Baking Bread in a Dutch Oven! (see post below for winner of the book giveaway!)

dutch oven bread

Here is yet another way to get a fabulous crust on your bread without using any steam in the oven. I mentioned my very unsophisticated disposable lasagna pan as an option and now I present you with yet another ingenious idea. Baking bread in a Dutch oven was made popular by a Mark Bittman’s article in the New York Times  about baker Jim Lahey. He introduced home bakers to a professional style bread that didn’t require a steam injected oven.  All the iron-pot methods are based on the old European technique of baking inside a closed clay pot. Most people don’t have one of those, but enameled cast-iron pots are readily available—and they trap all of the internal moisture in the dough and that creates the steam you need to get a crisp and shiny crust. It really is fantastic and it works perfectly with our stored doughs from the book.

As you can imagine, the only drawback to baking bread in a dutch oven is that you are limited to a bread that is the shape of your Dutch oven. Luckily, Le Creuset has several shapes to choose from and I’m determined to try them all! The company even sells a special knob that can withstand the 500°F baking temperature of this method. All of these items (including the metal replacement knob) are available in Minneapolis-St. Paul at Cooks of Crocus Hill or nationally through Amazon (which offers a 7 1/4 quart pot, a 6 3/4 quart oval,  a two-quart, and others.  There are other brands, but I have not tried them!

dutchoven

Using a metal replacement knob is really essential to baking with this method, the hard plastic knobs will smoke at 500°F.  Otherwise you’re limited to the maximum temperature recommended by Le Creuset (usually 450 degrees), and the crust won’t get as crisp.

dutchoven

Preheat the pot with the lid on to 500°F for about 20 minutes.  I used a 7 1/4 quart pot to bake a 1 1/2 pound loaf of bread.

dutch oven bread

Shape your boule from any of the non-enriched doughs from the book and allow to rest on a piece of parchment paper as suggested in the recipe. I used the master recipe for this loaf and let it rise for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, because it was larger than normal. I find it easiest to get the dough into the very hot pot if I can drop it in right on the paper.

dutch oven bread

Slash the dough 1/4″ deep.

dutch oven bread

VERY carefully lift the dough and drop it, with paper and all into the preheated pot.  This can be awkward the first time you do it. I took the pot out of the oven and rested it on a cooling rack so that it was at a comfortable height to get the dough in without fear of touching the hot pot! It is very easy, but just be careful! Replace the lid and slip it back into the oven.

dutch oven bread

After 15 minutes of baking remove the lid. The dough only needs to bake in the steam for that amount of time. now it is time to get a lovely caramel color to the bread. Turn the heat down to 450°F and bake for another 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf.

dutch oven bread

Once the loaf is nicely browned, carefully remove it from the pot with a spatula.

dutch oven bread

Peel off the parchment and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

dutch oven bread

Once the bread is totally cool, cut and you can see how fantastic the crumb is! Enjoy!!!



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544 thoughts on “Baking Bread in a Dutch Oven! (see post below for winner of the book giveaway!)

  1. I bought an enamel cast iron pot just for bread baking but it says do not heat up empty
    I see you did heat up the creuset and it seemed fine…should I go for it?

    1. Hi Margot,

      Is it a Le Creuset? If so, I have used mine for this purpose for years. You will want to switch out the knob for a medal one, but otherwise it is fine to use. The interior may discolor slightly, but that doesn’t effect its baking ability.

      Thanks, Zoë

    2. I called Lodge, the maker of my new dutch oven and was told to fill it about halfway with water, preheat and pour the water out when ready to bake.

      1. Hi Adele,

        I’ve never done this and have never heard of anyone else doing it, but the Lodge folks would know best. I will continue to do it without the water, but if you are scared it may somehow ruin your Dutch Oven, then play it safe for sure.

        Thanks, Zoë

    3. I just purchased one as well. Tramontina 7Qt Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven. Mine says the same thing. Not to heat up Empty. I purchased this because I wanted to make this bread and now I’m not sure. It also says that 450deg is the limit heat because anything higher could crack it. I’m not sure now what to do ..

