Tips and Tricks for Making Dutch Oven Bread
I have been making dutch oven bread for just over a year now. It still blows me away every time I take it out of the oven. I'm new to the bread making world but every loaf looks so amazing. The method is so easy that I feel guilty for taking full credit for it. But is it really that easy?
After several loaves of bread, I started to get lazy and I looked for shortcuts. Lol. It's a 5 minute recipe but I wanted it to be simpler. But seriously, here is the thing. I didn't like the fact that I was wasting so much parchment paper, I didn't like the mess, and sometimes I didn't even want to wait until the oven was 425 F. When I got lazy, I messed up here and there. A few times I even had problems with my bread not rising properly. The worst was when the resulting bread got stuck inside my dutch oven. I even scratched my new dutch oven a bit from removing the bread :( So sad. The bread still tasted great but it annoyed me!
My bread posts have actually become a few of my most popular posts on this blog. Today, I want to share a few tips and tricks I have learned since I first started making bread over a year ago. I love making tasty food but not if it means wasting time and making a mess. I like to get things done as quickly and effectively as possible and with only a minimal amount of mess. I tend to use very few kitchen supplies as well because I don't like to do the dishes. Lol. But that really falls under making a "minimal amount of mess." I'm as conservative as they get in the kitchen!
The following is my list of shortcuts and tips for making dutch oven bread.
- Use a big pot! Forget the parchment paper and towel. Contain the dough in a big pot and save yourself paper and a big mess. The lid of the pot covers the whole thing very well. When it comes time to dump the dough into the hot dutch oven, it all slides out nicely.
- Make sure to preheat both oven and dutch oven to 425F. If you don't and you get lazy like me and dump the dough in too early, the bread will get stuck inside your dutch oven. Trust me, it's a pain to remove the bread in one piece when it's done. I have learned that if the dutch oven is super hot, the dough starts to cook immediately once you put it in there and that's what you need. I actually thought my pots were getting old and used but when I started to heat my dutch oven more, the bread just slides out without a mess each time. Thank goodness!
- Leave the bread inside the dutch oven when done for at least 20 minutes. This helps to gradually cool down and steam it a bit, which makes it easier to slide out later.
- Check the expiry date of your yeast. When we moved over to Washington State, I thought the change of environment was the cause of my dough not rising. Apparently, my yeast was just getting old. When I left it out longer, it rose a bit more but it was definitely odd. It turned out that my yeast was nearing its expiry date. I got new yeast and everything was back to normal :)
- Add a bit of sugar if you want to "toast" your bread. A lot of people wonder why it's so hard to toast dutch oven bread. My husband has to toast it multiple times to give it the "toast bread" look. There is no sugar in white dutch oven bread and apparently you need sugar and heat to toast. When I added just 1/2 tbsp of sugar in the recipe, toasting improved. I might even try 1 tbsp next time. The idea is to add enough to help toasting along but not too much that you would actually taste sweet bread.
- Store bread in a plastic bag. Once the bread is at room temperature, store it in a plastic bag and seal it. You can leave it out at room temperature for 4-5 days. The bread will keep soft and fresh in the plastic bag. If there is bread left after 5 days, I would move the leftovers to the fridge. It will go moldy if you leave it at room temperature for too long.
|What it looks like 18 hours later.
|Flour it well and cover again for 1-2 hours.
|See? I got most of it out and not a big mess at all :)
|Bread cleanly slides out. Dutch oven barely needs a wash.
|Back of the bread.
|Toasted just once.
The dutch ovens I use are Le Creuset Stoneware Covered Square Casserole (Cherry Red) (the 5 or 6 qt. version) and Martha Stewart Enameled Cast Iron 6 qt. Round Casserole and they are both very good. I can only speak from my experience with these dutch ovens. Below is the revised dutch oven bread recipe and instructions I now use.
Dutch Oven Artisan Bread
(Adapted from Frugal Living NW)
6 cups of all purpose flour
3 tbsp wheat gluten
1 tbsp salt
1/2 to 1 tbsp white sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp active dry yeast + 2 tbsp warm water
3 cup cold water
1/3 cup flour for forming into a ball later
Add the yeast to the luke warm water and let it sit in a cup. Measure and combine the flour, gluten, salt, and sugar in a big pot. I use my 8 quart pot. Add the cold water. Stir the yeast mixture a bit and then add the yeast to the large bowl as well. Using a big wooden spoon, just mix it all up until all the flour is incorporated. If you don't mix well, you could end up with pockets of dry flour inside the dough. That's it! Now cover with the pot lid and let it sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
Use the 1/3 cup of flour or more to flour your hands and the dough so that it doesn't stick too much to the pot. Let this sit for 1-2 hours so it can double in size.
Preheat oven to 425 F with your 6 quart dutch oven inside. When the temperature is reached, remove the dutch oven and quickly dump the dough inside. If you floured the dough enough, this should slide out pretty easily right into the dutch oven. Sprinkle the top a bit with some flour and cover. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake for 10 minutes. Take out the bread and let it cool for about 20-25 minutes. Remove the bread and let it cool further on a cooling rack.