Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dutch Oven Bread


I have for years  made homemade bread. It's one of the most satisfying things to bake I think. And yet I have tried and tried to make bread that will have a nice crust and soft and moist inside. But that crispy outside crust is very difficult to achieve because of todays ovens. I've tried pans of steaming water, spray bottles of water while baking and various other methods but they just don't work that well. One reason is, that no matter how much steam you might be able to produce, today's ovens vent it, so it just kinda waves at your bread as it exits the oven. The fact of the matter is, that professional baking ovens, I understand, have steam injection systems into a closed oven, with allows the crust to be moistened by steam while beginning to bake, which is what creates the crust I'm talking about. (The moistness of the steam keeps the outside of the loaf from setting immediately as it does in a hot dry oven, which also helps with it's rising during baking, who knew?)

10 days ago I bought a Dutch Oven, plain cast iron, because I've always wanted to Braise meat in a long cooking process in the oven. Yes, I have a slow cooker, yes I have a pressure cooker, but I'm a foodie. We simply HAVE to try all kinds of cooking methods, don't we?

Anyway, apparently when you bake bread in a covered dutch oven, it "steams" inside the pot and therefore yields the kind of crust and texture we are all looking for. I tell ya, I opened up the lid halfway through, and was stunned at how it had risen and how delicious it looked and smelled.
Well, there is a reason you have not yet seen me post something I've made in a Dutch Oven. Because I've made two things already and they both BOMBED!  Miserably BOMBED!

I first tried to make Beef Bourguignon and the recipe I was following I think was defective because it was overcooked, and although the meat was tender and delicious, the gravy was the ugliest gray color I've ever seen. Cooked out all the color and the essence.

So, not to be deterred, I decided to make my own baked beans from scratch. It smelled delicious in here for like five hours as I slow-cooked them, and slow-cooked them, and slow-cooked them, and they STILL were hard. (Yes,  I soaked the beans overnight)

So I threw out the beans because I got tired of messing with them.

So it's Dutch Oven 2, Merlin ZERO.

Then I remembered about baking bread in a Dutch Oven. All I can say is, you gotta try this, you just gotta.

This is a no-knead bread recipe and is intended to be a kind of loose, easy dough, with a lot of bubbles.

Ingredients and Method:

1 package active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour and a bit more for dusting the bread after rising.


Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a bowl or mixer. Add the flour and salt (in that order) and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest on a counter at room temperature at least six hours
and preferably, overnight. (This allows the enzymes to continue to work to develop a nice flavor to
the dough)  It'll be loose and bubble up, that's ok.
Dust a cutting board with some flour and scrape the dough onto it. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the top
as it will be very sticky. Don't knead, just fold the dough over onto itself a couple of times, and shape
into a ball. If the dough is too loose, just knead in 1/4 cup of flour. Repeat as necessary until the dough is the
consistency you would like. Shape into a ball by pulling around the dough edges and folding underneath. Place on the counter on a piece of parchment paper and cover with a towel and let rise for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
When you are ready to bake the bread, preheat the dutch oven in the oven at 450 degrees. Carefully remove the dutch oven, take off the top, and using the parchment paper, lift up the dough ball (towel removed, of course, heh heh)  and gently drop it into the dutch oven. Use a knife to slash 3 slits in the dough, diagonally.Cover and place back in oven. 
Bake covered for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and continue baking for 15 minutes until dough is browned. Remove from oven and cool for one hour before cutting.

All I can say is....   Dutch Oven 2, Merlin ONE!

    74 comments:

    Debbie said...

    Thanks for posting! Will be making this in the next couple of days. Have to get a stainless steel knob for the Le Creuset Dutch oven I want to use. The black knob is only good for up to about 425 degrees. Glad 3 times a charm worked for you and your Dutch oven!

    Chef John said...

    I will have to put this on my to-do list. In the meantime, try doing a pulled pork in the dutch oven.