      1. Hi Mary,

        I have baked the bread in my Dutch Ovens for decades with no issues, but they tend to be expensive and if it makes you nervous, then I would choose a different method or one of the brands we have used on the site.

        Thanks, Zoë

    1. I would recommend using the regular cast iron dutch oven over the enameled one if the enamel is light color. The heat will turn the enamel dark brown/grey. It does not hurt the pan it just does not look nice. I purchased a lodge set for ~$30 where the top (lid) can also be used as a skillet. You can also put the loaf in the lid, heat the pan, then put the pan over the loaf and back into the oven.

  2. Hi I just made my big batch of dough last night, it looks really good. First time. I wanted to make a bread in my cast iron dutch oven, it is only 4qt. how much dough should I use and do I change the timing at all?? Love your book, excited about the recipes in it.

  3. You mentioned that the shape of the pot effects the shape of the loaf but does the volume of the pot matter; i.e. 7 quarts vs 4 quart ?

    1. Hi Mimi,

      Do you use an oven thermometer? Was the Dutch oven near the top of your oven? Which recipe are you baking?

      Thanks, Zoë

  4. Hi,
    What will happen if I can’t preheat my creuset? I want to make bread for a dinner and the main course will be in the oven during optimal preheating time. With baking and cooling, I don’t want the main course to sit for too long after it comes out of the oven. I know I could make the bread before but was wondering if it is possible to skip the preheat and go straight into baking?
    Best

  5. Hola from Ecuador
    I have a 4.7 L stainless steel dutch oven. May I have a recommendation for amount of dough and baking requirements. I am looking at the basic boule. Gracias

    1. You should be fine with 1 or 2 pounds of dough, and the directions we give here. Though we’ve never done this in stainless steel, it should work. Much more instructional material in our books.

    1. This is the white flour recipe; that’s part of it. Which recipe are you using (which of our books/which page number?)?

  6. The bottom of my boule keeps coming out burnt using this method. Should I lower the temperature? I preheated my Dutch oven and my oven thermometer was at 500.

  7. I purchased some Reynolds brand parchment paper for this method, but the box says that the paper is safe up to 420 degrees. Is it safe to use this paper or should I find a different brand?

    1. It’s very hard to find papers that are officially rated that high–that’s all I can tell you–at your own risk otherwise.

      1. Jeff,
        I have used the Reynolds, also Wilton brand. It gets quite brown and crispy, but has never caught fire. It does make for some technical issues if you want to lift the baked loaf out by the paper corners, since they get very brittle, but I manage. Did have better paper survival rates with the Wilton brand.
        Hope that helps!

      2. Yep, when I’ve used papers rated below what was called for, same experience. No adverse effect except browning and weakening of the paper.

  8. Thanks for the replies Jeff and Jennifer. What I found online about the issue conforms to your experience Jennifer. There’s a brand called “Regency” that is rated to 450, so it might fare better at the higher temps. There’s another way I’ve seen, which is to sprinkle flour on the work surface, turn out the proofed dough onto it, and then put the dough into the Dutch oven without paper. I get my first Dutch oven tomorrow so I will try both methods.

    1. Ah yes, you don’t have to use parchment, just makes it easier. Cornmeal is the way I used to routinely do it.

      1. I made a long thick strip of foil that hangs over the rim of my dutch oven. I then slip my dough(which is on parchment paper) on the strip. When bread is done, i simply lift it out with my makeshift gadget. Works great

  9. I forgot to add cheese to the dough (basic recipe) can I grate some cheddar and put it on top of the loaf after I take the dutch oven cover off for the final 20 minutes at 450? Thanks

  10. Hello Zoe,

    I baked the master recipe bread from the ‘new’ healthy bread book. I followed the instructions above & just took it out the oven, it looks great! The only problem is the bottom has some burnt spots. What did I do wrong? (I did sprinkle the parchment paper with cornmeal)

    Rosemarie

    1. Hi Rosemary,

      Do you use an oven thermometer in your oven? It may run a bit hot. Did you have the Dutch oven in the center of the oven? You can always turn the temperature down by about 20 degrees next time and see if you like the results better.

