Using a Cast Iron Dutch Oven

The Best Bread You’ve Ever Had

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Why on earth would you want to go back in time and use such a heavy, bulky thing like a cast iron dutch oven…I can just hear you asking me now. There are a million reasons! Some you might already know! For instance, you’ve probably heard that the heat is more even when using cast iron. But the uses and benefits don’t stop with even heating; I can assure you! I’m not going to go into all the benefits right now, there’s more on that another time. I’m here to focus in on something that you are bound to love.

Dutch ovens are pretty cool, but a cast iron dutch oven will complete your kitchen. Want to make soup? Dutch oven. Want to make a roast? Dutch oven. Want to make BREAD?! Duh, dutch oven! What? Yes. You haven’t eaten bread until you’ve eaten bread from a cast iron dutch oven. Some of my CSA customers have heard the whispers of bread next season. The rumors are true. Bread may very well be slated to go on the docket for 2020’s CSA!

But I’m not going to keep the awesomeness of bread baked in a dutch oven to myself or prevent you from learning the secret either! If you want to have a go at it, it’s pretty simple. Bread only really needs four things: Wheat, water, yeast, salt. I’ll leave finding the perfect recipe up to you, but I’ll tell you how to make that recipe absolutely perfect by baking that delectable loaf of bread in a dutch oven.

First though, you might need a dutch oven. This one has shown itself to truly be up to the challenge. It’ll help you to create the best loaves of bread you have ever had the chance to butter up!

So, now I’m sure you’re hoping I just get around to telling you the tips and tricks to getting that loaf absolutely perfect. Okay, okay, it’s really not that difficult. First, follow your recipe and come back when your loaf has risen. Ready for the next step? Get that dutch oven preheating! Most vessels made for the oven aren’t built to be heated empty. The cast iron dutch oven can withstand this pressure without cracking, so don’t use just any oven safe pot. The preheating is the most important step, I promise! Why? How?

It’s all in the steam. The dutch oven provides the perfect chamber to capture all that moisture contained inside your raw dough. But it has to be fully heated and up to temperature before you gently plop that dough into the dutch oven. You see, your conventional oven lets all that steam float around the oven and away from the loaf of bread. As your baking dough expands, the crust is already becoming hard, preventing your bread from being the delicious, crusty loaf it was meant to be! By using a dutch oven inside your actual oven, it contains all the moisture from within the loaf, keeping the crust malleable and soft as the loaf expands.

That’s not the end of the story, though. Let’s get into a little bread dough science. That humidity inside the dutch oven goes up and out of the dough, right? This cast iron dutch oven is designed with little dimples on the lid. These dimples cause the steam to fall back onto the dough. Liquid water is cooler than water vapor, which cools the crust. This causes something really neat (and tasty)! The water droplets give the bread time for the yeast enzymes to keep working their magic in turning starches into sugars. Your bread then ends up with a crusty exterior, and an insanely soft interior.

Now that you’re bread is baked, I’m sure reading the rest of this is pretty much out of your thoughts. But if you haven’t even gotten a dutch oven, just rest assured that bread will be getting tested all winter to prepare the best loaves for your CSA share in 2020.


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