Baking bread in a Dutch oven may seem, to some, too difficult to attempt. A Dutch oven, when used correctly, will give you a loaf of bread that looks like you purchased it from an artisan baker.
Just like the sourdough bread from the famous Boudin Bakery in San Fransico…
In fact, a Dutch oven is the closest cooking pot that emulates a traditional Bakers Oven. More on that later…
What size Dutch oven is best for baking bread? Any Dutch oven sized between 5-1/2-Quarts and 7 Quarts is the perfect size oven to bake a standard size loaf of bread of your choice. A larger size will allow you to double the recipe or prepare bread rolls or bread in shapes other than round.
Baking Bread in a Dutch Oven
To many of us, bread baking conjures up visions of our grandmothers spending a day preparing a loaf of bread pounding, kneading, rising, kneading, rising, kneading, rising, rising… finally baking.
Well, I am here to tell you that bread has evolved along with most other things in our lives.
Yes, bread making is an art form. An art that presents us with the most beautiful looking, exquisite smelling and a feast for the tastebuds loaf of bread we all love to eat.
But with the evolution of bread and the science behind bread-making “NO Knead” has also come into our lives. No-knead is also evolving every day.
Ways are being created and opened up to home chefs to be able to make bread quicker and easier at home every day.
Why Bake Bread at Home?
There are many reasons why one would choose to bake bread at home. The top three and most important reasons are;
We all know about additives. Predominately they were added to food to elongate its freshness and shelf life, also to make food taste better. (Argh)
But as time has gone by additives have increased and food is lasting longer.
We all want healthy and fresh ingredients in our food – unfortunately, almost always you will not know exactly what has been added to the pre-prepared food you purchase.
Once you have the standard ingredients, including a Dutch oven, for bread making in your home you can prepare a loaf of bread at any time.
Remember you can freeze bread – yes even homemade bread.
Toast and butter smell and tastes just as good as fresh bread…
3. Pure Enjoyment
Deriving enjoyment from a piece of freshly baked and butter bread that you made.
We all deserve the time to enjoy this simple pleasure! Regularly…
Read more about making bread in a Dutch Oven in my article here – also get great tips you may not have thought of…
Best Dutch Oven for Baking Bread?
The best size Dutch oven for baking bread is a Dutch oven between the sizes of 5-quart and 7.5-quart – to accommodate the standard loaf of bread recipe.
- 5-quart to 7.5-quart provides plenty of room for the loaf to rise, form, and crust.
- Under 5-quart the Dutch oven can be used for stews and casseroles and is adequate for up to 4 people – BUT there is no room in a small Dutch oven for bread to be baked without adhering and sticking to the sides of the Dutch oven.
Types of Dutch Ovens
There are many types of Dutch ovens made from different materials. The two types of cast-iron Dutch ovens I refer to in this article are the traditional seasoned Dutch oven and the enamel-coated Dutch oven.
Seasoned Cast-Iron Dutch Ovens
The traditional seasoned cast-iron Dutch oven has been around for hundreds of years. This seasoned type of Dutch oven was used over open flames.
Even today there are versions of the original oven that are used for campfire cooking. The iron is protected and retains a natural non-stick surface if the seasoning does not break down. Regular use or light seasoning will maintain the iron.
Enamel Coasted Cast-Iron Dutch Ovens
The other is enameled cast-iron which is used in a kitchen setting, it retains most of the features of traditional seasoned cast-iron with a few limitations.
- cannot use outside
- temperature limit
- no preheating – enamel is like glass
- enamel fragile
- limited lifetime
Best Dutch Oven Features for Baking Bread
A good quality Dutch oven will give the optimum results with any form of Dutch oven cooking. Baking bread is no exception.
When you unbox your new Dutch oven, whether seasoned or enameled, give it a very thorough inspection. Check the following of both the oven and its lid;
- cast-iron is smooth without cracks, ridges, and rust
- enamel smooth, no chips or cracks and is shiny
- check around handles that they have adhered to the oven correctly
- the lid is heavy and fits tightly on the oven
- a flat bottom Dutch oven should sit on a surface correctly and not be warped
If you are not completely happy with the oven after your inspection return it before use for a new one or a refund.
You should be aware that the cheaper the Dutch oven the more likely it is that it has been mass-produced. Hence probably a little rough around the edges.
Brands like Le Creuset and others in a similar price range still handcraft, finish, and inspect their products before they enter a box.
So I would fully expect a higher range of Dutch oven will be finished and presented perfectly without required return or exchange.
The lid should not let steam escape when preparing any Dutch oven recipe as the steam and moisture are the foundation of Dutch oven cooking.