      Thanks, Zoë

    1. Hi.

      If you don’t want the loaf to touch the sides, then you want to bake a 1-pound loaf in a 5-quart pot. If you don’t care if it touches the sides (which only effects the shape of the loaf) then you can use a smaller pot.

      Thanks, Zoë

  11. I have a 6.5 qt enamel Lodge dutch oven that I just bought. I have heated it up for 30 minutes at 450 while my dough is rising. Then transferring it to the dutch oven. I’m using parchment paper.I bake it for an additional 10 minutes to make the crust darker, but I noticed the bottom of the loaf is overcooked=dark brown/black. Also, how much can I make in that size container as it is much bigger than the 3 cups recipe. If I double the recipe will it still come out, and how much longer will I need to cook it? Do you have recipes for a larger loaf=cups flour and cooking times anywhere? I also noticed that my dough when I put in my hot water doesn’t look as sticky as the you tube videos. Am I doing something wrong? Wasn’t sure how hot to make the hot water. Our hottest water is about 110 or thereabouts. I have an instapot that is much hotter. I don’t want to kill the yeast, but I also want to make sure to activate it. I’ve only let it rest for 5 hours. I will try overnight and see if that makes a difference. Some people say it doesn’t matter. Thanks. Robin

    1. Hi Robin,

      Here is a post on making a larger loaf from the dough: https://artisanbreadinfive.com/2012/03/20/how-to-make-a-2-pound-loaf/

      I’m not sure I understand when you are adding hot water? The only time you use hot water is when you are creating steam in the oven, but you don’t need that with a Dutch Oven. To make the actual dough you’d never want to use hot water or you may kill the yeast. Warm water is used for mixing the dough.

      Thanks, Zoë

  12. Hi, my bread seems to burn on the bottom in my Creuset on parchment paper baking at 450 or even 425…..for 35 min… is there a way to avoid this. Could you cut a silicone baking pad..to fit the bottom of the pot. Might help?

    1. Before that–check your oven temp with something like http://ow.ly/8CVPU
      If it’s not that the oven’s too hot, try a higher shelf so the bottom aspect of the Dutch oven’s further from the heat source.

      If those both don’t help, your approach might also be something worth trying (though you’ll sacrifice a silicone baking pad in the experiment).

  13. Le Creuset (which you have in the photo) state in the hand book that the casserole dish should never be used dry on the hob or in the oven. Doing so will damage the non stick liner and or the ceramic glaze. . Yes, that Casserole dish is non stick. They was there must be something inside on the bottom even if it a little oil. Also never to heat it above 220 deg C.

    A cast iron dutch pot is best for this.

    Cheers

    Kevin

    1. We’ve been using Le Creuset for a long time this way, with no ill effects, but if you’re really concerned, do avoid using the enameled pot for this purpose.

  14. Hi, I’m using the healthy master recipe in an Emile Henry Dutch oven that’s loaf sized – can I let it proof in the loaf pan to make sure it fits? My thinking is that I’ll take it out (on parchment) when it’s time to preheat.

    1. Hi Jennifer, is the pan an actual loaf shape with a lid or a Dutch oven that is just smaller? If it is loaf shape you can just bake it in that without taking it out to preheat. I’m afraid the loaf may lose some of its rise if you move it around that much before baking.

      Thanks, Zoë

  15. So, what is the total rise time? In the master recipe I let it rise as it’s written 2 hrs at room temp. The. Another 1 hr and 20 min on the parchment paper? Thanks!

    1. Hi Megan,

      Yes, that sounds about right depending on the size of the loaf and if the dough is chilled. If you are using dough that is not chilled yet, it is half that amount of time once you shape the loaf and set it on the parchment. If this is your first time baking the bread, I recommend shaping it once it is chilled, because it is easier to handle, but that does mean a longer second rise.

      Hope that helps! Zoë

  16. How would I do this with the gluten free master recipe? I checked the index in the back of the book for Dutch oven and didn’t see it in there.

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