Sourdough in a camp dutch?
I like to camp, and I like to bake naturally leavained bread. So, since I cook many loaves in a dutch oven in my home oven, I figure that I should be able to do this in a camp dutch using coals for heat......right? :)
I did a bunch of scouring the internet looking for information from people who have done this, and then dove in and gave it a try with my 50% WW sourdough recipe that I can reproduce pretty faithfully in the regular oven. So, all the pre-baking steps were the same for this loaf as usual, as my focus was on figuring out the baking portion (before I get into the logistics of mixing, bulking, shaping, etc. in a campsite setting....) I've only got one camp dutch oven (the one with legs and a lip on the lid to hold the coals) and it's a 12" deep size. I started with 36 lit briquettes (24 on the top, and 12 in a ring around the circumference of the bottom of the oven. I let it pre-heat for about 30 minutes. My IR thermometer was reading about 300F at the top of the oven and 200F at the bottom (reading outside oven temp, so likely a bit higher inside.) I added more coals to the top, since my reading told me that more top heat was better.
I took the loaf from the fridge, slashed it (forgetting that I had put it seam side down so I didn't need to), and put it in the oven. Every 10 minutes, I rotated the oven 1/4 turn, and the lid 1/4 turn in the opposite direction. After 40 minutes, I opened it up to check on it, and the internal temp of the loaf was 204F. I removed the loaf to let it cool. It did not get a ton of oven spring, and appeared to have spread out a bit before rising much. The crust was a pale brown, with very little evidence of bloom at the slash/seam site.
My rather uneducated guesses about the factors that affected this first attempt are: (1) the oven wasn't hot enough, so didn't get that good initial heat to start the spring; (2) I think I overproofed the loaf a bit which likely contributed to the lack of spring as well as color (again, also related to heat); (3) I'm really wondering what to do about the fact that the dutch oven is closed the whole time, therefore keeping the bread in a steamy environment for the whole cooking process; (4) my DO is possibly too large for my loaf size, and I may be better off with a 10" DO, or a larger loaf.
I wish I had taken some pictures so that there was more to go on in this post, but I am wondering if any of you have cooked bread in a camp dutch. If so, have you ever produced something comparable to what comes out of your dutch oven cooks in your home oven? What is your process? What do you do about the steam (I think I'll vent the lid after 15-20 minutes next time? What amount/type of coals do you use to achieve 475F or so in your oven?
I will keep experimenting with this process, as I think a freshly baked loaf of bread would not only be fun to create in camp, but would be even more delicious enjoyed out in the woods! :) Thanks in advance for any experience, or musings you might have!