot's picture
Jaydot


Good suggestion, I'm going to try that. Thanks!

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I see no reason to use parchment paper if you're letting the dough have it's final proof in a greased cast iron DO. If you're *not* preheating the DO, why do you find it necessary to use parchment paper?


Looking forward to your response.


Thx - SF


 

madruby's picture
madruby

Using the parchment paper has nothing to do with the DO being hot or not (at least, in my case).  I find it is easier to move the shaped dough from point A to point B (I do not own a peel), regardless of whether I am using a DO or not.  Also, I personally try to avoid greasing my cookware if at all possible when a better alternative is offered.  I would think that to avoid having one's bread stick to the DO, it will require a good amount of "oiling" which I prefer not to have to do.  Finally, it is probably my most important reason....NO MESS. 


If I don't have to grease my DO, I don't have to clean it!  I may have a few sprinkles of flour after the bread is baked but it's a matter of a few  seconds to wipe it off.  When I bake a baguette (let's call it a baguette for now....reality may want to call it something else), I also proof my dough directly on the paper and when the time comes to bake it, I just throw everything into the oven, on the baking stone.  Once it is done, I remove the bread and paper and my stone stays clean as well.  That works  very well for me; I love baking with my parchment paper and as I said, I get to use it quite a bit before I have to throw it away.

Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote

Whenever the term dutch oven is used, it almost always refers to cast iron.. or at least that's how most of the discussions here go.  There are DOs made of aluminum.. and where I live, there are plenty of them in the public (wet) markets, for as low as 1/10th the price of an equivalent size Lodge DO.  Around these parts, such are used to only to cook rice or as stock pots.   One of these days, I'm going to try bake bread in the one we have at home.. and hope my mom doesn't bonk me in the head with it.  :)

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

IMHO, any covered vessel will work.  I don't think you have to go out and spend a fortune on a heavy cast iron or enamel DO.  If those pots are inexpensive, why not give it a try.  If it doesn't work, you still have a good stock pot. 


My reasoning:  You can simply cover your loaf on a baking stone with a cheap, Dollar store aluminum roasting pan and get equally good results.  I think it's the cover trapping the moisture in the bread to provide "steam" (and perhaps some radiant heat) that gives the results. 

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

I tried that just today. As it happens, it was also my first use of a linen bed for proofing. Both were surprisingly successful.


Here is the roasting pan setup:Modified aluminum roaster


Note the domed 'top'. I laid the roaster on a pad of towels, and used the back of  a spoon to press out the moldings. This effectively domed the bottom, allowing more headroom for the bread; about 4.5 in.


My loaf is a simple lean sourdough with about 12% whole wheat. The sourdough was 100% hydration, and fermented grain was 50% of the total flour. Overall hydration was 66.7%. Once the elaborated sourdough was active, about 4 hours, the dough was mixed, autolysed, and PR's stretch and fold was done 4 times at 10 minute intervals. The dough was then refrigerated overnight. 12 hours later, the dough was shaped and allowed to rise for 2 hours. The oven was pre-heated to 500°F. The dough was slashed and moved to the stone, and the roaster was set down over the loaf. Temp was adjusted down to 450°F. I  did spritz the interior of the pan before covering.


I meant to remove the pan at 10 minutes, but got distracted and allowed it to  go 15 minutes.


Below are pics of crust and crumb. I did not hear the loaf sing, but it definitely snapped, crackled, and popped as it cooled. Final loaf was 680g, 10in long, 6in wide, and 3.5in high. This steaming method is very much easier and safer than messing with containers of hot water. The large grins and prominent ears testify to the method's efficacy.


The crust is thin and crackles when you bite into it. The crumb is moist, soft, and chewy; just the way I like it.


cheers,


gary

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

a very nice loaf of bread Gary!

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Some aluminum pots are fairly thick walled and I imagine will perform very similarly to the cast iron. Not necessarily concerning the exact method discussed here, but there are several reports of very successful bakes using thinner walled stockpots, graniteware, and such. The theory is you can use just about any vessel that will contain the steam around the loaf as it bakes and expands.


