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Making the Perfect Dutch Oven Bread

June 04, 2020 5 min read

Making the Perfect Dutch Oven Bread

When you think of a Dutch oven, you probably think of hearty stews, rich chili, or a perfectly roasted joint of meat. But they are also perfect for baking.

If you're new to baking bread, this article will walk you through the process. You'll soon realize that Dutch oven bread is easy to make and looks incredibly professional, and we've also included a simple Dutch oven bread recipe for you to try.

Can you bake bread in enameled cast iron?

Yes. The size and shape of enameled cast iron Dutch ovens makes them perfect for baking bread.

Their tight-fitting lids, which can be left on during the baking process, trap steam within the pot. Trapping the steam will give you the perfect shiny crust every time.

For the best results, you'll want to preheat your Dutch oven before placing your dough inside. This will ensure that as soon as the baking process starts, steam will be created from the moisture in the dough, without needing to wait for the pot to warm up.

You'll find that home-cooked bread cooked in an enameled cast iron Dutch oven will turn out looking like a loaf from the artisan bakery, with a beautifully airy and fluffy interior topped by a golden crust with the crunch and crackle you'd expect from a professional bakery's bread.

With cast iron, bread dough, and the right amount of time you'll be baking the best looking and tasting bread you've ever tried.

How do you keep bread from sticking to a Dutch oven?

If you find that your dough is sticking to the interior surface of your Dutch oven, or it's proving difficult to remove once baked, causing tearing, you can remedy this by preparing the surface before use or you can line your Dutch oven with parchment paper.

Simply coat the inside with a thin layer of vegetable oil using a paper towel or pastry brush, or alternatively use an oil spray to evenly cover the interior. Once you have covered the inside with oil, sprinkle a small amount of cornflour or semolina flour around the sides and bottom of the pot.

You may find that this causes a small amount of smoking as you bring the pan up to temperature - don't worry, that's normal. If there's a significant amount of smoke, you may want to ensure you haven't over oiled the surface, added too much flour, or added it in a way that caused it to form clumps.

How to bake bread in a Dutch oven?

Our favorite Dutch oven bread recipe is simple enough for beginners, but will consistently produce beautiful bread that is sure to wow your friends and family.

This is a no knead sourdough bread recipe. If you don't know how to make bread dough already, this is a great introduction, as it doesn't require the extensive kneading which many other types of bread do (and that's the hardest part!)

Ingredients

Makes 10 servings

  • 3 cups of flour (All-purpose flour is fine for this recipe)
  • 1 & 3/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of yeast (Active dry yeast is best)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of water, room temperature

*The listed amounts are for a 3 or 4-quart pot. If you have a larger Dutch oven, you can increase the amounts proportionally for a larger loaf.

Instructions

  1. To make the dough, mix the flour, salt and yeast together in a large mixing bowl. Use a wooden spatula or wooden spoon to mix the ingredients around as you add the water until you have a ball of dough that is stretchy, not sticky, and has an even consistency.
  2. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it sit in a cupboard at room temperature for between 14 and 18 hours, to allow the yeast to do its work. When you pull it back out, you should find that it has risen significantly (You can use an instant pot to speed up this process. See instructions below).
  3. Preheat your oven to 450°F. You'll also want to put your empty Dutch oven (prepped as mentioned above) into the oven on the middle shelf, as it will need to preheat as well, for the best results.
  4. While the oven is heating up, it's time to shape your dough. Dust your hands and the surface you'll be using with flour to prevent the dough sticking.
  5. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and shape it roughly into a ball.
  6. When your Dutch oven is heated and ready sprinkle a little extra flour on the bottom, then place the ball of dough inside. Replace the lid, and then return the pot to the oven.
  7. For the first half an hour, keep the lid on. During the last 15-20 min of cooking time, remove the lid so that the bread can finish forming a gorgeous brown crust.
  8. Let the bread cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving it. Congratulations on your first Dutch oven loaf!

Proof bread faster with an instant pot

Waiting for bread to rise is a slow time-consuming process, and if you forgot to account for it when planning your cooking time, you can really get caught in a bind. If you have an instant pot, you can significantly lower the amount of time you need to let your bread rise or proof.

The yogurt setting on instant pots can provide a low consistent heat much like the professional proofers that bakeries use.

Instructions for instant pot bread proofing

  1. Lay dough on a sheet of parchment paper.
  2. Insert your steaming rack into the instant pot.
  3. Place the parchment paper containing your dough on top of the steaming rack.
  4. Securely attach the lid.
  5. Set the valve to "venting"
  6. Press the "Yogurt" button on low mode
  7. Remove dough when it becomes bubbly and sticky.

*The process length may vary between pots, but it took about 24 min for our dough to double.

What types of bread can you make in a Dutch oven?

Once you've mastered the basics of baking bread, there is a whole range of Dutch oven bread recipes out there for you to try. You can get started with kneading your own dough, which is tough at first but satisfying (and a great forearm workout!).

You can experiment with adding toppings to your loaves, such as seeds, grains, or even cheeses.

You can also add ingredients to the dough itself to make a fruit bread or flavored loaves.

There are hundreds of combinations for baking bread to try out with your Dutch oven - the possibilities are there to be explored and enjoyed!



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