Today I will let you know the best Dutch oven for baking bread. I will let you know the types of Dutch ovens you can use and the options you have.
After discussing the best Dutch oven for baking bread, I will let you know the benefits of using this method and what you can expect. I will finish by giving you a recipe with an instructional video.
So, where did my love of baking bread in Dutch ovens start…
Many years ago, is the answer but not as I know it now. Growing up as a child, it was normal to watch my mother bake bread on almost a daily basis. I would watch as she poured out the flour and kneaded it into submission before the magic of the rise.
She was so used to it that it was like watching a robot on auto pilot. Every time I make a fresh loaf of bread, the smell takes me right back to my childhood. It’s funny how things can do that to you.
The baking tradition never left me and to this day I bake at least two loafs a week. The healthy ingredients without any chemicals, the taste, the small of freshly baked bread filling your home…it’s magical to me. I simply love it.
As time became more precious, I began making bread in my Dutch oven. This meant that I could make really interesting artisan loaves quite quickly with little fuss. To this day, it is my preferred method so I hope you find the following interesting.
Benefits of using a Dutch oven for baking bread
There are a number of benefits of baking bread in a Dutch oven;
- It’s incredibly simple
- Moist on the inside
- Crusty on the outside with glossy finish
On the face of it, it seems bizarre to bake a loaf on an oven. Anytime you see anybody bake a loaf, it’s in a tin which then goes in the oven. Placing it in a Dutch oven seems a little bizarre at first but stick with me, it really works.
The recipes are really easy and its difficult to get them wrong. The biggest advantage is there is no need to knead. This makes it really attractive as it means less work. Simply mix the ingredients and let it rise while you preheat the oven. It really is that simple.
I will come on to the best Dutch oven for baking bread in a minute but the results are amazing. The steam that is built in the sealed Dutch oven means that your bread remains moist. Steam does not evaporate, it stays within the pot.
The steam acts to keep crust soft for longer, This lets it keep expanding during the early stages of baking so you end up with a wonderful crust at the end. It could look straight out of a magazine, it really is that good.
Types of Dutch oven for baking bread
You essentially get two types of Dutch ovens, both of which are perfectly capable of doing the job. Both need to be constructed from cast iron and must have a lid that fits tightly. The two fall under the following;
Bare cast iron Outdoor Dutch oven
This Dutch oven is as the title suggests, bare. It has no added surface. These Dutch ovens need to be seasoned correctly in order for them to provide a non-stick surface. Often, these are designed for outdoor use but you can also use them in your conventional oven.
Enameled Dutch oven
These Dutch ovens are designed for indoor use. The enamel surface simply protects the bare cast iron and also means that you do not need to season it. Essentially, they are easier to live with than bare cast iron cookware.
If you are using enameled Dutch ovens, you need to be a little more careful. The enamel which is effectively glass, can crack if you try and preheat it empty. You need to ensure that there are contents in there to prevent this. Most people use a couple of inches of water to prevent any damage. Enamel Dutch ovens are not designed to cook dry.
Best Dutch oven for baking bread
Since you can bake bread in either type of Dutch oven, I will provide you with my best picks in both categories.
Enamel Dutch Oven
Lodge Color 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 5-Quart
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5½-Quart Round French Oven
Staub Round Cocotte
Tramontina 6.5-Quart Covered Round Dutch Oven
Outdoor Dutch Oven
Lodge L8DD3 Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven, 5-Quart
Lodge 17L12CO3 Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven, 6 quart
Camp Chef DO10 – 6 Quart Dutch Oven
What is a dutch oven?
For those of you that are new to Dutch oven cooking, you are in for a treat. They will become indispensable to you after a short while. Often referred to as French ovens or Cocotte’s, the sheer variety of tasks you can complete makes them very special. From braising meats to frying donuts, slow cooking stews to…baking bread!
Dutch ovens are made from cast iron and they are complete with tight fitting lids. The lids keep the steam and heat within the pot. The ability of the Dutch ovens to heat evenly means fewer hot spots while cooking thus more even cooking. The heat retention also means you can cook at lower temperatures.
Essentially, they are non-stick either through seasoning or enamel. This makes cleaning up easy and very user friendly. The biggest benefit is the ability of it to be used on a stovetop and the be transferred to an oven. This flexibility is invaluable to some.
What are the benefits of a Dutch oven?
I can summarize the benefits of a Dutch oven as follows;
- They can last for generations if maintained properly
- Moist perfectly cooked food
- Simple to clean and maintain
- One pot cooking, save on cleaning up afterwards
- Cook at high temperatures or low…heat retention is fantastic
- Fewer hot spots in the pan which means even cooking
How to bake bread in your Dutch oven
Baking bread in your Dutch oven is not something you may have heard too much of…but trust me, you will be amazed. The end result is something you might buy in an artisan bread shop. It will look and taste amazing…trust me on that.
