The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dutch Oven Question

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Dutch Oven Question

Greetings all.

I see a lot of recipes that use a Dutch oven or similar cast iron receptacle. I can barely lift an aluminium tin due to health issues so wondered if there is an alternative that I could use to a Dutch/cast iron pan that doesn't compromise the properties they have in regards to bread making?

Connected to this question is: do they really need to be heated up for an hour in advance of using? Why is this compared to other cooking vessels that don't need as long.

naturaleigh's picture
naturaleigh

Hiya!  I've read that enamelware works nearly or just as well as the 'mainstream' DOs.  They are much lighter and easier to use.  I can't comment on how they work as I currently use clay bakers, which are lighter than cast iron but still a little heavy.  The reason they need to be pre-heated is so that the dough comes into contact with high heat right away, to help with oven spring and crumb, and to try to replicate the 'steam oven' aspect of commercial ovens once the lid goes on. The time that it takes the DO to heat up is related to the DO itself...lighter DOs require less pre-heating than heavier ones.  Cast iron is heavy and takes a while to get up to temp.  I think the enamelware roasters likely require less pre-heat time.

However, there are some folks that utilize the 'cold start' method where the dough goes in the DO and both are placed in a cold oven, then brought up to heat.  I believe most of the guidance on this site recommend the pre-heat method, but that's not to say the other method is less right or can't produce nice loaves.  Hope this info helps, and good luck with your baking!

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

What a fantastic informative reply naturaleigh. Thank you very much.

What I actually forgot to say is that my oven is the Sage Smart Oven Pro (I believe in America it is called a Breville).

If there is such a thing as a miniature Dutch oven I would love to try it :-)

texas_loafer's picture
texas_loafer

Stainless steel bowl inverted on a pizza stone works pretty well. It is very light weight compared to a DO. 

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Thanks for your reply texas but I struggle to lift pizza stones too :-(

foodforthought's picture
foodforthought

This is the solution your first responder referred to. I load my dough onto a pre-heated ceramic stone, place a few ice cubes around the dough and cover with the roaster. Works great for me. The roaster handles are offset from the lip of the pan, making placement and removal fairly safe and easy. These old-fashioned roasters (sometimes called graniteware) are not uncommon in thrift shops. You can also find new ones in hardware stores or Amazon.

Good luck,

Phil

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Many thanks Phil. 

I’ll have to measure the height of the mini oven to see if the lid would fit; as well as wait until the first of August when us ‘shielding’ lot for Covid 19 are allowed to escape from prison to the shops. 🤪

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Capy, your good friend and mine (Abe) told me about a Lekue. It may be a very good solution for your needs. Not necessary to pre-heat the oven for a long time.

https://www.lekue.com/eu/cookware/mini-bread-maker.html

Abe actually wraps aluminum foil over the holes for the first half of the bake to seal in the steam. It weighs practically nothing.

Danny

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Hi Danny

it was me that told Abe about the Lekue ha ha. It’s a small world. 

I haven’t used the Lekue as I thought it would be too close to the elements. But maybe putting a baking sheet underneath would give protection? Whether there would be enough room at the top elements I will have to try later and see. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Would removing the ears on the top allow enough clearance?

Also, since you Lekue is probably older, have you seen that they now make a smaller version?

If/when you talk with Abe, tell him I said hello.

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Hi again Dan. 

Yes, I believe there is a smaller version. Whether it would be too small I don’t know. I will think about and look at the enamelware or other methods. Removing the ear on the Lekue would mean I wouldn’t be able to close it as the ear goes through the slit to hold it together.

I will certainly mention you to Abe :-) 

SassyPants's picture
SassyPants

Depending on the loaves you are making, a steam table pan inverted over a baking stone works or even a cookie sheet with a cheap disposable aluminum pan over the top.

I have dutch ovens but they get heavy, fast. Basically you are looking for a cover to contain steam. The thinner the metal, the less preheat time needed.

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Thanks for the suggestions Sassy, your explanation makes a lot of sense. I will have a rummage to see what I can find, and if nothing suitable will scour the charity shops for something suitable. I did once have an aluminium wok top which may have been suitable if the knob on the top was removed, but I’m sure I got rid of it because of space 😢

dbazuin's picture
dbazuin

https://www.thespringoven.com/

It is not heavy. 
if your interested I can weight it for you. 

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

This looks fantastic except for 2 things. Unless I have missed it and not looked properly (very possible the state I am in this morning:-)) there is no sizes given. Remember this is the Sage mini oven and lit looks quite big. The second is the expense. I nearly keeled over when I saw it was £80. I absolutely love the concept of it though. The channel around the edge makes one think, 'Why didn't I think of that?'  I'm wracking my brains now thinking how can I simulate something like this. It looks a great idea. Do you have one? 

dbazuin's picture
dbazuin
Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Unfortunately, although the length and width will just fit; the height is too high for the oven. Disappointing :-(

naturaleigh's picture
naturaleigh

The enamel roasters do come in a smaller size.  If you could find a small steel or pizza stone that you could just leave in the oven, you could place the dough right on there and then use the bottom of this as a 'dome', which I think is short enough (given the dimensions of the toaster oven):https://graniteware.com/product/round-covered-roaster/

Good luck!  I hope you find something that works for you!

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Many thanks for this tip. I will certainly have a look round the charity shops and also HomeSense where they have good bargains. 

