Best Dutch Ovens For Baking Bread
My recommendation for Dutch ovens for making the best Dutch oven bread is based upon the Dutch ovens I use personally or would consider using in the future. Various sizes of cast-iron ovens in seasoned bare cast iron and enamel finish something for everyone outdoors and in the kitchen.
For my Dutch oven bread made in the kitchen, Le Creuset Dutch ovens like their most popular French oven the Le Creuset Signature 5.5-quart Dutch oven, a Lodge Dutch Oven the one I own is a Lodge double Dutch oven, a small Staub Cocotte, and the best option for any campfire a large Camp Chef Camp Dutch oven with legs.
There are different types of Dutch ovens including an oval shape that is perfect for bread baking, lets check them out and find one for your cooking needs.
Results Of The Challenger Breadware Pan Vs Lodge 5qt Dutch Oven
Heres a photo of both breads when they came out of the oven
As you can see from the pictures above, the results are very similar, but you can see that the the Challenger bread pan produced a slightly taller, more open crumb loaf. I suspect this was due to the shape of the pan over the loaf being able to retain more heat in the right places to produce the taller shape.
So, if youre wondering if paying extra for this specific bread pan is going to give you better bread results, the answer is yes! The Challenger bread pan was able to retain steam for longer than the Lodge, making the bread grow for a little longer in the oven, hence giving a better results.
Whats more, is that due to the extra space you have, there is also an option to add some ice cubes into the pan when you place it in the oven , but this would give you an even better result.
But lets take a look at some of the other features that both vessels offer ti get a better comparison
What Is The Best Size Dutch Oven For Baking Bread
The best size Dutch oven for baking bread is a 5 to 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven.
All my standard bread, no-knead bread, and sourdough recipes have enough room for the steam to circulate efficiently and the loaves expand outwards and rise up without sticking to the sides of the lid of the Dutch oven.
My 5-quart Lodge seasoned double Dutch oven with a flat, not domed lid, always has plenty of room for loaves to expand and rise.
A larger Dutch oven will provide room for larger loaves, oval or different shaped loaves other than round, and bread rolls.
When choosing a larger Dutch oven consider the weight when laden and the inefficiency if you are cooking standard-sized loaves of bread only.
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The Best Dutch Oven For Baking Sourdough Bread
Sourdough bread baking has gotten hugely popular in the past year. But getting great results can be tricky, because sourdough needs some coaxing to bring out its best qualities. One fail-proof trick is to use a Dutch oven–but what’s the best Dutch oven for baking sourdough bread? And what makes it the best?
Here, we’ll take a look at the best Dutch ovens for sourdough bread. Find out what makes a Dutch oven great for bread–even if it’s not necessarily the best choice for other cooking tasks.
Best Bread Cloche: My 5 Reviews
What makes a bread cloche so awesome?
The major advantage this type of bakeware offers is that it can take things to professional levels. We can bake loaves that are compared in taste, crust, and crumb to what bakeries are capable of baking. Only that well do that in our non-professional kitchen.
Moreover, a bread cloche can also serve as a perfectly fancy gift for bread bakers.
The other bakeware that can help us imitate the conditions of a professional bakery is a Dutch oven for bread. There are a few differences between a cloche and a Dutch oven. Ill make a comparison between the two, a bit later on.
Well first review the original bread cloche, which is manufactured by Emile Henry. These are made in France and they have the classic low base with a very tall dome.
However, Ill also introduce other models, including a Lodge cast iron Dutch oven, which is a very cheap alternative to the cloche. The loaves baked are of the same quality and thats what matters. Plus, you can use a Dutch oven to cook so many dishes. Its capable of so much more than baking bread.
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How To Choose The Best Dutch Oven For Baking Bread
The first step is choosing what type of Dutch oven suits your needs. Cast iron Dutch ovens are the best for the high temperatures and heat/steam retention required to get the best loaf of bread.
There are two types of Dutch ovens seasoned cast iron which historytells us have been in production for thousands of years and enameled coated Dutch ovens that are coming up to 100 years in production.
Quart Lodge Combo Cooker
My favorite Dutch oven is the Lodge 3.2 quart cast iron combo cooker. I’ve been using the same combo cooker since I started baking bread so many years ago and it still looks like new.
This pot is extremely versatile and I also use it for a myriad of other tasks in the kitchen in addition to baking bread. I frequently use it to make the wonderful Tartine French toast, crispy-bottomed sourdough cinnamon rolls, and the deep end makes a mean roast chicken.
I’ve been able to fit bread dough sizes from 500g to 900g comfortably in the pot. As with all cast iron, keep it seasoned and it’ll likely last a lifetime.
