Introduction: Dutch Oven Bread, Trials and Tribulations

About: I’m am Systems Engineer (nothing to do with IT) by training, in my spare time I love designing building, making pretty much anything. I also love doing new thing, going to new places and being outside. I reall…

When the Wife says Dutch oven and laughs its not normally
because she just brought me a Dutch oven. But this time she had.

(for the rest of this story a Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid, typical made out of cast iron).

All will be explained in due course, but a quick bit about how I ended up here. Me and the Wife both love camping and cooking on the fire. Usually we cut some vegetables and meat up into cubes, add some herbs, some beer and maybe some stock cube if we have some. Wrap the whole lot in some tinfoil parcels and sling it in the fire. 30 minutes later you have a steaming hot pouch of delicious juicy meat and veg. One of the down side to this is you end up with messy tinfoil which you just have to throw away which seems like a waste. It also limits the size of the meat you can cook.

Talking about this, I must have mentioned getting a Dutch oven and a few weeks ago just before our last camping trip with some friends she secretly bought me one. First thoughts out the box was this thing is beautifully made and weighs a tone. A large chunk of cast iron mass is what you want for a good even cook.

We brought a large leg of lamb from the farmer who's field we were camping in and I couldn't wait to get it in the pot. I did over cook it a little but I was still delicious and the flavours were so intense. When I do it again I will share the results with you.

So the following weekend I was at home and thought, "I wonder if I can cook some bread in this Dutch oven?". Let me just add I think I have tried to make bread about twice in my life and have only used the Dutch oven once before. So I felt the chances of success were 50/50. Never the less, I thought I would give it ago.

The first attempt was an absolute FAIL but I learnt so much from it so I will share that with you also. learning from the 1st failure the second attempt was a massive success and I was super happy with the results.

So sit back relax I hope you enjoy this and it inspires you to get out and have a go. The following steps will take you thought the who thing and so hopefully you get it right first time.

If you enjoy the story, please leave a comment and/or vote for me in the outdoor cooking comp. I really appreciated to know if you enjoy this stuff and what to bring you next.

Step 1: The Plan

The Plan

  1. Make the dough - 20-30min
  2. Let the dough rise 30min-1hour
  3. Make a charcoal chimney - 45min (I won’t cover this in this instructable)
  4. Make some hot coals -10min
  5. Set up and preheat the Dutch oven - 10min
  6. Cook the dough - 30-45min
  7. Enjoy bread with dinner

What actually happened:

  1. Steps 1-4 done
  2. Checked the dough, no rise.
  3. Get frustrated shout and jump around a little
  4. Calm down
  5. Decide there is something wrong with the yeast,
  6. Run to the shops to buy some more yeast
  7. Try and cook the non-risen dough any way
  8. Learn some lessons
  9. Repeat steps 1
  10. Check the dough (yeah its risen)
  11. Cook the dough to perfection
  12. Enjoy some freshly made bread covered in melted butter
  13. Feel good about sticking with it
  14. Take the rest to work and enjoy with others

Step 2: What You Need

For the dough:

Recipe: I used the one on the back of the yest packet on both attempts the first yeast needed sugar adding the second one didn't

  • 500G / 1Lb 2Oz Strong Bread Flour (extra for dusting)
    • note: i used wholemeal flour on the failed loaf and strong white bread flour on the good one
  • 7g / 1.25 tsp Salt
  • 1 sachet of yest
  • 25g /1 Oz of butter
  • 350ml / 12 FL OZ water (warm 1/3 boiling 2/cold)

Kitchen Tools

  1. Large bowl
  2. Measuring jug
  3. Tea spoon
  4. Scales
  5. Fork
  6. Work top

For the cooking:

  1. Dutch oven - roughly 30cm / 12inch across (6L capacity)
  2. gloves and tools for handling the hot oven
  3. You could cook this in a normal oven 230C, 450F, Gas mark 8

For the Coals

  1. tongs/ poky stick
  2. Charcoal chimney
  3. Any type of food grade charcoal
    • I used loos charcoal, I think you might get better control and less ash from brikets
    • I wouldn't recommend using the pre soaked easy light stuff

Step 3: Making the Dough

There are loads of ways to do this i just followed the method on the back of the yest packet

  1. Weigh out all the ingredients
  2. Add the salt (7g) to the flour (500g) ( the first yeast also needed sugar)
  3. Rub in the butter (25g)

      Cover the butter in the flour use two hands and rub it between your fingers keep, covering the butter so the butter never realy touches your fingers it will soon disappear in the mix

  4. Stir in the yeast (1sachet)
  5. Add the water (350ml) a little at a time mix in with a fork
  6. Use your fingers and combine in the bowl

      The brown dough came out quite dry the white much weter and needed quite a bit of flour to stop it sticking to everything

  7. Flour the work surface
  8. Tip the dough onto the floured work surface
  9. Knead for 10 min

      The dough will get smoother and smoother the more you knead it

  10. Retun to the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel to stop it drying out
  11. Leave in a warm place for 30min-1h or untill it has doubled in size

      I left mine in the sun and in a slightly warm oven

Step 4: Making Coals (x3)

If you would like me to write up how i made my charcoal chimney please let me know in the comments there are other good examples out there. or you can by one but not as fun

I placed a broken concrete slap down as a stable platform for the chimney to sit on. It will burn and drop ash on anything you put underneath it.