I will provide you with the recipe I use, but feel free to look around online, there are plenty of recipes out there. I would also recommend that you experiment when you feel competent enough. Don’t be afraid to add different flavors and seeds, you will be amazed at what you can achieve with very little effort…and skill dare I say. For the right Dutch oven, pay close attention to my recommendation for the best Dutch oven for baking bread above.
No knead Dutch oven bread recipe
- Flour – 4 cups all-purpose
- 1 tsp active dry yeast (1 Packet)
- 1½ tsp sea salt
- 2 cups warm water – circa 110 degrees Fahrenheit
Mix the yeast into the water and leave for 5 minutes. This will result in a light foam on top of the water. This means the yeast has activated. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt by hand and then create a well in the middle. Pour the water yeast mix into the middle.
Wet your hands first to prevent the mix sticking to your fingers. Then mix the dough by hand. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl, if it doesn’t, add small amounts of flour until it does. Once it comes together, cover the dough and leave it for 1 ½ to 2 hours until it doubles in size.
Once it has risen, uncover the dough and poke a few holes in the dough. It should deflate at this point. You then need to fold the dough again, working from the outside into the center. Once you are done, put the cover back on and leave for another 1 ½ to 2 hours.
When the dough doubles in size, it is ready. Lightly flour a surface and remove the dough from the bowl. Start to work the dough onto a ball by folding it several times. To complete the ball, clasp the sides underneath so it is smooth at the top.
Place the ball of dough in a clean bowl that has been coated with olive oil and flour. Cover this and leave for another hour to rise. Meanwhile, we will be preheating the Dutch oven. Preheat the oven to 450˚F/230˚C and put the Dutch oven inside for 45 minutes.
After the hour, remove the Dutch oven carefully and put the dough ball inside it. If it is a cast iron Dutch oven that is NOT enameled, put some parchment paper below. Put the lid on and bake for 45 minutes in total at 450˚F/230˚C. With 15 minutes to go, remove the lid of the Dutch oven. This will result in a lovely golden-brown crust.
After it has finished baking, remove from oven carefully…remember the cast iron is very hot. Remove the bread carefully and let it sit for 10 minutes before you can enjoy cutting and eating.
Choosing a Dutch oven
When you are choosing the best Dutch oven for baking bread, you are faced with an array of options. What you look for will depend on whether you are buying an enameled version or a pure cast iron Dutch oven that requires seasoning.
For further reading on what to consider when buying an enamel Dutch oven, click here
For pure cast iron outdoor Dutch ovens, click here
Let me know what you think is the best Dutch oven for baking bread. If you have tried the recipe above, let me know how it went and whether you made any changes to the recipe. Leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.
If you are here because you were looking for a recommendation on the best Dutch oven for baking bread, I hope this was helpful to you. Let me know which one you chose and why.
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I just bought an enameled cast iron Dutch oven by Henckels. I’ve read that one should never heat up an enameled Dutch oven when it’s empty, as the enamel (which essentially is glass) can crack. Yet your recipe calls for us to heat the Dutch oven while it’s empty. Can you please comment?
Many thanks for your question. It is an important one that needed more detail so i have answered in a detailed post.
You can find it here; http://www.dutchovenscookware.com/can-i-put-an-empty-dutch-oven-in-the-oven/
Thanks Jayne. Since this a new Dutch oven and I’m concerned about placing it in an empty oven to heat, I think I’d better pass on your recipe. Thanks for the long reply though.
Not a problem Shelley. I don’t blame you for erring on the side of caution.
You may want to consider getting a cheap Dutch oven for baking bread such as Lodge, AmazonBasics or Bruntmor.
Alternatively, just a simple cast iron one is just fine.
All the best x
Can I use a whole ceramic pot as a Dutch oven to bake bread?
Of course…i don’t see why not. As long as it has a tight lid, the heat distribution and maximum heat should not be any issue here.
Thank you for leaving a comment…Jayne x
I bought the 3.5 Tramontina Dutch oven, but it states to not preheat it dry, and to not cook above 400 degrees. I really want to use a Dutch Oven, is there a brand that allows dry heating and higher temps?
There are no Dutch ovens that you should use dry heat on especially direct heat. This will damage your Dutch oven beyond repair.
All manufacturers state this. However, i do heat my empty Dutch oven from cold in my oven when i bake no knead bread. I normally put a few drops of water in there so it develops some steam.
In terms of the maximum temperature, it depends on the Dutch oven rather than the brand. I have Le Creuset and Cuisinart, both of which can be heated to 450F.
Hope this helps,
Hi! I am looking to buy a dutch oven specifically for baking bread. I am working on a budget and would like your input.
1.) Is there an “optimal” size for baking sourdough bread in? I see it spreads more than the no knead dough
2.) what is you opinion of the amazon basics enamel cast iron dutch ovens? The price suits my budget!
Hi! Can you make this bread in the 6.5 qt Oval le creuset? Or is that too big and not an ideal size?
Hi…it should be fine!
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