The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Oh my gosh baking in a Dutch oven is HARD! It's HOT!

berryblondeboys's picture

Oh my gosh baking in a Dutch oven is HARD! It's HOT!

The first time I did it, I put it on parchment paper and lowered it down - that made the paper misshapen and it didn't look as nice. Today I put the paper in and then the dough... I burned myself (slightly) and I couldn't score it properly AND it basically fell a foot to the bottom of the pan. I wonder how it will turn out - not pretty for sure!

ETA: It turned out pretty good. This from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, Buttermilk bread (again). 100% whole wheat with freshly milled flour. I upped the temp for preheating and I think it gave me more oven spring too.

JeremyCherfas's picture

It is hot, that's true. But I don't find it difficult. I put baking parchment (reusable) on top of the banneton and invert onto a board. Then I score. Then I lower the parchment into the hot Dutch oven. I don't mind that the parchment sometimes crinkles up a bit.

Maverick's picture

This is one reason several of us opt for the combo pan and put the bread on the shallow part, then cover with the deeper one. I know dmsnyder has experimented with the notion of preheating the pans. He has had success without preheating, but to me his best strategy was to preheat only the deeper pan, so that you don't have to worry about burning yourself on the shallow one. Eventually you learn to work with the hot pan, but in the mean time you might try that.

ETA: I forgot to mention that his original experiment was with a dutch oven, not a combo. There was very little difference with the preheated dutch oven.

berryblondeboys's picture

My one pan can be used as lid as it works like the cast iron combo pan. I might try that.

Benito's picture

I use my cast iron Dutch oven to bake my breads.  The dough is scored before lowering the dough into the Dutch oven on parchment.  I then use a wooden spoon to press the parchment paper against the sides of the Dutch oven to prevent the crinkled excess paper from altering the shape of my loaf.

DanAyo's picture

Take your parchment and crumple it up into a ball. Then uncrumple and you will find that the paper is now very shapeable. Try it, you’ll like...


Benito's picture

It’s funny but that’s what i do with parchment when I blind bake a pastry shell for a tart but it just never occurred to me to so that for bread. Duh 😄. Thanks Danny


BreadLee's picture

Oh man that's a good tip! I'll be using that one.  Thanks! 

berryblondeboys's picture

I used my off-white (I have a couple of pots I got on sale and none-match), but now it's got dark spots all over it that I need to clean. I'm just not comfortable using that pan for bread like that. I will be SO SAD if I ruin it for other baking as I use it a lot.

And, after I used it, I realize (though no harm came to it) it has the plastic lid top. If I am to keep using that, I would need to buy a replacement that can tolerate high heats.

What I dream of is getting the spun iron cloche. maybe I'll ask for for my birthday or Christmas

BobBoule's picture

Practice makes perfect, LOL

It took me a while to get use to the screaming hot Dutch Oven but I realized that I just needed to take a breath, take my time, be focuses and careful and all my loaves were transformed overnight.

I use two use parchment paper but it simply added another step to worry about and like anything else, the simpler the process the better is is so I got rid of the parchment paper. If the Dutch Oven is at a high enough temperature then the loaf will release all by itself when it it ready.

I do use a combo Dutch Oven and can use them upside down but I went back to right side up because my loaves were coming out just fine either way.

I did try practicing scoring and it is fun but I now don't score at all, I don't use parchment paper at all (for a while I used corn meal on the bottom of the Dutch Oven which does work but I don't need or use that any more as well). I simply preheat the top and bottom of the Dutch Oven to 500º F for at least 30 minutes, then I set the high hydration dough (I experimented with hydration until I found what worked for me, I never go below 60% hydration and I sometime go as high as 85% hydration if I am in the mood). I focused on practicing on transferring the dough to the hot Dutch Oven because that doe stake skill) and then I quickly put the hot lid on it and close the oven quickly.

Now as soon as the door is closed I drop the temperature down to 450º F and start the timer. I pull the lid off (at different times depending on the recipe) and let it finish. I then pull it out of the oven and tip the Dutch Oven, the bread just rolls out by itself onto the cooling rack.

At this pint the loaf has natural cracking on it, which looks artisanal and eliminates the need for scoring and everyone loves my parchment-free, scoreless loaves. :)

subfuscpersona's picture

You might want to take a look at this TFL post of mine Baking Bread in Cast Iron - No Preheat Method - Photos!

The cast iron dutch oven and lid are not preheated though the oven is preheated. Basically, the dough has the final proof in the room temperature dutch oven which is then loaded into a preheated oven when ready to bake. Avoids the risk of burning yourself. I used a 2-quart capacity dutch oven so if you're using a 5 quart capacity dutch oven (which is a more common size) I don't know if it would work. However, the post got many replies so you may find some useful tips from other TFL members who used this approach.

 Artisan Bread Baked Using Nopreheat Method

joyfulbaker's picture

In my case, it’s unglazed ceramic cloches I use to create the effects of steaming in the oven.  Today was the first time I did not preheat the covers of the cloches.  Just plain forgot.  The dough was my usual one (pain au levain w/ mixed sourdough starters in Hamelman’s Bread).  Yes, I did notice that the loaves had slightly less oven spring than usual, especially the boule (the batard was pretty much same as usual).  But the crust, crumb and flavor were yummy as usual.

berryblondeboys's picture

Interesting. I have 4 and 8 (7.5?) quart iron dutch ovens. What I've been using are two BIG pots, but I keep burning myself!


subfuscpersona's picture

check out this post by dmsnyder Hot versus Cold Dutch Oven Baking: an experiment

He used larger capacity dutch ovens.