March 5, 2014 - 3:49pm
Question: Baking bread in a Cast Iron loaf pan
I like baking bread in cast iron dutch oven but lately I've been baking sandwich bread in a loaf pan. I just purchased a cast iron loaf pan and my question is, do I let the dough proof in the cast iron before baking in a hot oven? Won't the pan take long to heat up? I use the normal aluminum pans and they heat fast to bake the bread. Thanks in advance.
Proofed it in the pan, put the cold pan in the hot oven and covered the pan with another cast iron pan and it baked up beautifully. I have it pictured on my blog.
If your cast iron has been seasoned well it's not an issue to proof stuff in it for a couple of hours. I don't use it to bake in, it'll be doable but I'm having some concerns about its thermal inertia (takes a looonnnggg time to heat up but once hot, holds heat well).
However, I cook all my food in cast iron, even long simmering pasta sauce (acidic, supposed to be a no-no) and never had a problem. The only things not to do with it imo are:
- store wet or acidic foodstuffs in them for a long time (I wouldn't do an overnight proofing) because that's tempting fate + with acidic foods you might leach out iron.
- put them in a dishwasher
- clean them with soap or detergent, just water and a sponge if required.
After cleaning, I put them on the fire to dry them out, then apply a couple of drops of high-smoke point oil and wipe with a piece of kitchen roll. They're perfectly seasoned that way, I can bake omelet, scrambled eggs or pancakes in my pans /skillets without applying any extra butter/oil and nothing sticks. Cast iron is hugely underrated imo, most people who have trouble with it are not using proper technique.
I also have plenty of cast iron and always liked it. My pizza comes out just as good in my cast iron pizza pan vs a stone, and I've baked pizza all different ways. I do my Lahey no knead bread in a round Dutch oven, which is preheated before the wet dough is dumped in. I realize the hot cast iron creates the oven spring, even when I preheat my pizza pan, that is why I posed the question. BTW, I cook eggs, omelets on cast iron, never sticks. My cast iron is well seasoned.
I'm telling you, cooking from cold cast iron allows for oven spring. But try it yourself. See loaf on right below
And back lack loaf here. Both made in lodge loaf pan. Top covers with roasting pan. Bottom covered with second lodge pan. Spring was very good on both.
By the way, I see no reason why a hot surface contributes to oven spring. In fact a cold surface slowly heated should cause more of a spring because a slower heat will not kill the yeast so quickly. In fact, maybe you get too much spring because it takes longer for the yeast to die than it does in a hotter environment.
Sure, if it is already hot, it "springs" because the yeast warm up and become super active. And they die very fast so it is all very quick and springy. But do you care so much about a quick spring vs a slower rise? You may. But it would be for reasons other than worries over a flat bread.
Your loaves look really nice. My round loaves come out really nice like yours using Lahey method and a Dutch oven. Your sandwich loaves, do you use no knead or conventional dough recipe? Thanks so much for your replies. I will bake soon and try, ihave a lot of bread, rolls, muffins etc in the freezer now, lol.
The sandwich loaves were made with the same dough as the round loaves, and that dough was the Tartine Basic Country Loaf, though I don't usually follow the 900 white and 100 wheat mixture for the dough. For those photographed, it was more likely to be 400 grams of white whole wheat and 600 grams of all purpose.
OT but do you notice a big difference in crumb structure between using regular bread flour and such a high proportion of AP flour? Asking because with the AP flour available in Belgium I seriously doubt the crumb would look really good if I were to use such quantity.
I am new to baking and I've only used the King Arthur Organic All Purpose and White Whole Wheat flours, with only the occasional use of Spelt or home blended wheat berries. Never used "bread" flour though I understand the KA all purpose is the equivalent of same in terms of protein content.
Just a word of warning, cast iron can crack if it goes through extremes of temperature, so cold iron, hot oven might prove a bit risky, personally I would either use cold cast iron and bake from a cold oven, or proof outside of the Dutch oven and transfer to the preheated one.
if you'd pour cold water in a hot pot. There the thermal stress over a large surface is considerably more harsh then when placing cold pot in hot oven. After all, one can use cast iron on a gas stove without issues.
Lodge themselves recommend preheating from a low heat. I think it is unlikely and I am sure people do it all the time, but there must be a possibility there.
I believe the warning regarding preheating from a low heat has more to do with the fact that they don't want you to burn your food. The second warning regarding their griddles is more about the risk to the cast iron itself.
As I mentioned, I have cast iron pizza pans. I have fixed the pizza in the pan to put in a hot oven. This did not work as the pan never had enough time to heat up for a nice crust. I now fix the pizza on the peel, preheat the pan, slide the pizza on the hot CI pan. With the CI loaf pan, it has more time to heat up.
I've seen a few recipes, which say to add 5 minutes to baking time, if using cast iron loaf pans, to allow for the heating of the pans.
Is this a fairly universal rule for using cast iron loaf pans?