    2 pound pork butt, salt & pepper, 3/4 cup white vinegar, bottle of bbq sauce, 1/2 onion diced. 300° for 3 hours. I think you will like it.

    magnolia said...

    I too have had a couple of failures lately, but this has been on my todo list for a while, so thanks for the inspiration! I think my hold-up has been timing. When to start the project? If I start now, I'll let it sit overnight then I'll be late for work waiting on my yummy bread to cook. I think maybe Friday is a good day for this. Oooo! I just had a great idea! I'll start it tonight. Then it can do it's work until I get home from work! Thanks!

    Harriet said...

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I baked this bread today in my dutch oven and it turned out great! The crust was crispy and the inside was moist. A success!

    tamilyn said...

    I made Coq Au Vin in my Dutch oven-it was the most awful mess of purple chicken I have ever seen. The Beef stew, however, I did have success with. That bread looks awesome. I need to get a different knob so I can try it.

    Michael said...

    Awesome bread, crisp crust, light and airy, best bread I ever made.

    BTLover2 said...

    I'm so excited to make this bread. I have it resting for the night and will bake tomorrow. Does it matter how large my Dutch oven is?

    The Merlin Menu said...

    I don't think it matters. Mine is an 8 quart capacity and it works just fine.

    I'm happy you're trying it. I bet you'll like it....

    Please let me know.

    Ron

    BTLover2 said...

    I'm already thinking I've screwed this up. My dough is so soft and sticky and I can't even fold it in on itself. My question: how long should the yeast dissolve before adding the flour and salt? Probably a stupid question and very obvious to you, but I am clueless when it comes to yeast. When I make pizza dough, the yeast and sugar are added to the water and I wait about 10 mins. I'm wondering if I didn't wait long enough and my yeast wasn't ready for the flour/salt. Thoughts? Thanks so much for your time and responses.

    The Merlin Menu said...

    No, I don't think it has anything to do with the yeast or the time. And you can easily rescue the dough, just add 1/4 cup flour, knead it in, if it's still too loose, do another 1/4 cup and so on. It'll be fine.

    BTLover2 said...

    Well, shoot, I just threw it out!! I can't believe I could've rescued it. Thanks so much for helping me here. I will definitely do this again (maybe even tomorrow). I will not be defeated :)

    BTLover2 said...

    I did it! I tried again and it worked beautifully. The bread is delicious!! Thanks so much for your help.

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Woo-Hoo!

    I'm so happy, I really am....

    Thanks for sticking with it and seeing it through...

    Now, try the Cinnamon Currant bread in the Dutch Oven, and cut, and toast and butter, and I'm tellin' ya, best bread ever.... (Ahem, besides a good cinnamon roll of course)

    Ron

    Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris said...

    Wow!! This is the first time I see making bread in a Dutch oven...How interesting! I will try it!
    Btw: I can imagine why the gravy in the bourguignon turned gray! Sure sth wrong with the ingredients...

    dining tables said...

    This is pretty interesting. I want to try this one. This is the first time I am going to use a Dutch oven for this one.

    Trish said...

    Can you add additional ingredients such as shredded cheeses and herbs along with chutney in order to get different flavors. And if so where do I go with measurements on the dry and wet products? Trial and error? Thanks for your help.

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Yes you can always add additional ingredients. Dry ingredients are a problem. If you're adding a bit more liquid, just compensate with slightly more flour (1/4 cup increments) so it doesn't get too loose.

    Trish said...

    You say dry ingredients are a problem, why? Do I just need to cut back on the flour a bit when adding dry? I was thinking of adding 1 cup of very good italian cheese shredded and fresh rosemary. New to this as you can tell. Thanks so much.

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Oops, I meant to say,"Dry ingredients are NOT a problem"

    In fact you could add cheese without worrying about the additional flour at all.

    Trish said...