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Bread Cloche Vs Dutch Oven: Which Is Best For Baking
Bread is something that you can fill your tummy up with pretty easily, regardless of the taste and texture. However, the difference between an amazing piece of bread and okay bread is pretty significant. And nailing that amazing factor is not that easy!
Apart from just getting the ingredients right, you will need to get the correct cooking utensils to cook delicious meals. And when it comes to choosing the right utensil, bread cloche vs dutch oven thoughts are pretty common. These two cookwares are the go-to options for many looking to bake.
Now, the question that stands is which one of them should be your go-to pick. That is what we plan to unravel in this guide!
Loafnest Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Is this my favorite of my recommendations for the best Dutch oven for bread? Not really. Let me tell why.
I totally agree with what some users say: its a great pot but its a bit too expensive. Yes, the price is not something that makes me scream of joy. I also think that its just too pricey for what it offers.
When you can get a cheap Lodge that its 4 times cheaper, I guess you can understand why my enthusiasm is not at top levels. Well, some people do love it so, who am I to stand in the why? Lets review it and you can form your own opinion.
I just wanted to point another thing out. Only the liner is made in France. The actual pot and the lid are made in China. And its actually designed in the Netherlands. So many countries and 2 continents for making just a Dutch oven.
The color is definitely vibrant. The blue pops up in any kitchen but it can also fit in quite beautifully.
The liner, which is the actual part made in France, is just a replacement for a parchment paper. It can last at least for 1000 uses and with proper care will last 2000-3000 uses.
The liner prevents the loaf from sticking to the pot. And you can easily remove it with the liner when its time to place it on the cooling rack.
What kind of makes this LoafNest model stand out from the others is the fact that it has an oval shape.
What I like
It can be preheated empty with the lid on. I like that.
It also promises to bake a crunchy crust and a soft air crump.
Where to Buy?
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Emile Henry Bread Pot/potato Pot
Another very interesting alternative to a cloche comes from the same manufacturer, Emile Henry.
This time we have a pot that can be described as the perfect hybrid between a cloche and a Dutch oven.
It has a taller base, like a pot. But it doesnt have the same flat lid. The lid is actually a second base and it creates the needed steam for exceptional baking.
This combination leads to a unique, spherical pot that is shaped perfectly for artisan breads and for making extra-crispy potatoes.
The pot can even be flipped while cooking for extra-crispy potatoes. It can be flipped because the base and the dome are identical.
Its made from Flame ceramic. Its highly resistant. You can use it on the stovetop, on the grill or in the oven.
The ceramic has a glaze that makes it resistant to scratches but it also makes it nonstick. You dont need to use parchment paper or to sprinkle flour unless you want to. Even when the dough is baked directly on the surface, it wont stick.
Moreover, and this is very important, it can be preheated empty without any risk of cracking.
Is it absolutely amazing? It is, no doubt about that whatsoever. You might bake the best loaves that youve ever tasted. But that capability doesnt come cheap. Just like the above cloche from Emile Henry, their bread/potato pot is expensive.
If someone where to make me choose between the best bread cloche that I reviewed above and this pot, I would be in an impasse. I just love them both equally.
Where to Buy?
Quart Staub Oval Cocotte
|Cast iron and enamel
The round shape of most Dutch ovens makes baking an oval loaf almost impossible. However, the Staub 5.75 quart Cocotte is oval-shaped and has the same properties as the Lodge . This pot is a workhorse here in my kitchen, and I’ve made countless loaves and meals in it, yet it still looks the same as the day I bought it.
Note that it might be best to preheat this pot at a lower temperature of 450°F , or skip the preheat of the pot entirely , if you’re worried the external enamel might crack.
This pot is larger than the Lodge, above, and I’ve been able to fit oval loaves weighing up to 1000g without issue.
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A Deeply Colored Shiny Crust
There’s little as elegant as a crust that’s well-colored with a gradient from almost-white to a deep mahagony the contrast is striking. Add to this a subtle catch of light and shininess: your mouth starts watering even before the intoxicating smell hits you.
As we discussed earlier, steam inside the closed environment of the Dutch oven settles on the outside of the dough, forming a thin layer that prevents the temperature from reaching too high too fast. This helps you ensure the exterior of your loaf doesn’t darken before you finish baking the interior.
Additionally, as Jeffrey Hamelman states in his book BREAD, the reduced temperature on the exterior of the loaf allows the enzymatic activity to continue for longer. This activity, which is the same activity that’s been happening throughout the entire fermentation process, continues to unlock sugars which add to crust coloring during baking.
