The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recommendations for Dutch Oven needed/appreciated

3 Olives's picture
3 Olives

Recommendations for Dutch Oven needed/appreciated

I usually bake in loaf pans, but I occasionally have tried the Dutch Oven method. I have used Pyrex for small loaves and cast iron for larger loaves. Both have worked, but they have their limitations.

I'd like to devote more time to Dutch Oven baking and have some good equipment. Recommendations of size and brand would be appreciated.

barryvabeach's picture

I have had some success surfing ebay for aluminum dutch ovens -  usually you need to go with a glass top version, because many of the others come with some sort of plastic knob on the aluminum top.  I like the aluminum, because I can use it without having to heat it up first,  I just put the dough in it cold, let it do its final rise, then put it in the oven.  I have a 2 quart size that works well with smaller loaves of bread and a 3 1/2 quart one.  I had a 5 quart, but it was too big for me.

yy's picture

Would you mind clarifying what limitations you've run into with cast iron in the past?

Staub makes great dutch ovens that don't discolor the way Le Creuset does at higher temperatures. They're also good investments for your kitchen that you can use for stews, braised dishes, etc. Personally, I'd go for the 7 quart oval oven because I often make 3 lb oblong loaves rather than boules. This sounds huge, but the high capacity allows room for larger loaves to expand without touching the sides and becoming deformed. If you would rather not sell your firstborn to pay for a Staub dutch oven, Lodge Logic makes "combo cookers" that you can find on Amazon.

Regarding plastic knobs: You can almost always unscrew and remove them so that the whole thing can go in the oven. If you're concerned about steam escaping through the hole, you can use bunched up aluminum foil to plug it up. Some TFL bakers have also had success baking in cast iron without preheating:

richkaimd's picture

This simple process works perfectly:  put any such pot or pan into a plastic bag big enough to seal with a twist tie once the pot is in it.  Put into the pot or pan an ammonia (without soap) soaked rag or piece of newspaper.  Seal the bag.  Let this sit for a couple of days.  Take the pan out and wash it with soapy water.  Throw away the bag.  Voila!  Couldn't be simpler.  This makes the purchasing of this kind of cookware (this process isn't limited to Le Creuset enamel coated cast iron pans; it works on all) at yard sales a snap because many people sell them all stained not knowing that they can be made to look like new!

yy's picture

Great tip! Thanks!

Dragonbones's picture

I like the 5-qt. Lodge double dutch because the lid can be inverted and used as a pan to make pan pizza, or the whole thing can be used to bake a boule. I have only tried with it preheated to maximum. I take out the smoking hot pot, open it, then carefully lower a boule into it using parchment, put the lid on, and put it back in the 250 C oven. I get fantastic oven rise and crusts this way, but also some scars on the sides where the parchment folds up as it is lowered in. I suppose I should invert the pot and load the boule onto the lid instead, then cover it with the pot body as if the latter were a cloche but I've only thought of that just now, LOL