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Dutch oven bread is a type of bread that can be baked using a Dutch oven, rather than a standard home or baker’s oven. A Dutch oven is basically a fairly large cast iron pot, with a lid, that can be cooked over a fire, on hot coals, within an oven, or on a stove top. Many different types of bread can be made in such an oven, though fairly simple breads that require only flour, yeast, water, and salt are quite common. Dutch oven bread benefits from the use of a Dutch oven for baking in a number of ways, such as the convenience of making such bread while camping.
The only essential ingredients to make Dutch oven bread are a Dutch oven, a heat source, and a few basic ingredients. Dutch ovens are types of pots that can be fairly large, have lids, and are typically made from cast iron, though ceramic coatings over the cast iron are quite common. These ovens can be used in a number of ways, and are often used for slow cooking or camping.
Someone using a Dutch oven to make Dutch oven bread at home should use one that can withstand high heat in a regular oven. A Dutch oven used in camping should typically have a flat lid, usually with a rim around the edge, so hot coals or wood can be placed on top for more even heating. Other than these considerations, however, just about any type of sturdy Dutch oven can be used to make Dutch oven bread.
The actual bread itself can be quite easy to make. A simple Dutch oven bread recipe may only require flour, water, salt, and yeast to create the dough. Some recipes might also call for a small amount of sugar added to the yeast and water, which helps feed the yeast and produce gas within the dough more quickly. These ingredients are combined to make the dough, and allowed to rise. While some Dutch oven bread recipes may not require kneading of the dough, this often leads to longer rise times; kneading helps form gluten that can catch gas released by the yeast to help the dough rise more quickly.
Once the Dutch oven bread dough properly rises, it is then typically placed on a piece of parchment paper. The Dutch oven is often heated prior to baking, by placing it in a hot oven or on top of hot coals, and coals might be placed on the lid as well. The dough and the parchment are then placed in the Dutch oven, which is lidded, and allowed to bake for several hours. Steam trapped within the Dutch oven emulates the moist environment of professional bread ovens and helps produce a firm outer crust and soft bread within the finished loaf, which can be removed from the Dutch oven using the parchment paper.