The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

my problems using dutch ovens...

BLinn's picture

my problems using dutch ovens...

I have several concerns about using dutch ovens. 

1.  LOTS of parchment paper.  Is anyone concerned about using reams of paper for each loaf?  I feel bad about setting my loafs on small rounds of parchment - then re-using them as long as they hold up.  One day, I hope to get good enough to bake without the parchment. 

2.  How to deal with that HOT pot!  Getting the loaf out with crumbly paper from the hot pot - or do you leave it to cool down? ...See #3.

3.  I like to bake 8 loafs in one oven heating.  I don't have that many dutch ovens - or oven space.  So using baking stones & a pan of lava rocks on the bottom of the oven means I can bake 4 loafs at a time.

4. Note:  I recently discovered SOAPSTONE!  The only U.S. quarry is off Rte 81 in Virginia.  We went there & bought 3 huge stones for $150 - we cut them into 9 stones & gave several to friends.  They bake better than ceramic baking stones - but are very heavy to handle.  The guys at the quarry swear by using them on the grill.  If you buy online - the soapstone will be from Brazil (if you care about such things).

cranbo's picture

Why parchment? Flour and a small bit of cooking spray or butter work just fine as baking release in my DO. Sometimes I don't use release agent at all, and only 1-2x in recent memory have the loaves been stuck. 

I'm sure you know you don't need to preheat your DO to use it. But handling it out of the oven has never been an issue: just use good baking mitts or gloves and tip the loaves out onto a towel and then onto a cooling rack. 

You're right about the space issue, they do take up more space. But I think the intent of DO baking is to do one or two loaves at a time in a home setting. If you're baking many loaves simultaneously regularly, even in a home setting, you may be better off looking into a commercial steam injected oven for home, you'll have much more control for the final product and crust color. 

Gluten-free Gourmand's picture
Gluten-free Gourmand

Blinn, the point of using the Dutch Oven is to trap the steam coming off the bread as it cooks to keep the crust moist while the loaf expands for the first 15 minutes of cooking.  This helps the bread to rise and to brown.  If you are having good rising and browning results with a pizza stone or soap stone then it sounds like the Dutch Oven is too much trouble for you - just go with what works!

I do use a Dutch Oven for my own bread baking.  I cook one at a time, sometimes two in a row.  I pre-heat the oven with the DO inside, then pull it out right after scoring the loaf.  I set the DO on the stovetop.  Each loaf of bread is on a piece of fresh parchment paper big enough to grab the corners and lift the loaf into the DO without touching the hot metal.  That's kind of the point of the parchment for me - not having to handle the loaf of bread and risk misshaping it or burning my hands while putting it in the DO.  Re-used parchment is too delicate for this purpose.  If you can get around all this by using baking stones, I say that's a better solution!

I hope that helps!

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Never once have I had dough stick to my pan. Twice I had it stick to parchment. But I confess, I tried to get it off the parchment before baking so it was my bad. 

i just sprinkle the loaf top with rice flour before inverting in the pan and it never ever sticks. Even when I let the dough rise in my loaf pan, I do not grease the pan, just use a pinch of rice flour on the bottom before proofing. 

hamletcat's picture

I'm really new to baking bread, but instead of using a dutch oven I just ended up using a turkey roasting pan and putting the loaf pan inside.  I grease the inside of the loaf pan before I proof the bread with a mixture which is 1 part shortening, 1 part flour, and 1 part vegetable oil.  Someone had suggested it and it works great.  Having said that though, sometimes I still use the dutch oven if I am not using a bread pan.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I put my loaf pan on a cast iron griddle and covered the griddle with the roaster. Bread came out great. But I think you have to lose steam thst way since the roaster is so large. Still, it probably beats using no cover at all if you aren't making steam. 

ericreed's picture

But I don't find I use much. I have a round cutting board just about the size of the dutch oven. I cut a round of parchment paper that size, flip the dough from my banneton onto the parchment covered board, use that to move the dough to the dutch oven and gently slide it in. Much easier on the dough, especially if it's close to being overproofed to avoid deflating, and never burned myself. I do reuse the rounds a couple of times usually too.

Wingnut's picture

1. I never use parchment, just turn the dough out on a floured surface (I use half Rice and half AP Flour), slash, place it (not drop it) into the hot DO cover and bake.

2. You do not need to remove the DO from the oven, just use medium length tongs and tranfer to a wire rack.

3. That is a lot of bread, get two DO and bake two at a time. About 40 minutes each. Or use your stone.

4. See above….



Craig_the baker's picture
Craig_the baker

I bite the bullet and purchase one of those Silicone mats and cut a circle the size of the base of the dutch oven. This is the type of DO that I use.