Dutch Oven – Bread baking tip

Its pretty easy to turn out passable chow in outdoor cooking.  Shoot – everything prepared outside just seems to taste better and the outdoor cook is always one very popular fellow.  Just about anything that can be cooked inside your house can also be prepared outside – invariably drawing rave reviews from the hungry natives.

As easy as most all of it is – there is one arena where you need to have a few tips of the trade – and that involves bread.  Most outdoor cooks rely on cornbread, biscuits and the occasional loaf of sourdough that just doesn’t seem “right”.

The secret is in the last 5-8 minutes of cooking time and its so simple you only have to try it once to get that “Eureka” moment that comes with a beautiful bread to be appreciated with butter and honey.

You must always remember to coat the inside of your dutch oven, (including the lid), with oil while it is still cool.  If you are cooking a bread that must rise, let it do its final rise right in the dutch oven before you place it over the coals. Go ahead and use the biggest dutch oven you have for baking bread – with a 14″ oven you can bake off 3 loafs of bread at once, or several dozen biscuits or rolls. Believe me – if done right it will all disappear rapidly.

ITS ALL IN THE BROWNING: Generally, bread takes about 25 to 30 minutes to bake at 350° – you will be rotating the lid as described in an earlier post – so “peek” and plan ahead.  About 8 minutes before you figure it should be done, remove the lid and rapidly do a light brushing of all tops with butter. (WEAR YOUR GLOVES!) then replace the lid being very careful not to let ashes get introduced into the oven.  Now remove all of the coals from underneath and place them on the lid for browning the tops with all of the heat focused on the lid.  By the time you get the coals transfered to the lid, there should remain about 5-7 minutes of baking time left – every two minutes, check your bread until it looks perfect.  Burned bread is not a good thing to enhance your reputation. Bread with a properly browned top crust will make you famous. 😉

How do I know when my bread/biscuits/etc. is done?  Other than color, you should still fall back on the oldest “tried and true” method – stick a toothpick in it, if it comes out clean you are good to go, if not then bake for another few minutes and try it again.

Carefully remove the lid and set it aside – you can come back to clean the coals/ashes off if it. Right now you need to get your dutch oven off of the coals.  If you have a bread board, you can simply place it over the top of your oven, invert it, and your “perfect” bread will fall right on the board.  (Have I mentioned how wonderful a good, heavy, pair of welder’s gloves that cover your forearms work for this stuff?)

Be prepared to bask in the undying admiration of your hungry brood – also to respond to cries of “encore”. 8)

One final note – I mentioned letting your dough do its final rise right inside the cool, pre-greased, dutch oven.  This is far from a must item – more of a thought from someone else that I picked up along the way – and one I normally ignore.  I am in the habit of pre-heating all of my iron-ware for health considerations, and it is a difficult habit to break.  A well pre-heated oven, (especially the lid), gives the absolute best results for cornbread and biscuits. Pre-heating the lid is a MUST item for baking most flat-breads and pies!  Also, don’t be afraid to move more of your coals to the lid early on.  You only have to turn out a dish that is burned on the bottom and soggy on top once to learn the value of leaning to lots of coals on the lid and few on the bottom ring.

This entry was posted by dave on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 at 9:12 pm and is filed under Dutch Oven Cooking . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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