Is the Lodge 3 quart Combo Cooker large enough for baking the typical 500 grams of flour Artisan loaf? 3 quarts seems small. I believe my Cast iron lidded pot is nearly 5 quart in size.
I use the 3 quart with 450 grams of whole wheat, and actually think it is a little large . The closer you size the dough to the cooker, the better, so 500 should work fine - at least for whole wheat. Might want to wait to hear from someone who cooks with bread flour, but my guess is that 5 quarts would not be ideal for 500 grams.
i just passed on the 3qt Combo Cooker in favor of the 5 qt Dutch Oven (covered cast iron “pot”) because I felt it was too small. I just baked a 1kg boule of 90% bread flour in my 5 qt last night, and it fit just fine, even with lots of oven spring. You might get 450-500 gm of WW in the 3qt but I doubt you will get much more than that, and you quite likely run out of head room with bread flour. To a degree then, it depends on whether you need room for bigger loaves or for bread flour later, or not.
I use the 3 quart Lodge Combo Cooker whenever I want a round loaf, and 500g is my standard size. It's fine, and that includes fluffy puffy white loaves. Like idaveindy I use the lid/skillet as the base, which also makes loading the loaf in a lot easier.
The 5 qt. Dutch oven looks nice enough too, but you couldn't do the lid-as-base thing.
i know that because that is exactly how I use mine. It works very well, and makes loading much, much easier. The 5qt DO is heavier to hoist than the combo cooker though, so it’s not for everyone by any means. Don’t write it off though, either.
I've done 2 pounds of whole wheat dough in the lodge 3.2 combo cooker, But I don't get much oven spring (yet).
Due to the way the combo cooker is shaped and the shape of a boule, you actually get _more_ room when using the lid as a base. Because the taper of a boule generally matches the sloped shape of the inverted pot.
Upside down, the inner diameter of the inside base of the skillet/lid is about 9".
Rightside up, with the pot as the base,the inner diameter of the inside base is about 8".
So if you think it's going to be a tight fit, invert it, and use the "skillet" as the base, and the pot as the "hat".
I generally do a symetrical scoring, a + (plus sign) on top, or make a square, so the little oven spring I get makes the loaf rise _up_ more than expand side to side.
The skillet/lid as base makes it easier to score, and less chance of burning yourself on the pre-heated cast iron.
Just did a 93% whole grain, about 750 g flours, 650 g water, 86.7% hydration boule in the Lodge 3.2 qt combo cooker, inverted, with the skillet/lid as the base.
I used a 9.8" round banneton.
There was hardly any oven spring, but plenty of room had there been. The inner dimension of the skillet/lid is 1" wider than the inner bottom diameter of the pot.
Granted, with a springier white flour loaf, the limit would be closer to 2 pounds of dough.
Lodge makes a 5 qt combo cooker, which Amazon sells for US $39.90, model L8DD3. The skillet/lid is the same diameter as the 3.2 qt model, but the pot is deeper and has straight instead of sloped sides like the 3.2 model.
Just did 1632 g, 3.59 pounds of 100% whole wheat dough in the 3.2 qt combo-cooker. Weight after cooking was 3.00 pounds. 852 g flour, 765.5 g water, 14.5 g salt. 89.86% hydration.
I assume you got plenty of oven spring? I have not been getting great spring, but think it is because I am using a loaf that is less than half the weight of yours, so there is a lot of empty space in the combo with the lid on.
This last 1632 g bake got more oven spring than previous, but still not what I'm looking for.
I accidentally deflated the dough when transferring from banneton to the skillet. but still got more oven spring than previous two efforts.
i'm going to back down in size, use a smaller banneton, and use the pot as the base, as it is 8" inner base diameter, versus 9" inner base dia for the skillet. So hopefully it can expand upwards and not side to side.
May have to grind the wheat finer than I am currently.
Sale over already. as of 6:12pm, oct 28.
As of Oct 28, 2019, the Lodge 5 qt combo cooker, L8DD3, is selling for US $34.99, at Amazon. Regular everyday price at Amazon is $39.90. (MSRP = $64.) These sales/discounts usually last only for a few days. Price includes shipping.https://www.amazon.com/Lodge-L8DD3-Cast-Iron-Dutch/dp/B000LEXR0K?tag=froglallabout-20Weight = 12.37 pounds.