The most important feature a Dutch needs to bake bread is a heavy and tight-fitting lid. It is the lid that keeps the steam in and assists the bread to get it’s “RISE”.
The “rise” is what happens to the loaf when the steam hits the dough and it continues to expand before being fully cooked through.
The loaf rises first, the moisture cooks the bread from the inside first and lastly, the bread outside of the bread is sealed and crusted up.
Removing the lid at the end of cooking and exposing the bread to the oven browns the crust without drying the bread out.
Best Size and Shape of Dutch Oven to Bake Bread
The size and shape of the Dutch oven are dependent upon the amount of bread you want to prepare in one bake. The standard Dutch oven bread recipe requires an oven either round or oval of about 5 quarts.
The walls of the oven also need to be high. So don’t make the mistake of purchasing a 5-quart shallow Dutch oven as your bread will not have the necessary room to rise.
This size leaves plenty of room for “the rise” as well as enough room for circulation that will give your bread the lovely outer shell.
Dutch Oven Accessories
Ensure that the Dutch oven handles, looped lid handle, and any other fittings it may have attached to it are conventional oven safe. You will be heating the Dutch oven to as high a temperature that the manufacturer permits you do not want pieces melting while cooking.
7 Best Dutch Ovens for Making Bread
Here are my 7 choices of Dutch ovens for making the best Dutch oven bread.
- In no particular order
- I have chosen only the Dutch ovens I have used or would consider using
- Various sizes of cast-iron ovens in seasoned and enamel finishes
- Something for everyone
Click on any of the images and you will be taken to Amazon to see the colors, prices, and all-important customer reviews of these Dutch ovens…
1. Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
2. Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven
3. Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
4. Combekk Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
5. Cuisinart Cast Iron Dutch Oven
6. Crock Pot Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
7. Lodge Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven
Best Dutch Oven Bread Recipe
This is my absolute favorite quick no-knead Dutch oven bread recipe. This is the recipe I use when I do not want to try something new just want a perfect loaf of Dutch oven bread – without thinking…
You can see the recipe with detailed instructions in my article here…
Dutch Oven Care and Maintenance
If you are a regular visitor to my site you will have run across one of the many articles referring to the cleaning, seasoning, and maintenance of cast-iron Dutch oven. So a quick reminder is in order here as well.
Providing you use oil and/or parchment paper I cannot imagine that you will come across any trouble regarding sticking or burning. But if you do go through the usual regime to keep your Dutch oven in perfect working order.
- cool the oven
- hand wash with water and a nylon scourer
- no dishwasher
- dry thoroughly – immediately – both enamel and seasoned cast-iron
- invert inside the oven you used to make your bread and it will be perfectly dry
- store your Dutch oven safely
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Bake Bread in Enameled Cast Iron?
Yes, you can an enameled cast iron is the pot or pan that is going to heat up to the temperatures required to make the perfect loaf of bread.
When covered an enameled cast iron will allow the moisture to be held inside the pot – causing the “rise” of the loaf.
The steam from the moisture will also be what gives you loaf the wonderful crisp crust.
Le Creuset Dutch Oven Sizes
Round Le Creuset Dutch oven sizes range from a small one that feeds 2-3 people to a large Le Creuset Dutch oven that feeds 13-14 people.
Oval Le Creuset Dutch oven sizes range from a small one that feeds 3-4 people right up to an oven that feeds 15-16 people.
See a full range of Le Creuset cookware sizes in my article here…
If you need more information about Le Creuset size by letter you can see my articled here…
What Size Dutch Oven for Sourdough Bread?
As with all bread-making in a Dutch oven, the size of the Dutch oven will depend upon the size of the loaf required.
The ingredients for a standard size loaf of bread 1 1/2 pounds or 680 grams will suit a 5 to 7-quart Dutch oven. There will be plenty of room for the rise, the loaf will not stick to the sides of the oven and it will be finished with a crisp crust.
What Size Dutch Oven for Tartine Bread?
Once again it depends upon the size of the bread you want to bake.
Standard bread recipe
Use this calculation – 1 part bread dough = 5 times the rise (just to be safe) = a 5-quart Dutch Oven
Final Thoughts – 7 Best Dutch Ovens for Making Bread
So just like the gorgeous loaves of artisan bread, we can purchase from the famous Boudin Bakery you too can bake bread in your own quality cast-iron Dutch oven.
Given all the information above – I myself have a 7.25-quart (28cm) Le Creuset round Dutch oven. This size allows me to prepare any dish, or bake for up to 8 people.
One-Pot Cooking Rocks