The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Can I pre-heat an empty enamel cast iron Dutch oven?

SunnyGail's picture
SunnyGail

Can I pre-heat an empty enamel cast iron Dutch oven?

I just received a 7qt LODGE enamel cast iron Dutch oven and need confirmation that I can safely pre-heat it empty in my oven before baking my bread...I've read all sorts of conflicting information on the web and am a bit concerned now...

Thanks in advance!

Gaëlle

Benito's picture
Benito

Hi Gaëlle I pre-heat my empty Le Creuset enamel dutch oven for 1 hour at 500*F when I'm baking my hearth loaves and now a few years later there is no problem whatsoever.  Even the handle which Le Creuset says cannot handle that temperature is in perfect condition.

Benny

suave's picture
suave

1 hour is an overkill.  Cast iron has good thermal conductivity and should be hot more or less at the same time the oven hits the set temperature.

Benito's picture
Benito

That’s how long it takes my oven to fully heat to 500ºF 

SunnyGail's picture
SunnyGail

I'm relieved! thanks for your reply Benny, I had read awful stories on the internet about all the terrible things that could happen if you pre-heated your enamel DO empty, and started to be really anxious :-))

Booda's picture
Booda

I use a Staub enamel cast iron Dutch oven and like Benny, also pre-heat it at 500 degrees for an hour before baking hearth loves without any problems. 

Richard

SunnyGail's picture
SunnyGail

Thanks Richard!

suave's picture
suave

You can, Lodge should be ok.  It's lower quality off-brand made-you-know-where DO's that may start shedding enamel.

SunnyGail's picture
SunnyGail

Thanks a lot for your reply Suave :-)

Jane Malonis's picture
Jane Malonis

I recently bought an Emile Henry cocotte (a high-quality enamel dutch oven, all ceramic) and I, too, read conflicting info as to whether or not it could be safely preheated empty. Even the info that came with my product seemed to indicate you should not do it, but I'd also seen a King Arthur bread recipe, using the exact same brand and type of pot (which KA sells), that indicated you could and should preheat it. Well, I didn't know if I was coming or going at that point, so I decided to ask the Emile Henry company directl; though they took a while to respond to my query, they did finally tell me that, yes, it is perfectly okay to preheat their dutch oven while it's empty. So, though I have not yet tried it myself, I plan to any day now!

SunnyGail's picture
SunnyGail

Thanks for sharing this info: my first bake with pre-heating my new enamel DO is planned tomorrow morning...Fingers crossed!!

Benito's picture
Benito

I’m sure it will be fabulous.

SunnyGail's picture
SunnyGail

As usual ;-))))))

I'll post pictures tomorrow!

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

that did craze after a few years of using them weekly. I found cast iron pots without the enamel coating and I much prefer them. Loaves stick less and they are easier to clean too. 

I can’t comment on the more expensive enameled pots as I’ve never used those for bread. 

SunnyGail's picture
SunnyGail

It survived !!!! :-)

Benito's picture
Benito

Beautiful loaf Gaelle.

SunnyGail's picture
SunnyGail

Thank you Benito, but I'm afraid my brand new 7qt Dutch oven is still a bit too small for my 1kg loaf :-////

I've still got those wavy ends on the loaf left by the parchment paper...Maybe I should tuck the ends of my dough way more when shaping....That's a work in progress, but at least I know that my DO can handle the pre-heating process, and that's a relief!

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

It can be a little dangerous with a hot dutch oven, but here's how I load my D.O. (and 15" cast iron skillet too.)

With the dough in the banneton, seam side up, I put cut-to-size parchment over the dough. I invert the DO and put it upside down over the banneton, fully touching each other. With one hand on the banneton and one hand-with-oven-mit on the DO I flip them over simultaneously.  I then score the dough, cover, and put in oven.

SunnyGail's picture
SunnyGail

My DO is pretty deep though, so that would mean quite a free-fall for my dough before landing on the bottom of my DO...Furthermore, it's pretty heavy, so I'm not sure if I could hold it with one hand...I will practice while cold just to see how it goes! thanks for the suggestion

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I forgot to mention mine are round. And I purchased banneton sizes to match my DO and skillets. When inverted, my round bannetons reach to, or near, the bottom of the DO pot, DO lid (Lodge combo cooker), and skillet.

Benito's picture
Benito

I’m surprised by that Gaelle, my 6.3 L dutch oven has done 950 g loaves without an issue.  I use the parchment as sling.  I’d be too scared to handle the extremely hot dutch oven as much as Dave does, I’m sure I’d burn myself.  Lifting the dough into the dutch over using the parchment is easy.  I then use a wooden spoon to flatten out the parchment again the walls of the dutch oven so folds of parchment don’t affect the baking bread.

SunnyGail's picture
SunnyGail

I really think it's a shaping issue as the ends of my loaf are not tight enough and therefore tend to flatten towards the ends of my oval DO...I've been working on that lately, but my flour is very extensible and I've had a really hard time building enough strength during the bulk...I've been trying different strategies like lowering the hydration or trying different fermentation times but it's still an issue... It's a work in progress! 

Benito's picture
Benito

Do you ever try using slap and folds to build gluten right upfront?  I almost always use some slap and folds except for baguettes and even my pan loaves which require no folds later one in bulk get fully developed to windowpane with slap and folds.

SunnyGail's picture
SunnyGail

Yes I do - I took a baking course a few years ago with Richard Bertinet and have been using his technique since then.

I think the culprit is my flour, once again: it seems to be very high in Gliadin and therefore makes the dough extremely extensible