The only caveat is that a pot that is shiny, like stainless steel, may not brown the loaf as nicely as duller, flatter, darker materials. Also, unless you are setting the thinner walled pot on a baking stone, you may need to add a little insulation(like on another baking sheet) to help prevent bottom scorching.


As in this thread:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15292/stock-pot-loaves


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15478/stock-pot-loaves-ii

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

Some Dutch ovens are only meant for use on rangetop of the stove; not for use in the oven. Their handles and/or lid knob will not withstand the heat of the oven or their oven use is limited in temperature.


Your mom will bonk you in the head if you are able to melt the handles and lid knob of her Dutch oven.

madruby's picture
madruby

My DO is an Emile Henri Flametop (ie can withstand very high heat and goes everywhere, on most heat/cold surfaces) and I usually use it to bake the boule shaped breads.  The Emile Henri is made of ceramic, and not cast iron.  I love it and so far, the DO has given me the best o.spring.  When I bake other types of breads ie baguettes, batards, I use other steaming techniques which  include  a big aluminium roasting pan covering over the dough (I must have paid $4.00 for it at Walmart).  I had so-so results with that method alone.  However, as of late, when I make a baguette using the aluminium roaster as a cover, I also applied SteveB of Breadcetera technique by pumping steam into the inversed aluminium pan (not just mists, actual steam).  Wowwwww....that baguette got one nice o.spring (the first real risen baguette I successfully baked).  SteveB uses a metal buffet tray in which he poked a hole for the steam.  I decided to go along with the aluminium tray rather than spend more money on a metal or stainless steel pan.  I also purchased a handheld steamer (for bathroom or kicthen cleaning) and I must say, I have been very pleased with the experience.  A suivre....

Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote

kaldero - the Filipino dutch oven


..is typically cast aluminum, up to around 1/4-inch thick (it rings like a bell when struck), with well fitting lid of same material.  This has long been the traditional choice (next to, or over, clay pots) for cooking rice, particularly over open fire, because it conducts the heat all around and has less tendency to burn or scorch what is at the bottom (unlike thin-walled vessels). I imagine the matching lid will sufficiently trap steam/moisture as that's it is known to do when cooking rice. 


The small sized pots ranging from a couple of quarts to a couple of gallons usually come with bail wire handles, the bigger pots have cast aluminum loop handles at the sides.  These pots come in bare aluminum finish but many, particularly those used in open fire cooking, turn black when a hard layer of soot bonds to the outside.  Unlike most American or European DOs, our local versions tend to be deeper than wide.


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

In the archives we have...  


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6740/stove-top-sourdough-bread#comment-59163


And don't forget to search under campfire baking too!

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

If I recall correctly, the thicker the aluminum cookware, the better the quality. 1/4 inch would be considered thick. Aluminum does evenly heat all around. Sounds like you have a winner.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Given your description of the cast *aluminum* pot...


Quote:
..cast aluminum, up to around 1/4-inch thick (it rings like a bell when struck), with well fitting lid of same material.

...I would think this would work well for artisan bread. As I suggested...



  • preheat the oven

  • do *NOT* preheat the dutch oven

  • let your dough have the final rise in the dutch oven prior to baking


I've only tested this method with cast iron. However, I live in a working class, largely Latino neighborhood in the USA where the "dutch ovens" used are typically made from cast *aluminum* (rather than cast iron). These kinds of pots (with their cast aluminum, tight-fitting  lids) are commonly used *on the stove top* (not the oven) to cook rice and are also used for slow-cooked one-pot dishes.


Since you say that...

Quote:
(cast aluminum)...has long been the traditional choice...for cooking rice... because it conducts the heat all around and has less tendency to burn or scorch what is at the bottom - unlike thin-walled vessels
...I do think that a good cast aluminum "dutch oven" with a tight fitting lid of the same material would be well suited for baking artisan bread.