    Do I add these ingredients right after I mix the dough before resting in bowl to risethe 1st time? Or after it as risen 1st time, kneed into the dough and then the second rise on the counter

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Yes, add them before the first rise.

    Anonymous said...

    This looks wonderful! I have a recipe for a no knead bread that gives very similar results, but requires a sponge first. Total time runs over 24hrs which I don't like because I don't usually plan my meals that far ahead.
    I will try this recipe tonight and will return with the results!

    Emilee

    Dan Catinella and Chloe Hodgson said...

    What is your Beef Burgignon recipe?

    The one that came out gray and overcooked?

    Kathy from West Chester, PA said...

    My cousin made this for us last week and it was SPLENDID! He added some finely chopped fresh rosemary and it gave it a real kick. I want to try it and was wondering if it is possible with whole wheat flour. Thank you so much!

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Yes, you can use whole wheat flour. However, I would only cut in about half whole wheat and the rest bread flour as you need the gluten in the white flour to help with the rising of the bread.

    Let me know.

    Glad you're liking the recipe. I sure do. Glad it worked for you.

    The Merlin Menu

    Kathy from West Chester, PA said...

    Yum! The whole wheat flour version turned out perfectly! Thanks for such a fabulous recipe!

    Happy Camper said...

    Thank you for this. This was exactly the kind of bread recipe I have been looking for!

    Emelie said...

    Just made this and it came out pretty good. Didn't quite rise as much as your pics show, but had a nice, thin crust. I used a whole grain flour. Wonder if that's why I didn't get your big rise. Am kinda new to this! Thanks for the recipe!

    Anonymous said...

    Do you mix using a hand mixer, stand mixer or by hand? I am trying to get a great bread recipe without shelling out over $200 for a stand mixer.
    Thanks.

    The Merlin Menu said...

    I use a stand mixer but I used to do all my bread by hand with a wooden spoon. I'm not sure a hand mixer has enough power.

    dirtycook said...

    Hey M.M.

    Great step by step, and thanks!

    Just wondering if you had ever found the fault in your baked beans.

    If not, I'd like to ask if you seasoned the beans prior to cooking. Salt can have the effect of keeping the beans "hard". Hope this helps.

    Also, for people who would like to make the bread without the stand mixer they should try the "autolysing" method. 10 second knead, 10 minute rest, 10 second knead, 10 minute rest, 10 second knead. Then follow the remainder of your recipe. No need for a mixer, it makes surprisingly good crumb considering no mixer is used.

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Thanks for the "kneading" hint.

    As for the beans, no I didn't salt them or anything.

    Linda said...

    Awesome! I've made this 3x! Still tweaking to my preferences & oven....such a hardship. LOL

    Rooster said...

    Ron- Just wanted to let you know that I just baked this and it turned out incredible. I've always been a bit intimidated by French style breads, but this couldn't have been much easier or better tasting. I just found your blog this mornins and reading it has already paid some pretty sweet dividends. Consider me a die hard reader.
    Cheers!

    Rooster said...

    I couldn't let it go, so I made this again for the second time in 24 hours. Quit muttering that I have OCD, please...hahaha
    This time I let it rise overnight and folded it a little more and I got a higher, lighter loaf. I am finding that I have to bake about 10-12 minutes longer that what you suggest, do you think my oven might be a little cool?

    The Merlin Menu said...

    No Rooster, not at all. It's more likely just differences in dough, moisture content, and the dutch oven. One thing you might try is placing a piece of parchment paper over the pot and then put the cover on. This will make a better seal to keep the steam in during the unitial bake.

    The Merlin Menu said...

    *initial

    Rooster said...

    Thanks Ron, that makes a lot of sense. I will give that a go next time, probably this coming weekend.
    I don't know if you are prone to requests, but I would kill for a post about baking a baguette. I don't have access to a good bakery without a two hour drive, and would love being able to bake them myself...cheers and thanks for the time you take to write.

    Anonymous said...

