The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hot versus Cold Dutch Oven Baking: an experiment

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hot versus Cold Dutch Oven Baking: an experiment

The recent discussions regarding baking breads in hot versus cold Dutch ovens - those from "Tartine Bread" in particular - prompted today's experiment.


I made two boules of the Country Rye from "Tartine Bread." One I baked starting in a room temperature enameled cast iron Dutch oven. The other I baked in the same Dutch oven, pre-heated. The breads were identical in weight. They were cold retarded overnight in bannetons and then proofed at room temperature for 2 hours before the first bake. The loaf baked in the pre-heated dutch oven proofed for 45 minutes longer, while the other loaf was baking. The second loaf was baked for 7 minutes longer than the first loaf, to get a darker crust.



Boule baked in cool Dutch oven on the left. Boule baked in pre-heated Dutch oven on the right.


In spite of the fact that the loaf baked first was relatively under-proofed, the loaf baked second, in a pre-heated Dutch oven, got slightly better bloom and oven spring. I won't be slicing these until next week. They are for my Thanksgiving guests. So, I don't know if there is any difference in the crumb structure.


Overall, I'm happy with both loaves. The differences are very small - arguably of no significance. While pre-heating the Dutch oven does appear to result in slightly better oven spring, the convenience of not having to pre-heat the Dutch oven may be more advantageous for many bakers.


Addendum: Okay. So, I'm weak. I had to try the bread, since it was the firs time I'd baked it.


The crust is crunchy-chewy. The crumb is less open than the "Basic Country Bread," as expected. The 17% (by Robertson's way of doing baker's math) whole rye does make a difference. The crumb is very cool and tender. The aroma is rather sour, but the flavor is less so. The surprise was the prominent whole wheat flavor tone, even though all the WW is in the levain, and it only amounts to 50 g out of a total of 1100 g (my way of doing baker's math). I expect the flavors to meld by breakfast time tomorrow. I think this will make great toast with Almond butter and apricot preserves.



Country Rye, cut loaf



Country rye, crumb


David


Submitted to YeastSpotting

Comments

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi David,


Thanks for taking the time to do this test. As you say, there really is no appreciable difference in the end result. As for the loaves, they look excellent! Great colour and spring on both. I hope you enjoy your Country rye as much as I've enjoyed mine. Wishing you and yours a Happy and safe Thanksgiving.


All the best,


Franko

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Both are beautiful boules, David.  How large are your Dutch ovens?  What do you use for proofing?


I'm currently reading Tartine Bread and enjoying it.  I guess I had expected something new and unusual, but the mixing and  folding techniques are something  I'm comfortable with, especially as I've been using SteveB's double hydration, hand mixing method lately in my baguette follies.


What I can't visualize, however, is his instruction of inverting the basket containing the bread and turning the dough into the hot pan.  I imagine you have to be wearing OveGloves or some other protection, which are clunky.  I can see proofed dough falling into the pan and going plop and splat.


How is this accomplished without affecting the dough?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The DO I used is about 5-6 qts, I'd estimate. (I haven't measured it.)


I used linen-lined willow bannetons to proof these loaves - the 1.5 lb size.


As far as transferring the dough to the hot DO, I transferred to parchment slings, scored, then lowered the loaves in the sling into the DO.


There is a really nice video of transferring a boule into a hot La Cloche on Breadtopia.com. You grasp the banneton with your thumbs and place your fingers on the dough. Then, you turn your banneton over, still holding the dough in with your fingers. When the banneton is properly positioned, centered over the Cloche, you extend your fingers, letting the boule drop into the Cloche base. This should work with a DO, I'd think.


David

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Watched the video - the cloche bottom has no depth, so the dough doesn't drop as far as it would with a DO.


While I have a five quart Lodge DO and a 10" Lodge fry pan which the large pot covers perfectly (the combo cooker concept), I think lowering the dough using parchment strips makes more sense than having to lift a heavy hot pot and center it over the hot fry pan.  


Appreciate the info.

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

Thanksgiving. Will you freeze them until then ?


Anna


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Unless I have to taste one ... just a slice ... 'cause I have to be sure it's good enough to serve ... and I'm weak.


David

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

Thanks for testing the two methods, David.


I looked at the photo first and noticed my loaves were not that dark. Rye would be the difference. LOL


Both times I tried with the unheated Dutch oven, I let the bread rise in the Dutch oven. Nice texture and holes throughout. Nice crust color top and bottom. A probe thermometer was used to check when they were done.


Used four-quart, cast iron Dutch oven. Mine were very slightly under-proofed; checked with "poke" test.


Since you saw no appreciable difference in the end result, I will happily stick with using the unheated Dutch oven.


Happy Thanksgiving!

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

how much dough is in the 4-quart DO (that is, what's the weight of the dough)?


are you using enameled cast iron or non-enameled?


thx - SF

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

Apologies for not seeing your question before.


I used the NYT Lahey recipe. 3 cups of flour. Did not weigh anything and do not know the weight of the dough.


It's a 4-quart, cast iron DO. Not enameled. It is a pre-seasoned DO, but I seasoned it a couple of times with Crisco before using it for cooking. Before placing the dough in the DO to proof, I added a very thin layer of Crisco to the interior of the DO.


If I tried this in an enameled DO, I would still use Crisco on the interior before adding the dough based on the theory that if bread pans need shortening, so will DO's.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi David,


Thanks for testing this. This is an interesting outcome, particularly as I am not keen on hefting very hot Dutch Ovens. Can I ask what temperatures you used in each case for preheating the first oven and maximum ultimate oven temperature for the second?


