The Fresh Loaf

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Cold Dutch Oven comparison: Photos of Results: Cast Iron vs Pyrex vs Glazed Clay

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JonnyP's picture
JonnyP

Cold Dutch Oven comparison: Photos of Results: Cast Iron vs Pyrex vs Glazed Clay

Hi Guys,

Here are some photos of a recent experiment.  I thought I'd try the shortcut, as described at KAF, of letting my no-knead sourdough bread make its final rise directly in the cold cooking vessel.  Normally I preheat the dutch oven to 500F inside my oven.  This time, I preheated the oven to 500F, used the cooking vessels as my proofing vessels, and put the cold vessels directly into the hot oven.  Here are the results:

(above): Final rise in cold vessel (impatient; I should have waited longer).

(above) After baking: reasonable oven spring.

(above)  Cast Iron bread bottom noticably darker than the others.

(above)  Crusts are not much different.  Definitely not as thick as when I start baking in a hot vessel.

Crumb is OK.

Test Conditions:  Sourdough starter.  75% hydration.  5%Whole Rye; 10%Whole Wheat; 85% Bread Flour.  12hr first rise.  About 1.5 hour second (final) rise.  I probably should have waited longer.  500F oven.  Shiney aluminum disc was placed under the Pyrex in the oven to shield it from IR heat below.  About 25 min covered, then 10 min uncovered at 450F.

Comments: Crust is not as thick as when I use pre-heated oven.  Maybe next time, I'll use reflective aluminum under the cast iron as well.  Generally, I'm going to back to using pre-heated vessels.

JonnyP

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Nice to see a side-by-side, thanks for sharing this. The scorching on the dutch oven doesn't surprise me, although I have found that rack placement does make a difference for this personally (I use the middle rack in a gas oven). 

Personally, I made the opposite switch. I will not go back to handling a screaming hot dutch oven. Not to mention that I generally prefer a thinner crust, so that's not an issue for me. 

Of course, if you want a more browning and a thicker crust, you can try baking for 20min covered and 20min uncovered @ 450F. 

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

after the bread has finished baking (with a normally thinner crust) I remove the bread and put it back into the oven solo to get the crust a bit crunchier/browner.

Anna

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

It is completely counter intuitive that this would work so well. That you can start with a cold vessel should be a good memory point for you. The crusts are thin because of the baking profile, not the cold start. Cranbo has it right above on his advice to shorten the covered time. BTW, you can do that same experiment on a cold baking sheet with similar results.

Eric

JonnyP's picture
JonnyP

Eric and Cranbo,

You can see that my crusts are chestnut brown, with very dark free edges.  Most of this browning occurred after I took the lids off.  If I took the lids off any earlier, then I'd have to reduce the oven temp quite a bit, or reduce overall baking time quite a bit; otherwise the top crust would blacken.  No?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Hi JonnyP, 

Yes, I would recommend reducing the oven temp to 450F overall. I think 500F is a bit too hot for hearth bread. 

With 20min covered and 20 min uncovered, you wont get blackening of your crust if you're baking at 450F for those times. 

Try it once, and see if you like it better than 500F. 

 

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

This is great to see -- especially the differences in bottom crust and that it results in a thinner crust.  I'm thinking that if I keep my tiles on the bottom rack with the cast iron over it that the bottom might stay light.  Maybe ...

Meanwhile, seeing your "well-seasoned" cast iron makes me feel a little better about what mine is coming to look like.  LOL

lumos's picture
lumos

Very interesting experiment. Thank you very much for sharing,  JonnyP.

This is especially interesting for me because I'm one of the small minority in TFL who uses Pyrex with lid instead of more popular cast irons or clay pots.  It's really good that now I now how my Pyrex fares compared to other types.

lumos

JonnyP's picture
JonnyP

lumos,

In the hot days of summer, I use my convection toaster-oven outside on my back porch, pre-heating various dutch ovens inside it to bake my bread.  The glowing heating elements are very close to the bottom of the cooking vessel in this case.  Unshielded, my Pyrex glassware then burns the bottom of my bread in the pattern of the glowing elements beneath it.  My cast iron and stone-ware vessels can also burn the bottom in this situation, but the burn is much more uniform (not showing the pattern of the elements beneath).  It is possible that glassware transmits direct-radiated IR heating.  In a larger home electric oven, you can move the Pyrex glassware much further up from the glowing heating elements below.  Still, I shield my Pyrex with a black pan placed on the rack directly below, or reflective aluminum placed directly underneath the Pyrex.  What kind of oven do you use (gas vs electric)?  Have you ever had problems with burning using Pyrex?  In my home electric oven, I am very pleased with my Pyrex for breadbaking, whether starting cold or hot, but I always use some sort of shielding out of ?misguided? principle.