    I've been trying bread recipes for years and nothing has worked for me like this one. I was looking for something to make while camping and have made it 5 times in the last week at home. I'll try it with a campfire next week. It was especially good when I added Italian spices to the mix.

    Jammy said...

    Just ordered my dutch oven, 6 qt, and found this great recipe for hard crust bread. I'm looking forward to the exciting results other folks have had here. One question, though, the dutch oven says max 400 degrees oven temps... now what? It's a Lodge brand. Thanks.

    The Merlin Menu said...

    I've never had a problem going over 400 degrees. My Dutch Oven is a lodge also. If you consider that a Dutch Oven is often used when camping with hot coals, going to 450 degrees is not a problem Besides, in my bread recipe, you don't leave it at that temperature for very long.

    Make sure you season it first!

    Enjoy!

    Ron Merlin

    Rooster said...

    Ron-
    Just made this one again, I let the yeast proof for a bit and put in a layer of parchment before putting on the lid as you suggested. It turned out incredible.
    Thanks for the help in getting the last 10% perfect.
    Cheers

    Anonymous said...

    I got a good bread first time w 6 qt ceramic. I was wondering though, why not use a pizza stone and a clay dome? I havent found a dom yet, but seems like I could get a couple and bake 2 loaves side by side on pizza stones w domes. Also maybe the dome would help my pizza crusts too?

    The Merlin Menu said...

    I suppose you could use a pizza stone and clay dome, but my concern would be getting a tight enough seal to keep the steam in, which is why a Dutch Oven is used.

    kahner said...

    Thanks for the recipe, I'm totally new to bread baking and didn't even have a bread pan, so the dutch oven worked great. I do have a question though. The bread turned out great, looked good etc, but I found the flavor pretty bland. If I'm looking for a more robustly flavored bread what would I change? Can I add/substitute butter, eggs or milk? Use different yeast? Thanks for any suggestions.

    Jamie said...

    absolutely amazing bread. I have made it several times and it certainly doesn't last long in my house. I am putting together a loaf w/ half wheat flour tonight.

    has anyone experimented with other additions to this recipe? adding in grains/seeds or anything to amp up the health factor?

    kahner said...

    @jamie - I added a little brown sugar to the yeast and water and next time i'm going to try adding some honey and oliveoil to the dough. I'll post results. If you want to see how my first load turned out, there's pictures and stuff at my blog http://eatjc.blogspot.com/2012/01/spread-bread.html .

    Dave said...

    Awesome! I just made it, my wife and I love it. Thanks for posting.

    Christine Carlton said...

    Your blog and recipe were the FIRST hit when I googled "dutch oven bread" (I'm reading The Hunger Games and I got hungry!). I've got my first batch rising now. I use my dutch oven and other cast iron ware for EVERYTHING (especially solar oven cooking).

    How set in stone is the rising time? Problematically, I didn't get hungry enough EARLY enough to start this journey earlier! :-)

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Ha ha, Christine. Great and humorous comment.

    The first rise is very flexible in my opinion. The second one, no so much, although, if you let it rise an extra hour or so, you'll just have some "holes" in the bread when you finish, which personally, I don't mind at all.

    Hope that helps.

    Let me know how it comes out.


    The Merlin Menu

    Christine Carlton said...

    Either this recipe is hugely forgiving, or I've just got ridiculously frisky yeasty beasties.

    I turned on the oven for a few minutes, then turned it off... figuring a little heat and the pilot light would keep it warm enough (my house is 60 deg) and boy HOWDY was that a happy temp for yeast! I punched it down a COUPLE of times!

    I didn't have parchment paper, and instead I used tin foil with some "Pam" sprayed on it. After shaping the dough, putting it on the foil, and letting it rise another 30min, into the oven it went.

    Oh, early on I added some chopped rosemary from the garden... mostly because NOT adding something from the garden seemed odd. And radishes probably wouldn't taste too nice.