If you try baking bread *without preheating the pot* using a cast aluminum dutch oven, please post back to this thread and tell us your experience.

drmike's picture
drmike

I recently purchased a beautiful cast aluminum Dutch oven for $10 at a flea market and used it today instead of my cast iron Dutch oven.  The lid was Pyrex.  I pre-heated it to 500º and lifted the raised dough into the hot pot using parchment paper.     The result was a perfect loaf of bread, and the Pyrex lid emerged unscathed.  A heavy aluminum DO (at least 1/4" thick)  should work just as well as cast iron and is much easier to handle.  Next time I'll try baking without pre-heating the DO. 

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

1/4-inch thick aluminum is a great quality for a Dutch oven, and it is so much lighter than cast iron. Have fun experimenting.

KMIAA's picture
KMIAA

I haven't used my 5 quart dutch oven for bread.  What size loaf would a 5 quart take.  I usually bake my loaves about 1/2 to 2 lbs of dough at a time.

KMIAA's picture
KMIAA

I should have said I bake my loaves using 1 1/2 lbs to 2 lbs of dough.  Sorry!

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

In the NYT Jim Lahey video, a 5- or 6-quart Dutch oven is suggested. Just be sure the handles and lid knob are oven-proof. I use my 4-quart, cast-iron Dutch oven. Give yours a try.


Only 3 cups of flour are used in the Lahey recipe, so it is not a large loaf. Anyone know the pound size?


NYT Lahey Video

Hock's picture
Hock

The last time I baked, I didn't, trying to do four loaves instead of two -- and got a stuck bottom on one of the lower-shelf loaves.  The two flat cast-iron items I usually put on the bottom shelf help hold the heat and keep the bottoms on the upper shelf from getting burnt on.

Thanks for all the useful information.

 

Mira's picture
Mira

Hello,

I have always been intrigued about baking sourdough in my Staub, but I am confused about the instruction to NOT preheat the cast iron dutch oven.  

The instructions that came with my Staub cautioned  to NEVER place cold in a heated oven. 

I love my Staub and use it weekly; I cook on the stovetop and then put the whole pot in my pre-heated oven...so it's always heated before placing in a hot stove.

If somebody can please explain or reassure I'd appreciate it!

Thanks!

Mira

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I suspect that, with enameled cast iron, one can - over time - stress the enamel coating by putting a room temperature pot in a very hot oven. The enamel coating may develop fine cracks or be more prone to chipping.

It's your pot (and Staub is an excellent brand) so it should be less subject to this than a cheaper brand of enameled cast iron. However, given it's price, if you value the appearance, you might want to use a non-enamled cast iron dutch oven for this method of bread baking. Cast aluminum pots also work well.

The other point in the original post is to use a smaller capacity dutch oven and have the dough rise directly in the pot prior to baking. The Lodge 3-quart combo cooker seems a flexible size for a number of bakers who have used this method.

TFL member MiniOven uses cast aluminum pots or woks (handles removed) - she posted this photo of her dutch oven (using a pot as a cover). See her original post at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/26049/cold-dutch-oven-proof-bread-then-bake#comment-193886 for the woks she uses for a larger bread.(thanks MiniO).

Mira's picture
Mira

Thank you so much for your response!

Your loaves look beautiful and that's what triggered me to think about this method again!

Mira

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

hi mira,

Have you tried this method? If yes, please do post back to this thread to share your experience.

I did want to follow up on one comment you had made -

Quote:
The instructions that came with my Staub cautioned  to NEVER place cold in a heated oven.

There is a difference between a cold dutch oven and a room temperature dutch oven.

I'm guessing, but possibly Staub is talking about refrigerating a pre-cooked dish in the DO for a time and then placing it directly in a hot oven. (This scenario isn't uncommon. For example, maybe the cook has made a boeuf bourguigon. The dish is made ahead in the dutch oven, refrigerated, and, later, put directly into a preheated 350 -375F oven to reheat for the dinner.)

