The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

WFO vs Dutch Oven Baking?

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BigelowBaker's picture
BigelowBaker

WFO vs Dutch Oven Baking?

I've been considering jumping in and building a WFO for a long time, however, logistically, it would be very difficult where I live. Over the past few months, though, I've really gotten into baking in Dutch ovens, and the results have been amazing.

So, I'm curious if there's anyone out there who's baked in both dutch ovens and WFO's and can speak to the differences/similarities in the quality of the loaves. I know WFO's are hands down better in terms of ability to bake in quantity and for things like pizzas, but for regular loaves, is there much of a difference from loaves baked in Dutch Ovens?

Here's a pic of some of my dutch oven results for comparison sake :)

SCChris's picture
SCChris

You’re correct with regard to volumes of bread and if you are looking to increase the volume of bread that you bake, then a WFO is a viable option.  Considering the volume of bread in the picture, you need something more than a home oven.

With regard to the quality of the breads baked, combo cooker vs wfo, this is going to depend on steam and this relates to both your WFO as built and how and if you add steam to the bake.  I have a 43” Pompeii style oven and have baked 18lbs of breads at a go, misted using a garden sprayer.  I get a reasonably good crust with this method but not quite as good as using the cast iron combo cooker.  The combo cooker has less excess space around the loaf, loaves than my oven, and so the steam is held closer and holds a higher humidity and this allow the crust to develop deeper into the loaf than my WFO.  I believe that there are a few design changes that would make a difference.  First an Alan Scott style oven with minimal interior height will maximize the humidity around the loaves during those critical 20 first minutes of crest formation.  A Pompeii style can be made with a low interior height to achieve the same results but my opinion is that a AS oven is more efficient with regard to loading than is a Pompeii. 

Second an active method of steaming, real hot steam would really help and Faith in Virginia put together a steamer that is very intriguing.  Until I put together a similar device, I’ll continue to mist the interior. 

I’d like to recommend the following reading: 

From the Wood-Fired Oven: New and Traditional Techniques for Cooking and Baking with Fire

By Richard Miscovich

 

Additionally check fornobravo.com forums for helpful wfo info.

 

Chris

BigelowBaker's picture
BigelowBaker

I've managed to get quite a lot out of my home oven -- although slinging 6 dutch ovens around for a few hours can be quite a bit of work :)

Looks like a great book -- thanks for the recommendation!