JonnyP

 

lumos's picture
lumos

Hi, Jonny,

Mine's gas.   I always put Pyrex in a cold oven when I start pre-heating it, so no need for shieling it to protect it from thermal shock for me.  The heat element (naked flame) is at the bottom (at the back) and I usually don't use a fan when I bake large loaves in Pyrex, but so far, have never had problem of burned bottoms....yet. :p  For the dough of about 500-6oog weight, I normally bake for 20 minutes at 240C with a lid, and another 20-25 minutes at 200C without a lid.

The thing I really like about using Pyrex is the flat lid without a nob. I use my Pyrex upside down, sliding proofed dough on to the upended lid and put the casserole part over it as a cover. You can get quite good oven spring by placing the dough onto very hot 'lid' and  less risk of burning yourself by trying to throw in your dough in a heated casserole.  I did try putting the dough in a cold Pyrex and either put the Pyrex in a pre-heated oven or cold start the baking, but neither of the methods gave me as good oven spring as my usual method. I have used a cast iron in the past too, but I find using Pyrex gives me more even colour on the crust, maybe because the glass conduct heat more gradually/gently than metal. And no need to worry about ruining my expensive La Crueset.  Pyrex is so cheap, if I wreck it (which's never happened so far), I can buy another one easily without having to ask for another mortgage! :p

lumos

 

 

JonnyP's picture
JonnyP

Lumos,

The cold-pan approach I described above was a departure.  I normally load my dough into screaming hot pots/pans/Pyrex.    The shielding I use for Pyrex has to do with the proximity of the glass to the electric glowing coils AFTER the vessel is preheated.  These glowing electric coils heat the oven and the cooking vessel very differently than gas.

Still, I'd like to see the Pyrex you use.  Can you send me a photo?

JonnyP

lumos's picture
lumos

Sorry for late response. Been bit busy last few days....

this is Pyrex I use normally. It's not 'Pyrex' pyrex (if you know what I mean..:p) but a same sort of thing. (Don't know who the manufacture is).  Used to cleaner and more transparent but years of hard labour (a.k.a. baking breads) stained it quite a bit....

Right-side up.

 

I use it upside down like this, using the lid as a 'dish' and the main part as a 'cover.'

The loaf (Pain Rustique with Parmesan and young soy beans. Will blog about it soon.)  in the pic is a small one made with only 250g flour, but this is an ideal size for my regular sourdough of dough weight 600-650g, which is an ideal amount for my 500g banetton. 

I have two of those which I can fit both in my oven. Also I have a round casserole with a lid which I use the same way. Been using these for donkey's ears and very happy with all three of them. :)

lumos

JonnyP's picture
JonnyP

Ohh No!   Cold dough retarded in the fridge was not meant to be flipped into 500 deg Pyrex...  Duhh. 

I never used cold retard proofing before, and I did not intend to this time either.  But, I had to leave the house unexpectedly during the final rise, and so I put the dough into the fridge...  I obviously did not give much thought to the consequences of this change in my normal routine.  As usual, I was baking 3 loaves at once.  Of note, my glazed clay baker survived (see photo in original post), and of course, my enameled cast iron is indestructable.

Even with room-temp dough, there may be some wisdom to the parchment paper you use over the Pyrex...

JonnyP

 

lumos's picture
lumos

I often cold retard shaped dough and bake in a hot Pyrex.  Most of the times I leave the dough for 1 hr or so to bring it back to room temperature but occasionally I bake it from cold.  So far I've never had a problem. ::touch wood::     I always turn the dough out on baking perchment or oven sheet and slip it into a Pyrex, so it may be working as a buffer to protect from thermal shock.