Frankly, whether I am using non-enamled OR enameled cast iron, I would *never* put a cold / refrigerated cast iron dutch oven directly into a hot oven. The virtue (and limitation) of cast iron cookware (enameled OR non-enameled) is that it is slow to heat but retains heat well. Subjecting cold cast iron directly to even moderate (350F) heat, is, IMHO, a recipe for disaster.

I still think that placing an enameled room temperature cast iron dutch oven in a very hot oven (450F or higher) can stress the enamel coating if this is done repeatedly. On the other hand, non-enameled cast iron cookware will not be damaged as long as the temperature changes are not too extreme and/or sudden.

imaloafer's picture
imaloafer

I use the method from Tartine. The "Double Dutch Oven" available, seasoned from Lodge, has a shallow skillet for the lid, a rim that holds the seal of the two in place and has a handle on the front of the pans for ease in lifting. I have two, so do multiple loaves at a time and never have to oil or grease the bottom. Because the shallow skillet is used to turn the loaves onto from my bannetons, there is little chance nor difficulty in turning the dough out onto the hot skillet. It gets covered then with the deep dutch oven side, and into the 500 degree oven. Then it is turned down to 450 for the bake, 20 minutes covered, then remove the dutch oven which has become the top and finish the bake for another 20-25 minutes. We bake dozens of loaves a week without any problems. If you follow the guidance of Chad Robertson, you will make beautiful bread. The final makeup is key to the nice round loaves, but once you have this technique down, you will utilize it for many variations.

Mira's picture
Mira

Hi, thanks for your message,

I've decided not to try this method for the very reason you've mentioned.  My staub is at room temperature (good distinction that you make btw room and cold temp) and it sits very red and pretty on my stovetop when not in use, so I don't want to take the risk of damaging it:)

I have, however, switched to baking bread directly on my pizza stone. The crust turns is fabulously crispy compared to using a regular pan.

Happy New Year:)

M

Darxus's picture
Darxus

I hoped this would be the answer to how to do no-knead rectangular convenient toast / sandwich shaped loaves.  It didn't work.

Used a recipe that previously yielded a wonderful loaf, but instead of pre-heating a heavy pot, I put my dough in a cold (thin, light colored) loaf pan covered tightly in aluminum foil, then put that in an oven preheated to 500°F, reduced to 425°F, cooked 30 minutes, removed aluminum foil, cooked 15 more minutes, then another 5 minutes because the crust wasn't looking very good, but it didn't help.  Top crust ended up soft.  Got decent oven spring.  Top didn't tear open nearly as much as with the pre-heated pot.  Maybe I need higher heat for longer, at the beginning?  The pan might be a little large for the amount of dough I cooked, so more heat wasted heating air?

The dough was ~134g whole wheat starter (about 142% hydration), 79g whole wheat flour, 55g water.  First rise about 24 hours (~60°F), stretched and folded, transferred to pan, 1 hour rise, then into the oven.  (Starter ratio is higher than usual for the fermentation time because of some combination of weak (over-fed) starter and cold ambient temperature, I'm still figuring this thing out.  Wow, that really is a high ratio of starter.  Tasty results though.)

Wish somebody made cast iron loaf pans with lids.  I've been thinking about emailing Lodge to ask them about it.  But it would be better to work this out without buying new equipment.

Has anybody gotten this to work with a rectangular loaf pan? 

Bread winer's picture
Bread winer

I'm new to the site, but have read many, many posts in my quest for the perfect loaves.  This is a great resource.  After a long wait, our cast iron (Lodge) bread loaf pans arrived.  I've been wet loaf no-knead in Pyrex with a downright giddy degree of success.  My Pyrex experiences are all "cold" pan method, e.g. no preheat, were challenged by bread sticking in the pan, until I switched to butter - good old butter.  In Pyrex 3 qt casserole, I use 1/4 teaspoon and nothing has stuck - ever.  Butter is wildly efficient.  So, my cast iron pans arrived and I, as instructed here and elsewhere, used oil.  

