Making bread in a Dutch oven is a popular baking technique that has been used for generations. But can your Dutch oven be too big for baking bread? The answer is yes, and understanding why is essential to getting the perfect loaf every time.
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Here is a great video on how to make three versions of easy rustic bread using one simple dough, by Brian Lagerstrom.
1 DOUGH 3 LOAVES | The Easiest (Actually Good) Bread You Can Make
****TO MY FRIENDS IN EUROPE/UK: The all purpose flour that i typically use is King Arthur which is about 11.7% protein. Your All Purpose flour may be different than what's available in the US. If in doubt, choose a flour that has between 11-12% protein and you should be in good shape! ALSO if you have never made bread before, this dough is 78% hydration and will be slightly sicky. Use 75 less grams water in the final dough and it will be much easier to handle.
150g or ROUGHLY 1 C. AP FLOUR
150g or ROUGHLY 2/3C. WATER (ROOM TEMP)
1 small pinch YEAST - let the poolish ripen on counter 4-24 hours, preferably at least 16
280g or 1 1/4C.WATER (98F)
2g or 1/2 TSP YEAST
ALL OF THE POOLISH
350g or 2 1/4 C. AP FLOUR
50g or ROUGHLY 1/3 C. WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR
10g or roughly 1.5 TSP KOSHER SALT
BAKING TIMES/ TEMPS
METHOD 1: 525 the whole time for 14-18 minutes (spray loaf for steam)
METHOD 2- Preheat Dutch Oven at 500 for 30-40 minutes, bake at 500 covered for 12min and 485 uncovered for additional 8-12 depending on oven and desired color.
METHOD 3: Preheat Dutch Oven at 485-500 for 30-40 minutes, bake at 485 covered for 18 minutes, and 485 uncovered for additional 25-30 depending on oven and desired color.
The Pros and Cons of Large Dutch Ovens
When it comes to making bread, using a large Dutch oven can have both advantages and disadvantages.
On the plus side, larger Dutch ovens provide more even heat distribution and greater capacity. This means you can bake two loaves at once, which means more delicious bread in less time!
The downside, however, is that the size of your Dutch oven could negatively impact the texture of your loaf.
When it comes to baking bread in a Dutch oven, size really does matter. If your Dutch oven is too large—that is, if it’s significantly bigger than the size of the dough—it may not be able to trap enough steam during baking.
This lack of steam will prevent your dough from rising properly, resulting in a dense, heavy loaf with an unappealing texture. Additionally, larger pots may also cause the crust to become overly hard or burn before the interior is fully cooked.
Finding the Right Size for Your Bread
So what’s the solution? To ensure perfect results every time, make sure you select a Dutch oven whose diameter matches or slightly exceeds that of your dough ball.
A good rule of thumb is to choose a pot that’s 1-2 inches larger than your dough ball; this will allow plenty of room for steam without sacrificing texture or flavor.
If you want to bake multiple loaves at once, opt for two smaller pots instead of one gargantuan one—this will help ensure even heat distribution and perfectly cooked loaves every time.
There really is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing the perfect size Dutch oven for your bread baking needs; it all depends on how much dough you are planning on baking at once.
Generally speaking, however, most people find that 4 or 5 quart sized pots work best for baking one regular-sized loaf of bread - anything bigger than that will likely be too large and result in an uneven cook time.
For larger loaves of bread (such as those made with multiple pounds of dough), 6 or 7 quart pots prove to be ideal.
Type of Dutch Oven
Keep in mind that not all Dutch ovens are created equal; some are more effective at conducting heat than others which can affect how quickly your bread bakes and how even its texture turns out.
If possible, opt for one made from cast iron or ceramic as they tend to provide better heat distribution throughout your dough than their aluminum counterparts do.
Baking bread in a large Dutch oven certainly has its benefits; however if not done carefully it can also lead to tough crusts and dry interiors.
To get great results every time make sure you select a pot whose diameter matches or slightly exceeds that of your dough ball—this will help create air pockets needed for trapping steam while still allowing room for expansion as your dough rises.
Make sure you have a Dutch oven made from ceramic or cast iron for better heat distribution, and one that is 4 to 5 quarts in size, for one loaf, or 6 to 7 quarts in size for larger loaves.
With just this small tweak you can enjoy delicious homemade bread any day of the week!
Check out our top picks for the best Dutch oven for bread!