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

loaf would fare should you put it into the bowl part of pot #1, covered with the bowl part of pot #2. 

anna

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

I bought a large, oblong, cranberry-colored something something Pyrex bowl at Goodwill without a lid.  I usually top it with a cheapie deep square aluminum pan, but it doesn't fit perfectly.  Maybe if I use it as a cover, what a grand idea. 

THANKS !  :)

anna

 

superczech's picture
superczech

I have a question.

I bake my sourdough bread in the cold dutch oven as well... I put in parchment paper with the foil side down and then put the bread in.... my problem is the bread is always a little bit burned on the bottom... I do 25 mins covered at 500F and then max of 10 mins uncovered at 425F .... 

I do not know how to fix this problem... I played with the temps a bit and the bread came out still raw in the middle :(
Please help :) 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

superczech, in general I think those temps are too hot for loaves.

Keep your long term (more than 10min) baking temps to 450F max, and bake for longer time (40-50 min). 

Also, try baking with the dutch on a rack instead of a stone or pan, if you're not already; I found that too much conductive heat can contribute to scorching/burning as well. 

Finally, experiment with rack placement. Center or upper racks work best for me. 

If it's still raw in the middle and scorched outside, you're probably baking too hot and for not enough time. Check the internal temp of the center of the loaf using a thermometer; when it hits 209-210F it should be done. If it's not there, bake for longer. 

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

presents a problem when it comes time to remove the lid.  Yes, we can attempt to slide out the whole rack, but that pot is awfully heavy and not sure I want a 465 degree pot on my foot or smash the oven glas.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Pyrex was the winner but I don't have one with a lid.  Will try to find one at Goodwill.  I use a CIDO and I'm not going back to preheating it either.  I get great spring, color and bottom crust with it being cold going into the oven.

Thanks for the experiment and posting the results.

superczech's picture
superczech

Thank you so much for all your help.

Adjusted the rack in the oven and got slightly better result.

Now it is time to play with the temps :)

lizgarf's picture
lizgarf

I was excited to try the cold dutch oven method because I've had problems transferring wet loaves or having them stick to parchment.  I proofed the loaf in an enamel dutch oven, with just the lid pre-heating.  The loaf came out with great crumb and a beautiful crucnchy crust, but it got completely stuck to the pan.  Is this a hazard of the cold method?  I'm reluctant to proof on parchment because I've had problems with high-hydration doughs sticking to it.  Any suggestions?  It was so nice to be able to proof and bake in the same pot.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

I have had some sticking problems a few times, and one loaf where it was completed welded to the bottom.  Sesaoned cast iron has worked better for me than enameled steel over cast iron in terms of sticking, but I am still experimenting.  For the cast iron, I hit it with crisco, for the enameled, I was using pam, first time I used a standard amount, and allowed the dough to proof, it welded to the bottom.  The next time I used a very generous amount of Pam, and got some sticking, but did get the loaf out intact.  I use a plastic spatula ( the kind you sue to flip pancakes )  - I have one that is very flexible, and I can run it around the sides, and even force it under the loaf. 

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

eternal.  After soaking my baked-on creation for about 3 days and finally able to remove each baked on morsel and "resealing" the inside of the iron pot, I now use Pam and parchment paper, on which I have done the final proof and just lift the dough into the pot by holding on to the parchment. It has saved a lot of aggravation and the bread turns out great.

 

SCruz's picture
SCruz

I bought lined leather welders gloves at the hardware store. $10. Haven't had even a scorched knuckle since then. You can't hold the 500 degree dutch oven for long, but removing hot lids or pots is no longer a problem at all.

Jerry

 

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

I've been meaning to post this for months, since before I stopped using a hot DO and decided a cold inverted stainless steel bowl was good enough for 1 k boules.

Since one must replace the DO's plastic handle anyway, I included the looped receiver end of a steel sliding gate latch, in the stack of washers and nuts on the replacement bolt through the handle hole.  The loop just happens to perfectly fit our knife sharpener's end.  Easy to remove it from oven w/o gloves or burns, when steaming time is over.

Tom