What a mess.  I got the loaf out, but it's severely damaged.  

The Lodge loaf pans look very, very nice.  Excellent QC in manufacture.  I'll post again on the results.  I've been anxious to try my spelt loaf in cast iron - just to see if I can tell the difference.  

Many thanks to all for insights.  

wirebender's picture
wirebender

I have been baking my Tartine loaves in regular rectangular loaf pans while waiting for my Christmas gift Lodge combi cooker to arrive. I let the dough rise in the loaf pan, slash and put in 500* oven with another loaf pan inverted over it for the first 25 minutes. Just need to buy extra pans, or find regular loaf pans that fit over your CI pans. Also leaves a lot of room for oven spring!

Bob

rolls's picture
rolls

that is such a great idea with the loaf pans! thanks for sharing. its good too, as it doesn't take up extra space in the oven, so you're able to bake more than one or two loaves at a time.

so does anyone bake from cool oven and get good results? i will try the butter, thanks. as i've had problems with loaves sticking too.

i wonder, does anyone ever bake from a cool oven, with a large oven and still get good results? the reason i ask, is i used to always get great oven spring if i underproofed and baked from cool oven, with my old smaller oven. now, even wen i preheat, i still have the problem of loaves sticking to the bottom of the pot, may have to start using baking paper.

Bread winer's picture
Bread winer

As I am a newbie, I can ony speak from limited experience.  I have had issues with spring due to low gluten in spelt flour - I tend to use 50/50 white bread flour and spelt.  Rather than jack up the yeast, I provide a warmer environment for final rise prior to baking.  I'll bring the oven to about 100F and put the loaf in for a final rise, take it out after 1.5 hour, and start the oven.  During the oven warm up, I'll set the loaf over the oven vent using the cooling rack as a riser so I don't block the vent.  I get a great rise.  

My spring project - an outdoor wood fired oven.  I've been very comfortable with mechanical, electrical and woodworkingtype projects - I've never done an masonry.  But, I'm pretty psyched about this project.  I have ash, cherry wood, oaks and birch in my woods.  I don't intend to smoke, but as I have read, the character of woods will leech into the foods baked in a brick oven.  

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I was taken back to my mother in laws old Shabot aluminum chicken roaster my wife inherited.  It is a Wagner Ware Magnatite 13"x 10" x7" covered roaster .  I was going to make my next baking project a cold oven cast iron enamel challah experiment but heard a hot oven start could damage it.  I cold start my challah in a Pyrex loaf pan all the time .  This roaster comes with a raised plate on the bottom to get air circulating under the loaf as well.  It was made in the 30's since it was my wife's grandmother's originally.

Now I can hot start in this pan and if it blows up,or breaks, my wife will kill me :-)

They still sell these things new for $110  and they have smaller round ones that may be better for bread. I have also seen both at Goodwill for a buck each on Thursdays. 

rolls's picture
rolls

that looks cool for baking bread! and don't have to worry bout a burnt bottom.

inspired by this thread i jus mixed up two batches of jim lahey no knead, one original and one an experiment:

i had some left over diced boiled potato, added rosemary, salt and pepper, and olive oil, and parmesan, and folded through one batvh of original jim lahey bread.

made one original recipe also. my oven can fit two pots at the same time. its jus a matter of finding the right pot and approach. i am determined to make successful bread in a pot like i used to in my old oven!

i've picked up heaps of hints and tricks from this thread, and hopefully i'll be able to report back with success :)

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Quote:
does anyone bake from cool oven and get good results?

hi rolls

I'm the OP. This thread focused on baking artisan bread in cast iron without having to preheat the cast iron pot or lid (although the oven is preheated).

I've found I must preheat the oven to produce good artisan bread. However, I do have good success baking regular sandwich loaves by placing the risen dough in a cold oven.  