    Crazy dough, crazy easy, if this turns out, I'm nominating you for some kind of award. Ri-dic-u-lous!!!

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Christine, so fun to "chat" with you.

    I add herbs, and sometimes cinnamon and raisins and stuff, I'm always messing with it. And it's never disappointed me. I'm sitting here with fingers crossed.

    Oh and check out: http://themerlinmenu.blogspot.com/2010/10/cinnamon-currant-bread.html

    Christine Carlton said...

    Ditto... but funner still to eat this yummy bread! Mayyybe could have let it cook a couple more minutes, but I just COULD. NOT. HANDLE. IT. ANYMORE... so I took it out... then fiddled around for 15 minutes, realized I'd never wait the full hour, and cut into it.

    uh.maze.ing.

    And that's a highly overused word.. . and completely applicable to this recipe.

    Reason 598 for loving my dutch oven! THANK YOU RON!! i gmailed you a photo!

    Anonymous said...

    I just wanted to make a comment about your beans not getting soft no matter how long you cook them. That has to do with Salt....if you put salt in lentils or beans of any kind before you cook them to tender, they will not get soft. My daughter is a chef and told me that when i was frustrated trying to cook curried lentils... hope your beans work out....I made mine with white beans, maple syrup, cubed apples and precooked smoked bacon....with apple slices and crumble on to for the last 45min....OMG so good.

    Karen said...

    I just wanted to make a comment about your beans not getting soft no matter how long you cook them. That has to do with Salt....if you put salt in lentils or beans of any kind before you cook them to tender, they will not get soft. My daughter is a chef and told me that when i was frustrated trying to cook curried lentils... hope your beans work out....I made mine with white beans, maple syrup, cubed apples and precooked smoked bacon....with apple slices and crumble on to for the last 45min....OMG so good.

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Now see? THAT is why I have a blog. Not necessarily to share how to cook.

    But to learn how to cook.


    Thank you anonymous!

    I'm doin' baked beans, no salt to start with, in the Dutch Oven this weekend.

    The Merlin Menu.

    Christine Carlton said...

    Oh Mr. Merlin, I have made bread three times now... Never the same (intentionally) and this is HOW IT'S DONE, SON! (i can only get away with acting like I've got a Paula Deen accent when I type!) Right now I've got a "basic" version in the oven, with half a cup of "reconstituted" dried chopped onion incorporated.


    This is ALSO the first time I've actually let it do first rising for the recommended time (about 12h, in the fridge, punching down several times).

    here's another hip hip hooray for this recipe.

    My neighbor, a french chef and restaurant owner was vey interested in your recipe. I asked him how HE gets such awesome bread and he says that he par-bakes his bread, then FINISHES it much later, which is how HE gets crusty bread (and why the neighborhood smells divine so often... He must do it at home, then finishes it at the restaurant.)

    Thanks again for this malleable winner!

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Ha ha, love your comment. And I, too, speak in a "Paula Deen" accent.

    "Now ya'll, take 'bout a pound o'butter"

    Laura said...

    I love this bread! Have made it several times in a 4 Quart Dutch oven.

    @ Jamie who was wondering if anyone added grains/nuts.
    2 Tbsp Flax Seeds
    2 Tbsp Seasame Seeds
    2 Tbsp Sunflower Seeds
    1 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
    I also do 2 cups whole wheat flour plus 1 cup white flour. Turns out delicious!

    For something a little different and just as yummy.
    I mix 1 Tbsp of Olive oil with 1 Tbsp of rosemary and let stand for at least an hour.
    Add olive oil mixture with rest of ingredients but take out 1 Tbsp of water.

    Enjoy!

    Joanne said...

    For great beef bourgignon try Julia Child's recipe In Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I have made this recipe several times and it has always been fabulous. It's time consuming to make because of how the recipe is written and broken up in several steps but it is worth it. You will not be disappointed. I will need to try your bread recipe camping.

    Astheart said...