  1. Load your chimney with coals
  2. Screw up two sheets of newspaper and a few fine sticks
  3. Sit the chimney on top of the paper
  4. Light the paper

      I used a small blow torch so easy and no burnt fingers

  5. Check that it has taken

      If not repeat steps 1-4

  6. If you see a whiteish smoke it has probably taken
  7. leave for about 10-15min
  8. The white smoke will be gone and you should see a load of white and red coals in the chimney

      These will be very very very very hot

During the cooking process you will probably need 2-3 batches of coals, if you leave a few hot coals in the chimney they will light you next batch

    Step 5: A Bit About My Dutch Oven & Home Made Tools

    A few things about Dutch ovens and what i like about ours. First of these are cheap items (i think ours was about £70 delivered). But they should last a life time. The heavier and thicker the skin, the more thermal mass there will be, the more the heat will evenly dissipate and the more forgiving it will be when cooking. They do need a bit of care and will rust if not treated properly. (don't use any washing up liquid just water and a bit of elbow grease)

    I have only ever used 1 dutch oven and so can only tell you about what i like about mine:

    • It is a Petromax Dutch Oven - FT6-T which is big enough for 4-6 people (a few links below)
    • It is a solid lump of cast iron
    • The lid fits very nicely and is extremely well balanced
    • The bowl has feet for standing in the fire
    • The lid also has feet and can be flipped upside down and used directly on the coals with out the need for a stand. This isn't the case with a lot of other Dutch ovens i have seen. i used the lid to cook a full fry up for 4 people bacon, eggs and sausages Yummmmmy

    Home made lifting Tools

    I made a few simple tools for the camping trip so i could lift the pot and lid when hot

    1. Cut the end off your wifes wooden broom handle ( she is shorter then me so doesn't need the whole length anyway) (Quote from the wife-"He forgets that the wife has to spell check these write ups and is lucky comments like this remain in!!")
    2. Drill a hole threw it
    3. Stick a spare metal tent peg through it and bend the end over so it wont come back out

    I made two different handles one for heavy lifting and one for more control they work great and were practical free.

    Step 6: Setting Up the Oven

    Things you will need:

    1. Dutch oven
    2. Charcol chimney
    3. Tongs to move coals
    4. Pokey stick for poking coals
    5. lifting hooks for moving the the dutch oven
    6. Non combustible surface

    What to do:

    1. Lay out a non combustible surface i used some old quarry tiles
      • Side point, the tiles are from north Wales and i think they are about 70 -100 years old does any one know anything about them?
    2. Lay a ring of coals down about the diameter of you oven you dont need that many the heat will come from the top aswell
    3. Sit the pot on top
    4. Set some more coals on the top of the lid around the outside ring
    5. Leave to heat up 10-15 mins
    6. Leave a few coals in the chimney to light your next batch about 15min before you need them

    Step 7: Cooking the Dough

    Take 1 (Failed un-risen wholemeal dough)

    I decided to cook the wholemeal dough while the white dough was rising, as a bit of an experiment

    I put a small amount of oil in the oven moved it around a bit then droped the dough on top. I put the lid back on and left to cook. Every 15 min i rotated the oven 45 deg clockwise and the lid 45deg anti clockwise to try and ensure an even cook inside

    What i learnt:

    1. You need less coals than you think especially on the bottom
    2. Don't use any oil unless you oven is really dry

    Take 2 (white dough nicely risen) (sorry don't have as many pics i was having dinner)

    1. Tip out you beautiful risen dough onto a flowered surface

        Try not to handle to much

    2. Form into a shape by tucking the edges underneath
    3. Cover a board in flower and semalena
    4. Put your dough on the board to transfer to the oven
    5. Take the lid off the oven
    6. Add a handful of semalena and flour to the bottom of the oven

        This was to try and ensure the white loaf wouldn't burn on the bottom

    7. Rest your dough on top of the flower and semalena
    8. Put the lid back on

        You just have to guess the temperature and add a few more coals as you go along remember to keep rotating the pot and lid this will hopefully even out any hot spots.

    9. Cook for about 45minuts

        Near then end i took it out and taped the bottom it should sound hollow

    Step 8: Have Some Dinner

    So the bread was meant to go on the side but wasn't ready in time : (

    but dinner was just as good

    Step 9: Enjoying the Results

    What your meant to do:

    1. Put it on a rack and wait a while for it to cool off a little (are you having a laugh i already waited 4 hours)
    2. Brush off the flower from the underside
    3. Cut, butter and enjoy

    What you should do:

    1. Instantly cut the end off
    2. Smother in butter
    3. Enjoy
    4. Immediately repeat steps 1 to 3

    Due to not having any preservatives in it it will only last a few days. so the best thing to do is share with your friends and family. This loaf was still good 2 days later just being wrapped in some baking paper before i finished it off for lunch.

    Thanks for reading and i hope you have ago even if its just at the making bread part, it is so worth it. Its probably taken me longer two write this then actually do it and i know which one i will be doing again.

    If you have enjoyed this please vote for me in the outdoor cooking comp

    If you have any hints tip please share with every one below.

    : )

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