Jim Lahey owns Sullivan Street Bakery and Co. in New York City and while he is now famous for his bread recipe and baking bread in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven, that isn’t where he started. Prior to baking bread, Mr. Lahey studied sculpture.
However, he soon gave that up so that he could study the art of baking bread in Italy and we are so glad that he did.
As Mr. Lahey studied in Italy, he learned many of the older European techniques that were used for baking and one of them included baking inside a closed clay pot.
Most people do not have old clay pots with covers inside their home, but Mr. Lahey found that a cast iron Dutch oven would work just as well.
The enamel cast iron Dutch oven traps the moisture inside the bread dough and the steam creates a crust that is crisp.
In order tocreate more steam inside the Dutch oven, it is recommended that people simply preheat it before adding the dough, as this will make the crust crack and look like artisanal loaves from a famous bakery.
Here are the 3 best cast iron Dutch ovens for baking bread that we found:
#1. Lodge L8DOL3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Dual Handles, Pre-Seasoned, 5 Quart
This five quart Dutch oven comes pre-seasoned and ready to use as soon as a person takes it out of the box. The process that is used for the seasoning ensures that the Dutch oven has a nonstick surface without the harsh fumes of chemicals.
#2. Lodge L8DD3 Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven, 5 Quart
The Lodge L8DD3 Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven is pre-seasoned as well, so it is also ready to use right out of the box. This Dutch oven is available in black, which will match any kitchen décor as well as existing pots and pans.
#3. Lodge L8DO3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven, Pre-Seasoned, 5 Quart
The spiral loop handle on this Dutch oven makes it quite different than the other models that we tried. It was nice to be able to lift the Dutch oven using the spiral loop handle instead of the handles on the sides.
Joseph Lodge created his cast iron business back in 1896 and the company has only improved their methods in more than a century since. They have tried to perfect their pre-seasoning method, so that everyone can use their Dutch oven as soon as they receive it, instead of taking the time to season it themselves.
Cast iron Dutch ovens may need to be re-seasoned on occasion though and people will know that they need to do that if their food is sticking or their cast iron turns a dull gray. It is simple to do and a person would need to first wash their Dutch oven with hot and soapy water.
After rinsing the Dutch oven thoroughly and drying it completely, a person would need to apply a thin coating of melted solid vegetable shortening to the Dutch oven. A piece of aluminum foil can be placed on the bottom of the oven and the pan can be placed upside down on an oven rack.
The Dutch oven should bake in a 350 to 400-degree oven for at least an hour. The Dutch oven should then cool in the oven before being removed and stored.
The company recommends that everyone cleans these products properly, before storing them and using them again as this will prevent the need for re-seasoning.
Prior to use, people should coat their Dutch ovens with a light coating of vegetable oil. After using their Dutch oven, they should be cleaned with a stiff nylon brush and hot water.
Dish detergent, soap, or other chemicals should never be used unless the Dutch oven needs re-seasoning and they should never be placed in the dishwasher.
Once the Dutch oven has been cleaned, it should be towel dried and then coated with a thin layer of vegetable oil when it is still warm.
We ran into multiple scenarios with all three of the Dutch ovens that we tried and we needed to re-season certain areas where they had what looked like rust.
We believe that it was not actually rust, but instead an area that needed additional seasoning as well as time, since it takes multiple uses before a cast iron Dutch oven is properly seasoned.
While we loved all three of these items and they baked our bread to perfection, we would choose the Lodge L8DD3 Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven for our own kitchen.
The reason for this is the lid that can be used as a skillet. We love kitchen items that can be used in multiple ways and this will allow us to season our Dutch oven and lid much faster. Plus, we can cook up some delicious food in the skillet to go along with our freshly baked bread.