    I have seen a couple of such recipes (even videos)and tried them. Always I had a problem with removing the bread from my dutch oven. But I have never tried to bake it on baking paper. Seems to be a good idea. I´ll definitely try! Another problem I have is my oven because I have a gas oven and it´s impossible to set temperature there. There´s just a nob with 2 marks, full heat and middle. But I can set it in any position. Then everything depends on the time you preheat it and you have to know how to handle the nob during baking. And sometimes, especially when you bake something for the first time, it´s very hard to manage it.

    Astheart said...

    Have made it twice. First time I followed the recipe. Second I changed about 1/2 cup of flour for rye flour and added 1 tsp of caraway and 1 tbs of vinegar. Both times it turned out perfect!!!!

    Michael Nicewander said...

    I have gotten into a kick of trying to cook many different recipes in a dutch oven, all outdoors using charcoal. So I thought this would be a great challenge and used your recipe...it turned out perfect. I am now attempting a whole wheat flour version, although I didn't read the comment about 1/2 and 1/2 until I had it all mixed up and sitting on the counter...we'll see how it turns out. Thanks for the recipe!

    Karol M. said...

    Geesh...I hope you try the beef bourginon ( sorry for the poor spelling ) again....we use Julia Childs recipe and it is always wonderful....we usually double the quantities for the sauce to have EXTRA wonderfulness....I am going to try this bread very soon!!!

    Eric said...

    Made this bread today in my dutch oven. I added 8 cloves of garlic and about 3/4 cup of finely shredded cheddar. Turned out sooooo good!!

    I made the Irish Brown bread yesterday. Amazing stuff.

    Thanks!

    Bianca Pascuchelli said...

    This kind of bread is very well sold in Argentine bakeries. There are many people of Dutch descendant and they still eat some of the food their ancestor used to make. The good thing is that in Argentina, bread and dulce de leche is the basic breakfast for everybody, so if you are hungry in the morning, don´t worry, some slices of bread will be waiting for you with delicious dulce de leche or jam to put on it in any restaurant or pastry shop. I had an apartment for rent in buenos aires when I travelled there near one of thise stores. They used to bring me breakfast every morning with the newspaper in English. It was so nice, the bread was still hot and the dulce de leche mixed with butter tastes like heaven!

    Scott A. said...

    Thank you for posting this. I've made this three times since buying a cast dutch oven last month and it really is so simple (after reading your instructions) and delicious.

    Margie said...

    Read that someone had made this n the smaller Dutch oven. I think I'll try it. I just can't manage the 6 qt. one--just a little too heavy for putting in the oven. I use it on the top of the stove, though.
    My only concern is my smaller one is a cheap brand that I bought at a department store. Not sure it'll hold up like a Lodge.
    Any thoughts?

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Margie,

    It should be fine. Place a piece of parchment paper across the top of the pot and then cover so you get a nice tight fit to keep the steam in until you remove it later for final baking.

    Anonymous said...

    Maybe a dumb question, but will a ceramic coated cast iron Dutch oven work? The one in the pic doesn't appear to be coated but that's all I have.

    The Merlin Menu said...

    Absolutely, ceramic coated cast iron will work perfectly.

    siddhant said...

    very nice blog. We are bakery oven supplier . We offer wide range of ovens including rotary rack ovens , forced convection ovens and stainless steel rotary rack ovens. Our ovens are manufactured keeping into guidelines provided by European Union for exporters. Heat are evenly flowed, so that maximum baking area is covered. Our ovens are used for the purpose of baking of breads, biscuits, rusks etc.

    The energy required in the baking process is rightly fine tuned by an energy saving heating unit along with a well balanced blower with precision nozzle which distributes the exact amount of heat necessary into the baking chamber.

    Penguinia said...

    I make this almost every day now. Thanks!

    Anonymous said...

    Howdy would you mind sharing which blog platform you're using?
    I'm looking to start my own blog soon but I'm having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something unique.
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