Making delicious, artisan bread right at home is far from impossible. In fact, if you’ve got one of these handy cast iron Dutch ovens, you’re in for a treat! These cast iron vessels are truly a must-have in a kitchen, not just for stews, but for any type of hearty dishes you can imagine-including bread!
Baking your no-knead sourdough bread in a cast iron Dutch oven will result in a perfect golden crust each time without a hassle. Many bakers swear by their Dutch ovens when it comes to baking bread. You’ll see why once you give it a go.
- 1 What Size Dutch Oven is Best for Baking Bread?
- 2 Do you Need to Grease a Cast Iron Dutch Oven When Baking Bread?
- 3 What is the Best Temperature for Baking Bread in Cast Iron Dutch Oven?
- 4 How Do You Make Bread Crust Crispy?
- 5 What Can You Use Instead of a Dutch Oven for Bread?
- 6 What type of Bread Can You Make in a Dutch Oven?
What Size Dutch Oven is Best for Baking Bread?
This depends on the size of the loaf you want to bake. Cast iron Dutch ovens are available in different sizes so you can choose the one that suits your family needs. If you’re baking a bigger loaf for your family, you’d need a bigger cast iron pot.
Cast iron Dutch Ovens are available in several different sizes: 3-quart, 5-quart, 6-quart, 6.5-quart, 7-quart, 8-quart, and 10-quart. If you’re considering buying one now, this gives you the freedom to choose the adequate cast iron pot for your needs. Browse through Amazon to find the perfect pot for you.
However, for the standard loaf and to ensure that the dough has enough space to rise, a larger pot is recommended (5-7 quarts). A Dutch oven of this capacity provides lots of space for the loaf to rise and create a beautiful, golden crust.
If you already own a cast iron Dutch oven, you should adjust your bread recipe to fit its size. For example, a 3-quart pot would be enough for a loaf to feed two.
Do you Need to Grease a Cast Iron Dutch Oven When Baking Bread?
If you’ve never baked bread in a Dutch oven before, you’re probably wondering whether it requires greasing prior to baking. To avoid the dough from sticking to the bottom of the pot, use vegetable oil and lightly spray the Dutch oven before you place the dough inside.
However, there are other ways to prevent the dough from sticking to the bottom of the pan but more on that below.
Can you Bake Bread in Dutch Oven With Parchment Paper?
Yes. In fact, it is highly recommended that you use non-stick parchment paper for baking bread in a Dutch oven. The parchment paper will prevent the dough from sticking to the bottom.
Another thing you can do is to place your dough onto a parchment paper to prove. This makes transferring it to the cast iron Dutch oven much easier.
Bread baked in a cast iron Dutch oven usually results in a darker and thicker bottom part of the loaf. While some may enjoy the thickness of this part of the loaf, others would like to avoid it so here’s how you can achieve that.
Method 1. Before placing the dough in the Dutch oven but after it’s been preheated, sprinkle some coarse cornmeal over the bottom of the pot. This will prevent the loaf from burning and will also result in a not so dark crust. Since the cornmeal (wheat bran, whatever you’re using), absorbs part of the heat, the bottom crust will bake perfectly.
Method 2. Another way to prevent burning of the bottom of the loaf is to bake it for about 20 minutes with the lid on and then remove the lid. Once you remove the lid, continue baking for another 10 minutes. However, make sure the pot is preheated for about 30 minutes before you place the dough inside and start baking.
What is the Best Temperature for Baking Bread in Cast Iron Dutch Oven?
You should refer to your recipe and use the temperature it calls for. The optimal temperature for baking bread in a Dutch oven is 230 C, but this may vary depending on the recipe.
When preheating the pot empty, you should set the temperature to about 230 C. Once it’s preheated, you should transfer the dough and continue baking at the same temperature for at least 20 minutes or until the bread is done.
Should You Preheat Dutch Oven for Bread?
Yes, by all means. The essential step in the process of making beautiful artisan bread is preheating the Dutch oven. Usually, the pot should be preheated for about 30 minutes before placing the dough inside.
Preheat the pot empty for about half an hour before the dough is ready to be baked. Using oven mitts, carefully take the pot out of the oven and place it somewhere safe (such as a cooling rack).
Open the Dutch oven and apply a layer of vegetable oil or drizzle cornmeal over the bottom of the pot (you can also do both). Place the dough inside, put the lid on, and bake.
How Do You Make Bread Crust Crispy?
Nothing compares to the crispiness and the alluring aroma of a freshly-baked bread. But how to make the crust as crispy as artisan loaves you see in professional bakeries?
The answer is steam.
When you preheat the Dutch oven empty, it creates steam which is crucial for the perfect, golden crust we all crave. Once the dough is placed inside, the steam is distributed evenly gelatinizing the starches and creating the ultimate artisan crust just like the ones you see in local bakeries.
What Can You Use Instead of a Dutch Oven for Bread?
If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can use another oven-safe pot, as long as it’s covered. You can even use your soup pot to bake beautiful bread.
The key is to create steam and for this, you need a lid. If your pot doesn’t have a lid or the lid isn’t oven-safe, there is an alternative. You can use aluminum foil to wrap the pot and create a similar environment.
This will help create and keep the steam inside resulting in a perfectly baked loaf with a golden crust.
You can also use a bread machine as an alternative to the Dutch oven, if you own one. Granted, the result won’t be the same, but you can still make delicious homemade bread.
What type of Bread Can You Make in a Dutch Oven?
The Dutch oven is perfect for no knead loaves which require minimum effort, just your patience. The dough is quite easy to make, the longest part of the preparation process is waiting for the dough to prove.
How to Make No Knead Bread?
Making no knead bread requires several basic ingredients and a Dutch oven (or another covered pot). Most bakers recommend leaving the dough to prove for about 18-24 hours it’s not a must. You can make a faster no knead bread by using this recipe.
You will need:
- Warm water
Mix all the dry ingredients first (flour, salt, yeast) and add warm water. Make sure the water isn’t hot but warm (otherwise it may kill the yeast). Stir the mixture until combined and a sticky ball of dough is formed.
Cover the ball and leave the dough to rest at a warm place for 18-24 hours.
Once the dough is ready, use a bit of flour to shape the dough into a ball and leave it to rest. The dough may take between 1 and 3 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. About 30 minutes before your dough is ready to be transferred to the pot, preheat the Dutch oven.
Once the oven is ready, follow the instructions above for transferring the dough and baking.
Important: The dough will be very sticky, loose, and you may have troubles transferring it to the pot but don’t worry. That is exactly how no knead dough is supposed to look like.