Baking sourdough bread in a Dutch oven is a popular and effective method among many bakers. The Dutch oven is good at creating a sealed and steamy environment that allows the bread to rise and develop a beautiful crust. Here is everything about Dutch oven sourdough that you should know!
Why Cook Sourdough Bread in a Dutch Oven?
Using a Dutch oven to cook sourdough bread has some advantages, including:
- Heat retention: With construction such as heavy cast iron or enameled cast iron, a Dutch oven is relatively good at heat retention. When preheated in the oven, it becomes a mini-oven that traps and circulates heat around the sourdough, creating a consistent and even baking environment for a well-risen loaf with a crisp crust result.
- Steam generation: The steam in the oven creates a moist environment that keeps hydrated for the sourdough’s surface, preventing it from quickly drying out.
- Crust development: A Dutch oven forms an enclosed space that promotes optimal crust development. The steam generated during baking and the extended moisture prevents the bread from forming too early and has enough time to develop a thick, crispy crust. And the result is a beautifully caramelized and blistered crust.
- Better oven spring: Oven spring is the rapid rise and expansion of bread sourdough in the first few minutes of baking. The enclosed environment and trapped steam that a Dutch oven creates give ideal conditions for developing a better oven spring. The sourdough can expand rapidly, resulting in a lighter, airier crumb.
Dutch oven sourdough bread recipe
Here is a simple recipe for sourdough bread using a Dutch oven:
- 400 grams of bread flour
- 100 grams whole wheat flour
- 350 grams water
- 100 grams active sourdough starter
- 10 grams salt
- Mix the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and water in a large bowl until all the flour is hydrated and there are no dry patches. Let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Add the active sourdough starter to the bowl and mix well with the dough. Next, sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix again.
- Repeat the process of stretching and folding the dough for a total of 3-4 sets. Once finished each set, cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel; then, allow the dough to rest for about 30 minutes.
- After doing all of the sets, let the dough ferment (with cover) for 3-4 hours at room temperature. For the first 2 hours, do a set of stretches and folds every 30 minutes, then let it rest for the remaining time.
- Shape the dough with a round boule and lightly flour for easy forming. Use a bowl with a well-floured kitchen towel and place the dough in it. Proof the dough in the refrigerator overnight, ideally for 12-16 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 475°F (245°C) for at least 30 minutes with a Dutch oven inside.
- Take the preheated Dutch oven out of the oven. Let the sourdough out onto a piece of parchment paper as a sling. Carefully place it into the preheated Dutch oven. Cover a Dutch oven with a lid and return it to the oven.
- Bake sourdough for 20 minutes with a lid Dutch oven. Then, remove the lid and bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust becomes golden brown.
- Once baked, take the bread from the Dutch oven; next, put it on a wire rack to cool down. Now it’s time to slice and enjoy your homemade sourdough bread!
How to bake sourdough bread without a Dutch oven?
If you don’t have a Dutch oven in hand, you can use a baking tray or cast iron skillet to bake sourdough. Here’s a guideline for you to follow:
- Once you prepare the shaped dough as steps above, place it onto a baking tray covered with parchment paper (should sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking).
- Preheat the oven to 475°F (245°C) with the baking tray inside for at least 30 minutes. Then transfer the baking tray with the sourdough to the preheated oven. It typically takes 35-40 minutes to bake. To achieve a desirable crispy crust, place a pan with hot water on a lower rack in the oven. The steam can keep the sourdough’s surface always moist for better oven spring and crust development.
- When you see the crust turn golden brown or hear the sounds hollow in the bottom of the bread when tapped, it’s already well baked. Remove the bread from the oven, and allow it to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Cast Iron Skillet
- When completed preparing the dough, shape it and let it undergo the final proofing; preheat the oven to 475°F (245°C) with the cast iron skillet inside for at least 30 minutes before placing the sourdough in it.
- Put the sourdough with parchment paper into the preheated cast iron skillet and bake for 35-40 minutes in the oven. Once baked, be cautious when handling the hot skillet; always use oven mitts or heat-resistant gloves in this process. Remove the bread from the skillet, allowing it to cool completely before slicing.
- Thanks to the ability to retain heat well, the cast iron skillet can help create a crisp and well-browned crust. But for those who prefer a softer crust, tent the skillet with aluminum foil for the last 10-15 minutes to prevent over-browning.
FAQ relate to topic Dutch Oven Sourdough
What temperature do you cook sourdough in a Dutch oven?
A common temperature range when baking sourdough is around 450°F to 475°F (230°C to 245°C). Bake the sourdough in a preheated Dutch oven with a lid at a high temperature for about 20 minutes. For the rest time, usually 20-25 minutes, bake the bread uncovered at a lower temperature around 425°F (220°C).
Do you bake sourdough on parchment paper in a Dutch oven?
You should use parchment paper in a Dutch oven for baking sourdough for several benefits:
- Before baking, parchment paper helps simplify the handle and transfer the sourdough into the preheated Dutch oven without disturbing its shape.
- During baking, it helps prevent the sourdough from sticking to the Dutch oven.
- After baking, the parchment paper allows you to lift the sourdough out of the hot Dutch oven without burning yourself or deflating the sourdough.
Should I spray my sourdough with water?
Spraying the sourdough with water before baking creates a moist environment in the oven, giving a better crust development for your sourdough bread. The moisture delays the formation of a dry crust, helps the bread expand easily, and improves its oven spring process to get the desired texture and color of the crust.
Is a four qt Dutch oven big enough for sourdough?
A 4-quart Dutch oven is ideal for most baking sourdough bread recipes, especially for smaller to medium loaves weighing around 500 grams to 750 grams (1.1 to 1.7 pounds). But for those who prefer larger loaves, a 5-quart or 6-quart Dutch oven may have more space for larger or multiple ones.
Although using a Dutch oven to bake sourdough bread achieves fantastic results, we recommend you consider factors such as the hydration of your sourdough, the activity of your sourdough starter, and your oven’s characteristics; all of them can influence the baking process. Adjust accordingly to suit your preferences and baking conditions for the best results for your desired loaf.
Founded by a group of passionate foodies and cocktail enthusiasts, We believe that the act of cooking a delicious meal and concocting the perfect drink isn’t just about satisfying hunger and thirst; it’s a form of self-expression and an avenue for nurturing your well-being from the inside out.