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Well, yesterday I was very fortunate and bought this small version of enamelware for the Sage mini oven. I only hope it will be big enough - I was thinking of scaling recipes to half or 2/3rds. By turning the lid upside down, it fits between the metal prongs of the oven rack, and also between the elements. What do you all think? Will this work? Only concern is if the upside handle is up to the heat; it goes up to 250C, but because it is such a confined space, that is what gives me concern. Unfortunately the photo has turned upside down for some strange reason, but I’m sure you get the drift   

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo


If the pot and cover is oriented properly will it work? If not, what if you placed the pot bottom only in the oven and covered the top with foil?

Or you could use the bottom part as a cover if you have something flat to place it on. Of course everything is contingent upon the bottom portion being high enough to accommodate the rise loaf.

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

It isn’t recommended with mini ovens to do this due to the closeness the foil would be to the elements; although before  I knew this, I had been using foil and  parchment. .

Even if I did it the way you suggest; wouldn’t that have made buying it a waste of money as I could have used an alternative container? I thought the idea of the Dutch oven /simulated alternative,  is to retain steam better? 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Why are you not planning to use it right side up?

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Because folk here in their suggestions, and also on the internet, have suggested it being upside down/or upside down on a pizza stone or peel. 

I have just tried it the right way up and the little handle comes right underneath where the middle element is, so it could possibly blister? Whereas upside down it slots in downwards between the metal rungs  of the oven rack. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I guess it will require some experimentation.

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Isn’t that the case a lot of the time? 😀

naturaleigh's picture
naturaleigh

Hi Again, Capy!  Regarding the suggestion to use the DO upside down, when I mentioned this in an earlier comment, that was with the thought of also using a small baking stone that could just live on the bottom rack of your oven.  Then, the real bottom of the DO could be flipped over/placed over the dough after you placed it on the stone.  You wouldn't need the lid to the DO that way.  Since the lid is curved and I believe has an indention where the handle is, I'm not sure if that would work with the dough.  But, I suppose there is only one way to find out if that will work (via what is displayed in your photo), so there you go!  Maybe a piece of parchment paper would help.  Anyway, let us know how it all turns out!

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

I guess it might sink ha ha.  It is a difficult situation and I may have to abandon the idea because if the elements. Do you think it would bake evenly or not if the complete enamel ware was set backwards slightly towards the back of the oven? That way the handle would be between the back and middle elements.  
At the moment I am having sourdough issues and getting quite despondent even though I am getting wonderful patient help from Abe. Hopefully we will eventually get to the bottom of it so I can then experiment with the enamel baker. I suppose I could try out half a bag of bread mix just to see if it works. 

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Hi everyone.

I have now baked a loaf in the enamel dish as mentioned. I did it 'upside down' as I first intended and it turned out fine. I made a half size loaf. This was the result.

The worst thing I have found and I can't put it down to anything else is that our electric bill shot up last month to far more than we normally use. Because I had been trying to do more in the mini oven than the bread maker, and it has to be on high for a considerable time, that is why. We pay £56 a month for both electric and gas. The electric alone this last month was £76. This is un-sustainable so apart from the occasional treat it will have to be back to the bread maker.  Have any of you noticed this happened when you started using your oven for bread making?

andykg's picture
andykg

buy a baking steel, put that in the oven and then you can leave it in there, the bread then goes on that then put the roasting tin on top of the bread making a cloche which will help trap the steam.

I use this method and it works brilliantly. 

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Won’t it be too big with it being a mini oven?

andykg's picture
andykg

not height wise as from your pic you can fit the whole roaster in, you will only need the body of it which you will use as the cloche and measure your oven or one of the racks then buy one that fits...

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Sorry, I should have made it clearer. I meant the steel. What are the typical measurements of a steel? I was presuming it would be to fit a normal oven width and depth.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

a lot of heat.  Dark pans use less energy to heat what is inside.  

In my mini oven i sometimes use two dark cake pans lip to lip or a loaf pan covered in foil should the top get too brown too fast or just a small frying pan without the handle.  I have also just baked on the dark baking sheet upside down with the loaf sitting on parchment paper.  The sheet pan goes in ten minutes after the oven is heating on the bottom shelf.  A short 5 min warming then,  The loaf slides in using a stiff sheet of cardboard.  No cover.  The oven is small enough to trap steam all by itself.  :)    Rotate the loaf halfway thru the bake.  The inverted sheet pan works great for rolls and little pizzas too slipping them in on small sheets of parchment.

-Mini Oven

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with inverted baking trays.  Left brioche, right 80% rye loaf. The trick to use an economic oven is to use it economically.  DO's are better in gas and larger ovens.  Why waste the heat into a pan?  Bake directly instead. The brioche is actually baked on parchment on a broiling "net" with aluminum foil to prevent over browning underneath.

Capyboppy's picture
Capyboppy

Great idea about the two cake pans. Never thought of that. Sage/Breville do not recommend foil or parchment paper in the oven (Smart Oven Pro) but I must admit, before I found this out I had done so. I did originally start off using it with either no pan at all like in your photo; or in a perforated loaf tin. I now have a small Pullman which has been successful in the two times I have used it. The very first time the dough somehow seeped out and dripped down. It was hilarious seeing what appeared to be frozen in time pieces of bread dough in a sheet :-). I do have a circular dark non-stick pizza sheet too that I have used previously. I guess with everyone raving about Dutch oven styles loaves  I felt the need to try it.