Do you want to enjoy golden and crusty loaves of bread at home, but worried about the arduousness of the task? You should get a cast-iron Dutch oven. Baking in these heavy-lidded pots makes creating artisan-style loaves at home very easy.
To make easy bread in a cast-iron Dutch oven, you need to work with a no-knead bread recipe that will at least require four cups of flour. Make your bread dough preheat the Dutch for half an hour, apply oil, or line the oven. Gently place dough inside replace lid cook for the required time. Cool before cutting.
Cast iron Dutch ovens can be used to bake bread because the steam created inside the pot is an important ingredient in the bread-making process. The rest of the article will discuss in more detail how you can bake crisp and tasty bread at home with Dutch ovens in the three simple steps covered below. Keep on reading!
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3 Simple Steps to Bake Dutch Oven Bread
Get Ready to Bake
The first step in baking bread with a cast-iron Dutch oven is to get everything you need ready. A recipe should be at the top of your list (assuming you’ve got your pot ready).
Why not check out my favorite Quick and Easy Dutch Oven Bread Recipe here…
The best recipes to choose for making bread via this method are the no-knead options.
This is because they are typically made of wet dough, which ensures that they’ll release steam when they come in contact with a hot cast iron Dutch oven. Also, in addition to being tasty, the recipes are easy to follow.
When choosing the recipes, look for those that mention using at least four cups of flour (five is even better). This is to ensure you arrive at the optimum size of dough for this style of baking, which is 2lbs (0.9Kg).
You need to prepare the recipe well ahead of when you intend to bake. This is because you’ll need to leave the dough in the fridge for 24-hours first in most cases.
When it’s time to bake, cut out 2lbs of dough. The right size dough will almost completely take up the base of the pot.
Don’t have a kitchen scale? The Etekcity Food Scale and the Ozeri Pronto Digital Kitchen and Food Scale are some options you should consider.
Put the dough in shape, and place it on floured parchment paper or kitchen towel. Make sure the seam side is up covered while the dough rises.
Preheat the Dutch Oven
You need to preheat the cast-iron Dutch oven for around 30 minutes to ensure you get a decent accumulation of steam when you put the dough inside the pot.
This is why it’s a good idea to start preheating the pot around 30 minutes before the rising dough is ready for baking.
While trying to calculate how quickly the dough will rise, you should keep in mind that the kitchen temperature will play a role in determining the speed.
Yeast is sensitive to temperature, so a couple of degrees change, either way, can significantly alter the rise time.
However, most no-knead bread recipes will require anywhere from 1-3 hours for the dough to rise. Softer dough—with a bit more water—will rise in less than an hour in a warm kitchen.
If your kitchen isn’t very warm, you should let the dough rise for an hour before starting preheating the Dutch oven.
By the time the oven is warm, you’ll have waited 90 minutes for the dough to rise—which is usually enough in many cases.
Just put the pot into the oven when your dough is almost ready and set the oven temperature to around 445°F (230°C).
Some recipes will have their own temperature requirements, so just stick with the recommendations in such a scenario. Don’t forget to cover the pot with its lid before putting it in the oven!
In 30 minutes, you’ll have a properly preheated pot and dough that has risen. Now, remove the pot from the oven and carefully place it on a surface such as a wooden board, kitchen towel, or a cooling rack.
You need to ensure it doesn’t come in contact with a cold surface, or worse, cold water. The hot cast iron material may crack in such conditions.
Start Baking the Bread
To begin baking, you need to gently spray some non-stick coating (vegetable oil-based), as well as some flour or cornmeal in the pot.
You’ll have to be careful at this stage to avoid inhaling the smoke that may form during the application of these materials.
Once that is done, carefully lift the towel or parchment paper to turn the dough into the pot. Make sure the seam side is down.
Shake the pot from side to side gently to make sure the dough settles nicely at the bottom. The dough most likely won’t look perfect, but that’s normal. It will look a lot better as it bakes.
Use a bread slashing tool like this Baker of Seville model to create a few slashes on the top of the loaf, then cover the pot with the lid and place it in the oven.
You should allow it to bake for half-an-hour first, then remove the lid and allow it to bake for another ten minutes. This will ensure the loaf browns properly.
After baking, take out the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool completely on a rack before slicing it. If done properly, you should have your nicely flavored, crusty cast iron Dutch oven bread.
Why Does Steam Help in Bread Making?
When you preheat an empty Dutch oven pot, you’ve converted it into a mini steam-injected oven with the added advantage of more evenly distributed heat.
The steam generated in the baking process interacts with the dough in different ways.
The bulk of the steam comes from the moisture inside the unbaked dough. When it’s put into the Dutch oven, the moisture is trapped as steam.
The steam ensures that the crust will remain soft, allowing it to keep expanding during the first stages of baking.
This leads to a sizable loaf that looks very similar to the ones you get from your local bakery.
As the steam reaches the surface of the bread, it will lead to the gelatinization of the starch there.
This leads to a swollen and glossy crust that is the hallmark of a properly-made loaf of the Dutch oven bread.
The steam also makes any cuts and designs you put in your risen dough to look great by pushing it to open up even better.
Steam also influences the taste of the bread positively. The moisture in steam ensures that the surface of the dough stays cool for longer during the baking process.
This ensures that the enzymes in the yeast can continue the process of breaking down the starch contained in flour to simple sugars.
It is the caramelized simple sugars that create the tasty flavor associated with excellently baked loaves of bread.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Bake Bread in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven?
Yes, you absolutely can bake bread in a cast-iron Dutch oven, in fact, the Dutch oven produces the same cooking qualities that are found inside a traditional bakers oven.
Read more about this in my article here…
What Can You Use Instead of a Dutch Oven for Bread?
Bread baking requires a very hot oven. That said any cookware that withstands temperatures of 400 degrees Fahrenheit or more. The cookware should also have a lid to keep the steam in for optimum results.
If your available cookware does not have a lid your can improvise by designing a makeshift lid with foil to keep the steam in. Leave room for the last rise that will happen when your dough starts to steam.
Check out my article here about Dutch oven alternatives.
What Size Dutch Oven Is Best for No-Knead Bread?
A 5 or 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven is the best for making no-knead bread that requires 4 to 5 cups of flour.
Conclusion – How to Make Bread in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Baking bread in a cast-iron Dutch oven is relatively simple, once you have a recipe and can prepare the dough.
The major point to keep in mind is to preheat the pot properly, so it is ready to work the moisture in the dough into the all-important steam necessary for the final result.
You should also remember to give your dough the right length of time to rise.
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One-Pot Cooking Rocks
Thanks for the video music – Ben Sound