A well-steamed oven also promotes gelatinization2: in the presence of heat starch molecules on the exterior of the dough begin to absorb available moisture , start to swell, and eventually pop to form a thin liquid layer . This layer finally bakes hard and becomes a thin and crispy exterior with a subtle shine.
With all these benefits it seems like baking in a sealed pot is a no brainer. However, there are some issues with the method, the biggest being a thicker, and possibly burned bottom. Let’s take a look at a few ways to help mitigate this issue.
Le Creuset Covered Casserole Dish
I purchased a Le Creuset oval casserole dish before I owned the Challenger Bread pan. I wanted to be able to bake batards and this was the pan I landed on for this.
This is a much more affodable option to owning a Le Creuset than their dutch ovens are. The covered casserole dishes are about $115 and can be used both for bread baking and for things like baked dishes.
This is a great option if you prefer baking batards rather than boules.
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Straight To The Point
Le Creuset recently launched a fancy, enameled cast-iron, bread ovena pot specifically designed for baking crisp, crusty loaves of bread. I tested it out to find out whether it’s worth the nearly $300 sticker price. But, first, some background.
By now, most people who make bread at home already know that baking a rustic loaf is best done in a heavy, covered Dutch oven-style pot. Baking under a cloche is as old as the hills, but it was popularized in recent years by Jim Lahey and Mark Bittmans 2006 New York Times no-knead bread recipe and Chad Robertsons 2010 book, Tartine Bread.
For those unfamiliar with the baking method, heres why it works so well: Lean breadsmeaning those without a large amount of fat from eggs, butter, or oil in themneed to be surrounded by steam for the first half or so of the bake for best results. The steam serves to promote good oven spring for a tall, open-crumbed loaf, and to produce a thin-shelled and shiny crust. After a while, the steam is removed in order to let the crust brown and crisp up.
Enter the Dutch oven. Instead of baking the bread in the open, you preheat the empty pot and lid in the oven, add the loaf, cover it, and return it to the oven. After half an hour or so, you remove the lid and continue baking the bread until it is sufficiently browned.
Best Dutch Oven For Bread Reviews
Shopping for the best Dutch oven for bread is truly worth it because this pot manages to do one essential thing. It emulates the baking environment in a professional bakery.
In a professional setting, the steam and the intense temperatures enable an even cooking, a perfectly risen bread, with the perfect crust, with a deep shiny color.
I love the fact that even those without much experience can use a Dutch oven for baking bread and get excellent results. Youll see what I mean about that. Most of all, I love the versatility of this pot with a lid.
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Combekk Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Combekk Enameled 6.3-Quart Cast Iron Dutch OvenSEE CURRENT PRICE
This Dutch oven is made in the Netherlands from recycled railway sleepers.
At 6.3-quarts it falls into the range for the best size Dutch oven for baking bread. It is solidly built and can be used on all cooking surfaces including induction.
Available in 3 sizes and 2 colors, with or without the thermometer. Even heat retention on all stovetops, unfortunately, the layered enamel coating doesnt suit the campfire setting.
The unique built-in thermometer actually works, yes there was skepticism out there regarding this feature.
See one happy customers successful bread baking attempt in their new Combekk Dutch oven, all that was needed was a little cornmeal sprinkled on the base to stop the bread from sticking.
See my in-depth review of Combekk Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven 5 Quart Perfect Bread Cloche Substitute
If youre just interested in finding the best bread cloche, just focus on what I recommended above.
However, if you want a cheaper substitute, check out this Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 5 quart.
I think you can be surprised in a very good way. Its always nice to talk about the complex world of bread baking methods. This is a good opportunity and Im going to grab it with both hands.
Versatile & durable
The Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven is just so great, so versatile, so durable. Those are a lot of attributes that can win over a lot of people or at the very least make them quite curious.
First of all, this Dutch oven is made of cast iron, which makes it very durable.
It can also be preheated empty with the lid on without a risk of cracking. Not the same assurances can be offered to other Dutch ovens that are made of enamel.
It can be used for making absolutely all kinds of recipes from breads to stews to stakes. This is the kind of model for which Dutch oven cookbooks are perfect for.
The 5 quart is size is just really nice, too. Not incredibly big but still big enough for small and large families alike.
The other impressive feature is that the lid can be used as a 10 inch cast iron skillet. It doesnt get any better than this.
The whole pot, including the lid, can be used in the oven, on the stove, on the grill or over a campfire.
Given all that, dont you think that the Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven 5 Quart can be the perfect bread cloche substitute?
Where to Buy?
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