The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dutch Oven Size??

markdabaker's picture
markdabaker

Dutch Oven Size??

Just curious but I know Ken Forkish has adapted all of his recipes for using a 4 quart. So I bought a Lodge 4 quart Dutch Oven and have been using it ever since.

Now I'm considering buying one of Jim Lahey's books but he clearly likes the 5 quart Dutch Oven.

So should I take the plunge and buy a 5 quart Lodge? It's pretty reasonable on amazon.

Oh, and one more thing. Would the 5 quart be better for baking most loaves or even converting? I know a lot of Ken's recipes are specifically for two loaves. Since i haven't read Jim's book I'm guessing that most of his recipes are for one loaf, and this is why the 5 quart is recommended. Is this correct? And do many of you find you cook more with the 5 quart than the 4 quart?

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

I am not a big fan of Forkish, so I can't say much about his recipes or methods, the book just didn't appeal to me, but in general,  I don't think you would gain much by going from a 4 quart to a 5 quart.  I agree that if the loaf is much smaller than the DO, you lose some of the benefit of the trapped  moisture -  both because a smaller loaf gives off less moisture, and there is more airspace for the steam to disperse into. In my limited experience, the difference is seen only with wide variations is size.  More to the point,  since Lahey will likely use bakers percentages, you can always adjust his recipe size up or down to make a loaf of the size you want.  I think your money would be better spent on other baking equipment,  unless of course, the size of loaf you want to make is too big for a 4 quart DO.   Note that even if the recipes are not in bakers percentages, it is still pretty easy to convert.  I make all my loaves with 450 grams of flour.  So if I find a recipe that call for say 500 grams of flour    450 divided by 500 equals .9.  So I just use a calculator , or a spreadsheet if it is a complex recipe) and multiply each ingredient by .9.  

7oaks's picture
7oaks

Forkish says that  all his loaves are baked in a 4 qt DO, 10ins in diameter at the top and 4 ins deep. He also says that  his recipes  work in a 5 qt DO but that oven spring might be affected due to less vertical pressure than he gets in the confines of a 4 qt one. His recipes are generally for two loaves.

Lahey uses a 4.5 to 5.5 qt pot, the Lodge 5qt for  example. His recipes are  generally using 400g flour for a single loaf. My guess would be that your 4  qt DO will be just fine for the Lahey recipes but you might find your loaves have a bit more height and more pronounced oven spring using the slightly smaller DO.

If you are happy with the 4 qt DO why get another? If it seems to be a problem you could scale back Lahey's ingredients but with the yeast  at just  1g in many of his recipes I hope you have a good set of precision scales!

Alan

markdabaker's picture
markdabaker

Alan, believe it or not I was planning on purchasing another 4qt lodge based on recommendations from Mr. Forkish. But then I added one of JIm Lahey's books to my list and saw he was recommending a 5qt so that's why my question appeared. I also added Nancy Silverton's book to my amazon basket and I'm super excited about hers since I believe hers is a straight, sourdough book.

Anyway, thanks. If I can stick with the current tools I have I'm fine. And yes, I have several digital scales at my disposal.

Mark

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

What on earth does this mean?

oven spring might be affected due to less vertical pressure than he gets in the confines of a 4 qt one

7oaks's picture
7oaks

I think that Forkish is saying that  a 5 qt pot will be wider than a 4 qt one so the dough is likely to spread out further horizontally and so the dough may rise less in height as a result of that extra width - less vertical pressure.

I think that is logical?

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

Hmmmn. OK, if that's what you think he means. I would have said "height". But that's just me.

pintolaranja's picture
pintolaranja

I've been using it for quite a while and for boules using 400-500g of flour (maybe even 600?) it is just fine.

My only issue is I can't really make batards unless they are small, they'll be longer than the pan. But at some point I bought an oval pyrex dish with a lid that works just fine for that purpose. Plus, I still get to use it for roasts of all sorts!

David R's picture
David R

... that you test one of the new recipes, using the Dutch oven you already have. It's very likely that it will work fine.

 

It is best, when baking inside of a container, to use the smallest one that will do the job; confining the space is the whole reason for using it, otherwise you'd bake on a stone or a baking sheet.

 

If you find that the 4-quart won't do the job, well, as you said, another plain iron DO in a larger size isn't very expensive. (But takes up storage space you could have used for something else!)

 

It's also nice to not have to buy a whole new pot for a recipe you're not even sure you like yet.

markdabaker's picture
markdabaker

Agreed David, thanks. After all, I have to find space for all the wonderful books on bread I just bought. lol. Oh, but I do have several origami shelves in my kitchen so I have place to stare my DO's.

David R's picture
David R

... shelves out of origami, that are strong enough to store cast iron pots on, then baking is going to be child's play by comparison. 😁

markdabaker's picture
markdabaker

David, no, the shelves are not made of paper. LOL. Origami is a brand name and the reason they chose it is because of how easily all of their shelves go together and come apart.

 

BobBoule's picture
BobBoule

Just try what you have and see how it works. I'm a huge Jim Lahey fan and I have both a 5 Qt and a 4 Qt and to be honest I have baked with the 4 Qt for years because it works better for me (I have baked some very high hydration 100% pure Einkorn loaves which are known for being extremely runny so i like the containment I get with the 4Qt Dutch Oven).