Cold Oven Baking: Fifty Percent Whole Wheat Loaves at Beginning of Baking

Cold Oven Baking: Fifty Percent Whole Wheat Loaves 20 Minutes Into Baking Cycle

(You can find the complete post at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/4697/should-i-steam-cold-start-sandwich-loaf )

You need your oven preheated to a high temperature in order to get the good crust typical of artisan loaves. In contrast, sandwich loaves are typically baked at a lower heat so, for them, I find a cold oven works well.

As for oven size, I don't know why your new (larger) electric oven is giving you problems. You should check your oven for temperature accuracy and experiment with oven rack placement. FYI, my oven is an old, inexpensive gas oven with heat source on the bottom. The oven rack measures 25x17".

rolls's picture
rolls

thank you so much SF for getting back to me :) you have answered my Q. for todays no knead pot breads, i shall pre heat the oven.

i'll have a look at your link, those loaves of yours rose lovely!

i remember baking baguettes with great oven spring in my old oven from a cool oven:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/23393/dan-lepard-baguettes

will also have to buy a thermometer for temp, any advice there? i have no idea, and don't want to get anything too expensive.

thanks again i'll post back with result. i also mentioned this topic in a thread here where miniO, was kind enough to answer my questions:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/27099/baking-cool-oven-only-small-ovens

 

thanks again :)

 

rolls's picture
rolls

okay, well, i preheated the oven, greased with butter two pots, one oval pyrex dish, and one cooking pot, wanted to take pics, but today was a bit hectic.  i'll upload pics later. orginal lahey bread did not stick to the pyrex greased with butter.

the potato bread smelled fantastic but stuck. i managed to pull it out without leaving too much stuck behind. tastes really good, but didn't get much rise with both.

still not satisfied with results. will keep trying.

Bread winer's picture
Bread winer

Well, I've had a couple trials with my new Lodge bread pans - rectangular.  I switched to using butter instead of oil.  The release from the pan was perfect - popped right out.  We've finally experienced the buzz of cast iron - the crust is so much more delicate.   The last batch of dough went 72 hours in the fridge - just plain awesome.  I've always been fond of the spelt flavor, but the longer term proof actually lightened (not lessened) the spelt nuttiness.   A couple more "baseline" loaves and I'll start messing around with temperatures and start steaming again.  

Oh - the quality of the Lodge rectangular loaf pans is excellent.  Great value.

Best

theluckyfox's picture
theluckyfox

I have been visiting this site for a while, and just recently started my own artisanal bread trials.  After about 3 batches of dough, and several 'close but not quite' results, I finally hit the grand slam I was hoping for.

I started with Jeff Hertzberg's no-knead recipe.  After mixing and the initial rise, I transferred the dough to a large container, and left it in the fridge for about 4-5 days.  It seems to perform a bit better after a few days.  I used a pre-heated, inverted dutch oven base, and griddle as a 'combo cooker'.

I shaped my loaf, set it on parchment paper to rest for about an hour, floured the surface, slashed it with my lame, and slid it onto the griddle (parchment paper, and all...no messy cornmeal that way).  I placed the inverted dutch oven base over the griddle, and baked it at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes.  The oven had initially been heated to 500 degrees, but about 20 minutes prior to baking, I reduced the heat to 450 degrees.

After those first 15 minutes of baking, I removed the 'lid' to find the most impressive oven spring.  I then let the bread finish, uncovered, until it was deep golden brown.

It was, without question, the best bread I have ever made, and rivals some of the best I have ever tasted.  It could not have been easier.

For photos of the bread, my make-shift 'cooker', and the sponge I achieved on the inside, take a look at my blog post.  I would post photos here, directly, but I don't know how.  Sorry for the extra step.

http://theluckyfox.blogspot.com/2012/12/and-more-bread.html

RIMADDOG's picture
RIMADDOG

Hello Folks;

I am a new member, and i enjoy looking at what can be cooked / baked using cast iron cookware.

My question is, Is there any recipes out there that will help me to bake fresh, homemade rye bread with seeds in my cast iron pan ???  I look forward to any and all replies.

Thanks so much.