The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

San Joaquin Sourdough in a Dutch Oven over Charcoal

linder's picture

San Joaquin Sourdough in a Dutch Oven over Charcoal

I've been wanting to do this for a few months now, since we are living in a yurt and the only oven I have is a Coleman 12 inch square oven that sits on a burner of our 2 burner Primus camp stove.  I finally got up the nerve to try the San Joaquin Sourdough formula from Dave Snyder in our 'primitive' digs here on Orcas Island.    

I did do somethings a bit differently than Dave.  First, I took the dough out of the fridge after 12 hour rest and let it hang out at 'room temperature', here that's 62F- 65F, for an hour to take the chill off.  I shaped the dough into a single boule.  Lacking a real banetton I floured a cotton neckerchief really well and lined a plastic bowl with it.  I covered the shaped boule with a light dusting of flour and placed it top side down inside the lined bowl.  Then into the Brod and Taylor bread proofer it went.  (The proofer has been my salvation here in the yurt, we have electricity in the yurt and the proofer does a fine job of maintaining a warm moist environment).  I kept it in the proofer at 72F for 1 1/2 hours.  

Meanwhile, my husband started the charcoal briquettes, and we preheated a 10 inch dutch oven to 450F.  Once that heat was attained we placed the bread into the dutch oven and baked for 30 minutes, rotating the oven 180 degrees at 20 minutes into the baking to equalize the heat in the oven.  The bread came out well.  

Here's a picture of the interior crumb,  Great flavor due to the dark rye flour and the rest in the dorm sized fridge overnight.



isand66's picture

Wow! First it's not every day one gets to use the word "Yurt"!  Would love to see some photos of your surroundings and your Yurt.  Secondly, what a great looking bread even if you were in a normal kitchen setting.

Would love to hear some more about your experiences.


Janetcook's picture

How fun!  And a nice result.  

Wondering if you can dig a pit and line it with your charcoal and put your dutch oven it in and, once preheated, add your dough and bake it in the ground.  Might balance out the heat more evenly….but it might be more work than it is worth too.  Always something fun to try out when trying to get bread baking to fit ones life style.

Thanks for sharing.


linder's picture

Hi Janet,

We have a 2 foot fire 'pit' above ground (so I guess it's not a pit) surrounded by rocks with 2 flat rocks in the center, one for the charcoal chimney to start coals and another on which the dutch oven sits with coals under it and on top.  It works really well.  We experimented with making strawberry rhubarb crisp in a smaller dutch oven for a few times to get the temperature control and gain some experience working with this method. 



linder's picture


Here's a picture of our yurt and surroundings  

We have a 16 ft. yurt in which we have a 42" round table and four chairs, a small dresser/bureau holding our clothes, a 36" book shelf that contains cookbooks(a limited selection of 6) our printer, cordless telephone,space for my bread proofer and scale, rice cooker, electric teapot, and bank box for paper files, as well as 2 inflatable beds.  It's cozy here and luckily my husband and I get along really well(lol)!

To the left of the yurt is the potty tent(outhouse).  It's a small/tall grey tent with the 5 gallon chemical toilet in it that we bought from a kayak touring outfitting store (NRS).  

The shed is 6' x 9' and contains a small dorm-sized fridge, a small 36" worktable with a Primus camp stove, and cutting board/prep area.  I have a 2 gallon jug with a spigot for 'walking' water(we go to the stand pipe in our front yard and bring up a gerry jug of water at a time) inside the shed.  The back of the shed is for garden tools and carpentry tools that Michael needs.  We also have under-yurt storage for extra propane, a tool chest and a bin of worm castings.  

Life is simple here but we also noticed the activities of daily living take longer (no dishwasher, limited space so there's lots of moving this and that to get what you need, lots of steps out of the yurt to the shed and back).  

 Our house is under construction and should be finished sometime in November when we hope to move in.  I've started a single 12' x 4' garden bed in hopes of having some winter vegetables from it.  Lots to do here on Orcas Island.



dabrownman's picture

and you are so lucky to live in such a fine place, yurt and all.  Love the bread and your baking it in an outside fire.  outside and inside look great and the taste has to be better with such fine surroundings.  Bet the fishing is good too.

Well done and happy baking.

linder's picture

Hi DA,

Yes, fishing is good - lots of salmon and dungeness(sp?) crab as well as fresh trout in Cascade Lake in Moran State Park.  We moved up here mainly for the seakayaking which is superb! Lots of inland protected waterways, lots of small islands to visit and resident pods of orcas in the San Juans.  

It's raining right now, but Orcas Island is in the Olympic rainshadow so we don't get as much rain as other places in western Washington.  We get about 28 inches of rain a year - most of it in December thru February.

We recently got internet access in our yurt and hence the end of my previous 'radio silence'. 


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Linda.

I haven't even checked TFL for a few days. I'm so glad I didn't miss your post!

The bread looks great. I'm really glad it worked for you in that setting. I haven't "kept score," but I bet that's the first SJSD baked in a yurt.

I so love the thought of living in a yurt equipped with an electric proofing box - life stripped to the bare essentials! 

I've been on Orcas, for the Fire Chief's son's wedding, as a matter of fact. Let's see ... That must have been 15 years ago. It's a gorgeous piece of the world. 

Thanks for sharing!


linder's picture


Thanks for your kind words.  Yes, life stripped down to its basics (lol) me, a yurt and my Brod and Taylor bread proofer (there's a TV ad in there somewhere).

Orcas is a beautiful place.  We are thoroughly enjoying it.  We went off island yesterday for the first time in 5 months to order appliances for our new home, which will include a 36" Electrolux Icon range.  Now I'll be able to bake full size baguettes and two large loaves of bread at the same time!  


Catomi's picture

This is so cool! I've thought about baking in a cast iron dutch oven when it was hot and my husband complained about me heating the house more  It's nice to know that it actually works. I would have been worried about burning the bottom. Nice work!