By Beatriz Garcia
Yet, Dutch ovens are rarely mentioned but often produce the best baked results.
Conventional Dutch ovens can indeed be a lot of work, but there are some great options to make your life easy and help bake the perfect load.
Read on to find out more.
About Dutch Ovens
Let’s have a brief detour first to find out about Dutch ovens.
History of Dutch Ovens
Cast iron pans have been around for centuries. Yet, the modern Dutch oven came about in the 18th century.
An Englishman, called Abraham Darby, brought Dutch cookware manufacturing techniques from Holland to England in 1704. This gave rise to the term “Dutch” oven.
The first Dutch ovens had a design suitable for coal and fire heating sources. For this reason, they exclusively contained cast iron and featured three legs.
These days, only Dutch ovens meant for campfires have the traditional three legs.
Dutch Ovens Today
Today a “Dutch oven” is a rounded cast iron pot with a flat bottom, sides, and a lid.
They are less commonly used as they have been replaced in many kitchens by stockpots and saucepans.
But they remain loved by those who continue to use them.
Baking Bread with a Dutch oven
A Dutch oven is a large cast iron pot with a heavy lid and many uses.
It’s a versatile pan that can cook, bake or boil, in the oven, on the stove, in the oven, or even over a campfire.
From gumbo to stew, a Dutch oven is always handy.
Yet, for most things, you can use a conventional pot. Dutch ovens genuinely excel when it comes to baking bread.
Why is a Dutch oven so good with bread?
As the dough heats up, it releases steam. At the same time, the air in the dough expands from the warmth.
A Dutch oven has a heavy lid that keeps steam inside, helping to keep the bread moist and the crust soft.
This helps the bread to continue to expand, resulting in a yummy fluffy loaf.
Dutch Oven Shape & Size
Dutch ovens come in many shapes and sizes. You can bake bread effectively in almost any, yet some make life easier.
A wide, shallow Dutch oven, almost like a casserole dish, is especially helpful for bread. It makes it easier to lift the bread straight out of the pot.
You can get both circular and oval Dutch ovens; the shape doesn’t matter. But obviously, the oven will be the shape of your bread, so give a thought to how you want that to turn out.
Finally, when it comes to size, I would suggest a Dutch oven of about 4 – 6 quarts. This leaves plenty of room for a decent loaf of bread.
What’s it made of?
A Dutch oven isn’t a Dutch oven if it’s not made of cast iron. It’s just a pot.
Yet, there are two types of cast iron: bare cast iron and enameled cast iron. Which is best?
Bare cast iron is cheap and extremely durable. What’s the catch? It does need more work in terms of maintenance: You need to season it with oil and carefully hand wash it.
Never leave it damp, or it will, literally, rust. You can actually restore a rusty cast iron Dutch oven. But, guess what? It’s a lot of work!
On the other hand, enameled cast iron is a bit more expensive, and a little more prone to chipping. Yet, it is much easier to manage. No seasoning is needed, and it’s usually easier to clean.
Also, enameled cast iron Dutch ovens can look amazing. (Think Le Creuset or Staub).
oth enameled cast iron and bare cast iron have the key temperature properties of cast iron: They take a long time to heat up, but the surface remains hot. They are also heavy.
Both types of cast iron are used extensively, and which type you use is a personal choice.
Oven Safe Temperature
If you stick with cast iron, the oven-safe temperature doesn’t matter.
Some recipes recommend baking bread at a temperature as high as 260°C (500°F). That’s hot!
But generally, for most loaves of bread, it seems that 220°C (428°F) is enough.
Cast iron (enameled or bare) can cope with this temperature, and much higher. (As long as the Dutch oven doesn’t have any plastic accessories or handles.)
Yet, some of these pots that call themselves Dutch ovens, but don’t use cast iron, might not be able to cope. This is because they are more likely to have plastic handles, or even a non-stick cooking surface, all of which have low temperature limits.
Stick with cast iron.
Buying a Dutch oven
Are you interested enough to be thinking about getting a Dutch oven to bake bread? Want to know which one to get?
Then, you should read the original article here. This will help you find the right Dutch oven for you.
Beatriz Garcia cooking in earnest with my family. She wants to help you cook tasty, nutritious food as easily as possible. Check out her website: ClanKitchen