Thanks, Daisy_A

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Daisy.


The oven was pre-heated to 500ºF initially but turned down to 450ºF when the first loaf went in (in the cool DO). I left it at that temperature for the rest of the bake and for the second loaf as well. (I did not raise the temp. back up.)


David

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I'd be happy to volunteer to taste the two loaves to see if there is a difference in flavor. They both look spectacular.

Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Good news!


There happens to be an unexpected vacancy on the tasting panel. Your application has been received and will be expeditiously reviewed by the Tasting Panel Admissions Committee. .... I am pleased to report that the TPAC has accepted your application. Congratulations! 


David

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I don't think I could stand to taste hundreds of pieces of mediocre bread. Let's just skip to the finals.

I'm training for my tasting panel duties with toasted Polish Country Rye.

Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Not to worry. All the breads are above average. :-)


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

great side by side experiment.  I have always had doubts about the cold pot..it certainly gives a great looking boule...much to my surprise...Thanks, David!


Sylvia

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I really need to get a dutch oven to try this method!

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

sometimes they have great sales on them. Mine comes from there too, love it.


It is the one without feet, so I can use it on the stovetop as well.


anna

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

I have the Lodge cast iron pizza pan. The instructions call for placing the pizza dough in the pan, adding toppings, then putting the pan in the oven. Works great.


I have also placed the pizza pan in the oven and let it heat about 15 minutes or so, then used a pizza peel to place the topped pizza on the pan. Works great.


The pizzas are basically the same whether I use a cold or a heated cast iron pan. Both bottom crust and toppings done well. Oven at 450 degrees, next to bottom rack position, electric oven.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Was that the baking time did not seem to need increasing when using the cool DO method.


Comments?


David

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

I used the time suggested when using the Lahey recipe in a cast iron DO and checked the internal temperature with a probe thermometer. No problem. I was surprised the first time because I thought it would take longer


When doing the pizzas in a cold pan or a hot pan, the timing is about the same; within a minute. In those cases, I took the pizza out when the tops looked about right.


If you are also using cast iron or enameled cast iron, the reason must be the ability of the cast iron to conduct and retain heat. I know it is suggested that cast iron skillets be used at a lower heat setting than other skillets, and I do so.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

In your post you say that "The loaf baked in the pre-heated dutch oven proofed for 45 minutes longer, while the other loaf was baking...In spite of the fact that the loaf baked first was relatively under-proofed, the loaf baked second, in a pre-heated Dutch oven, got slightly better bloom and oven spring."


Do you think that the difference in proofing time (rather than cold vs preheated Dutch Oven) could have accounted for the "slightly better bloom and oven spring" you got for the loaf baked in the preheated Dutch Oven?


thx - SF


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


Do you think that the difference in proofing time (rather than cold vs preheated Dutch Oven) could have accounted for the "slightly better bloom and oven spring" you got for the loaf baked in the preheated Dutch Oven?



Au contraire! The less proofed loaf should have had more oven spring. Now, it may be that both were somewhat under-proofed, but still ...


David

happylina's picture
happylina

Hi David


Thanks for your tartine bread Dutch oven experiment!


I just register in TFL  for say tahank you. But I can't submit . I try again.

happylina's picture
happylina

Hi David


I'm a new baker. I  see Jim Lahey 's pot bread in internet. So I try my earthware pot making Tartine bread 2 weeks ago. It's better than before. But not very good. So I search in internet. Find this blog. I see your aluminium dutch oven Tartine bead. So I use electric cooker aluminium pot making my bread. It's brown color. But hot aluminium pot let me no comfortable. So I bake Tartine whole wheat bread with cool aluminium pot in last weekend. the top colour and crack let me happy. Bread bottom color not brown. But it's already better than before.


So Thanks for your Tartine Dutch bread experiment!


I see your this experiment yesterday. I think  I use cold pot again next time. Maybe I try take pot away after 35 minutes.  

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Nice experiment, David!


I have baked both cold start and preheated and not noticed much difference but never done the formal experiment. It is nice to see virtually identical results (seemingly well within the variability of loaves in general).


In my experience with ceramic cloches I did find that I preferred a longer covered bake - say 20 minutes vs. 15 before uncovering the loaf but I would tend to attribute that to the greater insulating properties of ceramics and resultant slower heating. 


Hitting tepid ceramics with 500 degree heat is probably not advised but is clearly okay with cast iron. 


In any event it is certainly easier to work with room temperature cookware than with 500 degrees!


Thanks!


Jay

SCruz's picture
SCruz

David:


If the dutch oven doesn't need to be preheated, then the thinking that it wants an immediate blast of high heat with a continuous and stable temperature is not necessarily correct. If that's the case, then it shouldn't need a stone either. That would mean we simply use a baking sheet.


You've also written that an inverted heavy stainless steel bowl or aluminum pan works fine to cover it.


So it seems that we don't need expensive, hard-to-store, difficult-to-manipulate, and heavy dutch ovens or cloches. A trip to Goodwill for a $2.50 metal bowl and the baking sheet that we all have already is all that's needed.


Life just got simpler.


Jerry

jlewis30's picture
jlewis30

I have been wrangling my old camp dutch oven to make boules, they come out much better than on a cookie sheet (though I do miss cooking more than one at a time. I have not tried starting them off in a cool DO, that will make things a bit easier. I just keep them on a bit of parchment which I use as a sling, the DO is in terrible shape (seasoning wise) but the thermal mass makes a lovely evenly cooked and beautifully golden loaf.

I did pick up a clay cooker at the goodwill recently for a couple bucks. Made some bread in there but the ghosts of past fish bakes made it all a little weird...