Dutch ovens are the ultimate cooking tool for any home chef or cook. They have been in use since the 17th century and can withstand extreme temperatures. So why is a Dutch oven perfect for baking sourdough bread?
When a Dutch oven heats up the heat combines with the moist mixture of your sourdough and generates steam, just like in a commercial baker’s oven. The sourdough gets what is called “a rise” before it is then sealed and cooked. Leaving you with a loaf moist on the inside and a crispy crust outside.
Dutch ovens are fantastic tools for baking most kinds of bread. When used with artisanal-style recipes like no-knead and other low-gluten dough, produce a more moist environment that can create better flavor than your standard loaf pan or sheet tray!
If you’ve been thinking about trying this bread-baking technique, let’s deep dive into why Dutch ovens are so good for baking sourdough bread or in fact any bread or baked goods.
What Is a Dutch Oven?
A Dutch oven is a large, heavy pot with tall sides and a tight-fitting lid. The Dutch oven’s tall sides allow for more even cooking of food by trapping the heat inside. A Dutch oven also retains moisture to help keep the meat moist and juicy during its long cooking time.
Dutch ovens are versatile cooking tools. From soups to bread, you can cook just about anything in them. Dutch ovens are a staple in many restaurants and kitchens around the world.
Baking bread in a Dutch oven is the perfect way to make your own bread and enjoy it fresh from the oven. You can make any type of dough, be creative with your toppings, and bake at a lower temperature for longer to get that crusty outer crumb that we all love.
Read more about the only one-pot cooker you will ever need “The Dutch Oven“
What is Sourdough Bread?
Sourdough bread is a type of bread that uses lactobacillus bacteria to leaven the dough. It’s made with flour, water, and salt.
The sourdough starter (a mixture of flour and water) ferments over time, giving it a tangy flavor that can’t be replicated by other types of yeast.
This process also makes for better-tasting bread because the fermentation breaks down gluten proteins in the dough into simpler sugars that are sweeter than their unfermented counterparts.
It’s delicious, but for some, it can be difficult to make because the dough needs to rise slowly over many hours. The longer the dough is left to raise the more flavor the final loaf of sourdough has.
Why is Sourdough Bread Better Cooked in a Dutch Oven?
A Dutch oven is an excellent choice for cooking sourdough bread because
- it retains heat well and distributes the heat evenly throughout the loaf
- gives your load a further “rise” before sealing and cooking it
- will give you an even bake on all sides of your dough while keeping the crust crispier
- this means your dough will cook more evenly than if you were using a regular pot or pan on the stovetop
- they’re also great at retaining moisture so your loaf will come out light and fluffy instead of dry and dense like when you bake it in an oven or stovetop pan
- you’ll also have less risk of burning your crust than you might if you baked the loaf in the oven on a sheet pan
Can you bake bread in a Dutch oven? Of course, you can read the tips and trips for successful bread baking in a Dutch oven every time.
Baking Sourdough Bread in a Dutch Oven
Baking bread in a Dutch oven is an old-fashioned easy method that many home chefs prefer over the modern way of baking.
The key to this type of cooking is to cover the dough with a heavy tight-fitting lid, creating an airtight seal. This method works well for any type of dough including sweet dough and brioche dough.
If you’re not sure what type of dough recipe you want or have never baked sourdough before, I’d recommend starting off with this simple starter recipe.
You can make delicious sourdough bread at home by following these simple steps!
First, mix together your ingredients – flour, salt, yeast (or starter), and water – then let them ferment for 12-24 hours before shaping them into loaves and letting them rise again for 2-4 hours before baking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes with steam inside the pot during cooking. Your house will smell amazing as this cooks!
Want to give plain bread a go before stepping up to sourdough – check out my easy recipe for quick Dutch oven bread.
Do You Have to Cook Sourdough in a Dutch Oven?
- If you’re passionate about bread and are looking for an easier way to make it, look into investing in a Dutch oven! The dough is so much softer than with other methods I’ve tried.
- If you love homemade bread but find the process too time-consuming or difficult, consider buying yourself a Dutch oven! It makes cooking your own crusty loaves at home ridiculously easy.
How Do You Keep the Bottom of Bread From Burning in a Dutch Oven?
Make your sourdough or artisan bread more delicious by using a baking sheet, cookie tray, or even a pizza stone to prevent the bottom from burning.
The low heat transfer of a baking sheet or cookie tray will help your sourdough and artisan bread not burn. Place either one on the shelf under your Dutch oven, it’s that easy!
What Can I Use Instead of Dutch Oven for Sourdough Bread?
You can substitute a Dutch oven for a clay pot/casserole dish/any large pot that is oven safe. When baking, place a deep roasting pan or stainless steel bowl over the loaf to provide even heat distribution and prevent burning on top of the loaf.
Can I Use a Crockpot Instead of a Dutch Oven?
You can use a crockpot instead of a Dutch oven.
An electric slow cooker like a crockpot cooks for longer at a lower heat – for best results 6/8 hours. With the end result being runnier dishes with a soup-like consistency.
Whereas a Dutch oven cook can cook the same dish for around 2 hours still at low heat. This is because Dutch ovens retain the heat better. Steam does not escape and an automatic self-basting action happens.
Self-basting Dutch oven style leaves you with a rich and thick dish with all the nutrients still in the food because they have not evaporated – away!
Learn more about the difference between two great one-pot cookers Crockpots and Dutch ovens.
What Can I Use if I Don’t Have a Dutch Oven?
The best substitute for a Dutch oven is a large pot with high sides and a lid. Casserole dishes or roasting pans can along with others be used as substitutes to cook your meal. Remember cooking times may vary depending on what pot and heat source you have available.
You can use many different types of cookware instead of a Dutch oven. Learn about some great Dutch oven substitutes.
Quick answers to common questions about Dutch ovens and bread.
Why do you cook bread in a Dutch oven?
The extreme heat that a Dutch oven produces turns the evaporating moisture from the bread dough into steam. The steam allows an extra rise of the dough before the exterior of the dough is sealed.
What is the best method for baking sourdough?
The dough from the sourdough mixture reacts well to a Dutch oven’s steaming capabilities by rising more before the steam seals its exterior. When the lid is removed toward the end of the cooking time the sourdough loaves brown and crust up to perfection.
Should you use parchment paper when baking sourdough bread?
Yes, the parchment paper helps keep your dough stay in shape when lifting it from the work surface and inserting it into the oven. Then when removing the bread helps you avoid scorched hands from the sides hot Dutch oven.
To Finish – Why You Should Cook Sourdough Bread in a Dutch Oven
In a nutshell here is why you should be baking your sourdough bread in a Dutch oven.
- Dutch ovens are able to provide you with a sourdough loaf of bread that could have been baked in a professional baker’s oven.
- The moist heat makes the crust you desire either a little chewy or you can remove the lid toward the end of the cooking time for a crispier browner crust.
- Dough inside a Dutch oven reduces the chances of burning.
- Requires less fussing with bread or sheet pans.
- Makes your favorite recipes even better.
Get yourself a Dutch oven today! You’ll never go back again once you’ve tried it!
If you are looking for a new Dutch oven to bake your homemade bread in. See my article for all you need to know about what Dutch ovens, including sizes, are best for baking bread.
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