Country bread baked in a Dutch oven

I rarely bake bread in a Dutch oven but every time I do it I wonder why I do not do it more often. The Dutch oven has the big advantage that it preserve the humidity of the dough and this helps the bread to raise very nicely.
Of course you can simulate the humidity by adding steam into your classic oven, but the Dutch oven makes the things so simple... And the result is outstanding almost every time.

I need to mention that for this photo my daughter hold the bread and the most difficult task for her was to stop herself biting from it. Of course after the shooting, both of my kids enjoyed a freshly baked slice of this gorgeous bread.


  • 70g sourdough (100% hydration)
  • 280g wheat flour
  • 345g water
Final dough
  • 582g water (at 40ºC)
  • 125g rye flour
  • 935g wheat flour
  • the above preferment
  • 20g salt
  • few grains of black sesame seeds for decoration (optional)

  1. Day 1, 19:30. Start making the preferment, by simply mixing first the sourdough with water and add the flour the last. Use the quantities indicated for the preferment only.
  2. Put the preferment in a bowl and cover it with a lid. Let it stand over night at room temperature (~17ºC)
  3. Day 2, 8:45. Prepare a partial final dough, by mixing for 15 minutes the water, rye and wheat flour with the preferment. It is preferably to use a standing mixer but you can also do it by hand. 
  4. Day 2, 9:00 Leave the dough in the standing bowl of the mixer but cover it to avoid drying on the surface. This is a kind of an autolyse phase as we do not add the salt at this stage.
  5. Day 2, 9:30. Add the salt now and mix to well incorporate it.
  6. Day 2, 10:30. Do the first round of stretch and fold. This helps building the nice structure for the bread. Practically, wet your hand, and stretch the dough with your hand in the bowl like trying to turn it in the same bowl. Do this 5-6 times and is enough. Cover the bowl back and let it stand.
  7. Day 2, 11:45. Do the second round of the stretch and fold.
  8. Day 2, 13:00. Do the third and the last stretch and fold. You will notice that the dough is much easier to stretch and turn with every stretch and fold phase.
  9. Day 2, 17:00. Take the dough out and put it on a lightly floured board. Divide the dough in 2 and give each a round shape (called boule). Put the boules in floured bannetons and cover them with a towel. You can sprinkle some black sesame seeds on the top of the boule before returning it in the banneton. Leave the dough to rise for this second fermentation phase.
  10. Day 2, 18:15. Turn on the oven to preheat at 270ºC. Put in the oven also a Dutch oven (a heavy cast iron pot) to heat together with its lid. If you have 2 dutch ovens that fit your conventional oven, heat them both. If not, just bake the bread one after the other. I used both methods, both with its advantages and disadvantages. When cooking with 2 dutch ovens in the same time, because of an uneven heat, one of the bread will be to brown on top and the other on the bottom. When cooking in serie, you'll use your oven for 1 hour and a half instead of just 45 minutes.
  11. Day 2, 19:00. Take the Dutch oven out and sprinkle some semolina on the bottom of the pot. Be very careful at this step because the pot is extremely hot. Reverse the dough in the dutch oven. Score the top of your bread with a knife or a sharp blade and put the lid on top of the pot.
  12. Bake the bread for 15 minutes while keeping the high temperature of the oven at 270ºC.
  13. After these 15 minutes, remove the lid, reduce the temperature to 220º and continue to bake for another 30 minutes. 
  14. Day 2, 19:45. Take the bread out of the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack completely.

Now you are ready to cut it and enjoy a wonderful homemade rustic bread.


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