Dutch Oven Recommendations for Sourdough Bread

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thirdeye

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Mrs ~t~ has been baking more bread this year both for us and friends, and she recently got back into sourdough. So far.... the loaves are getting good rise, the crust is thin and crispy, and texture is really airy, but the problem is, we have a 9 or 10 quart Dutch oven (which seems too large) and a 6.5 quart model which is enamel coated. We are reading that enamel is not recommended when preheating dry. So, it sounds like the logical move is to buy a non-enamel Dutch oven in the 6 to 8 quart range but I'm looking for some practical 'baker tips' on sizes, and we want to keep the preheating dry option on the table.
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thirdeye

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This is the one I use for bread: Amazon.com: Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven With Loop Handles, 5 qt: Cast Iron Dutch Oven: Kitchen & Dining
I like it because I can put the bread on the lid and place the inverted bottom over it - makes it easier to score.

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What a good idea, and your loaf is preformed first, right?

Mrs ~t~ has wet sourdough that is moved onto parchment paper, and then goes into the bottom of the Dutch oven with the lid on. After a few minutes the lid is removed and the bread finishes baking.
 
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bregent

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What a good idea, and your loaf is preformed first, right?

Mrs ~t~ has wet sourdough that is moved onto parchment paper, and then goes into the bottom of the Dutch oven with the lid on. After a few minutes the lid is removed and the bread finishes baking.

Yes, those were pre- shaped and proofed in a banneton. But I've also used it for no knead bread. If you are going into a pre-heated dutch oven, there's no need for parchment paper - it will not stick. When I was making no-knead I scraped it from the bowl with a rubber spatula straight into the dutch oven:

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bregent

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That is all I use. Love them. Straight from the fridge into oven with hot water poured on sheet pan

Brian, have you tried covering those pans with something for the first 15 minutes? Residential ovens are vented, so the steam you generate is quickly lost and you can't reach the saturation levels needed for a crust that is like that of a commercial bread oven. I tried the sheet pan and various other methods for years, but baking in a Dutch oven was a complete game changer.
 

BrianGSDTexoma

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Brian, have you tried covering those pans with something for the first 15 minutes? Residential ovens are vented, so the steam you generate is quickly lost and you can't reach the saturation levels needed for a crust that is like that of a commercial bread oven. I tried the sheet pan and various other methods for years, but baking in a Dutch oven was a complete game changer.
No. I pretty happy with this. I get good oven spring. These could be a little darker. I preheat 500 for hour, than pour boiling water and put dough in and turn down to 470 for 20 min than 450 for 20.

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sandyut

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bregent bregent hey mine don't ever get that dark. I am using straight white flour. cooking in the same Dutch oven at 450 not preheated. I tried both preheated and not preheated and saw no difference. I cook for 45-50 minutes and then remove the lid till brown, but they are more golden. Any thoughts on why not darker like yours?
 

oldsmokerdude

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I guess I'm a little different. I do use a ceramic "cloche" designed for baking bread. This is a picture of one from King Arthur's web site that I use but mine looks, well, lot more used. I've made near 100 loaves in it with no issues.
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The downside to this that I see is that it is a single use item, the only thing it does is bake bread, unlike a Dutch oven with multiple uses. The results are good. I sometimes use a pan of water and multiple sprays of water on the oven walls when I have multiple loaves to bake, but this gives superior results when I'm baking one loaf at a time.
 
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sandyut

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I havent read about adding a water pan until this thread... is that common practice?.
 

bregent

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bregent bregent hey mine don't ever get that dark. I am using straight white flour. cooking in the same Dutch oven at 450 not preheated. I tried both preheated and not preheated and saw no difference. I cook for 45-50 minutes and then remove the lid till brown, but they are more golden. Any thoughts on why not darker like yours?

I go about 15-20 minutes and then remove the lid. Keeping it on longer will result in lighter color. That's most likely the biggest difference.
 

sandyut

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I go about 15-20 minutes and then remove the lid. Keeping it on longer will result in lighter color. That's most likely the biggest difference.
I see! thanks, I making a green olive loaf today - as in baking today. ill try a different timeline.
 

bregent

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I havent read about adding a water pan until this thread... is that common practice?.

It's pretty common and not very effective. Folks have tried all sorts of ways to increase the humidity in the oven - wet towels, ice cubes, spray misters, etc. I tried them all and could not detect much if any difference compared to doing nothing at all. Ovens are vented so any moisture you produce inside will exit quickly. That's why using a covered Dutch oven or cloche works best - the moisture is trapped inside.
 

bregent

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I see! thanks, I making a green olive loaf today - as in baking today. ill try a different timeline.

Cool. Post the results so we can see what difference it makes. Also forgot to mention that I do pre-heat. I've seen lots of folks that get great results starting cold, but I never seem to get as good spring if I don't pre-heat first.

I know some folks that will preheat just the dome (the deep part of the combo cooker) so that they can dump the dough into the cool shallow lid without worrying about getting burned.
 
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617Smoker

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Here's a blog post from the guy that used to do bread for America's Test Kitchen on dutch ovens and dutch oven workarounds -- probably more than you want to know, but interesting. https://wordloaf.substack.com/p/dut...ampaign=post&utm_medium=email&utm_source=copy
The bread books I've seen all recommend the Lodge cast iron combo cooker as mentioned in the thread above. I read somewhere that the bread coming out of a combo cooker or similar dutch oven is as good as what a professional bread oven with steam will do.
 
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thirdeye

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Here's a blog post from the guy that used to do bread for America's Test Kitchen on dutch ovens and dutch oven workarounds -- probably more than you want to know, but interesting. https://wordloaf.substack.com/p/dut...ampaign=post&utm_medium=email&utm_source=copy
The bread books I've seen all recommend the Lodge cast iron combo cooker as mentioned in the thread above. I read somewhere that the bread coming out of a combo cooker or similar dutch oven is as good as what a professional bread oven with steam will do.
That linked article is excellent 👍
 
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