Dutch Oven Bread (and a Giveaway!)

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My copy of “Twenty” by Michael Ruhlman recently arrived via Amazo n and no sooner had I settled in to admire the beautiful photographs, superb writing and sensible techniques, than it became obvious to me that I needed his previous book “Ratio”.  Amazon to the rescue once more and I had “Ratio” in my hands two days later.


As someone who owns a plethora of cookbooks, these books were a revelation to me.  They didn’t simply provide me with recipes; they gave me the keys to the kingdom…the techniques and ratios that are the foundation of great recipes.  These aren’t really cookbooks as much as they are cooking manuals.  I must admit, that appeals to the inner geek in me, because I like to know how and why things work.

One of the very first ratios he tackles in “Ratio” is bread dough.  I enjoy making bread, although I have only come to this enjoyment through a great deal of trial and error.  Many of my early bread making efforts ended up as croutons, bread crumbs or simply in the garbage.  I purchased every bread making book I could get my hands on, and eventually learned the proper techniques to end up with pretty good bread.

Here is what Michael has to say about bread dough:  Bread = 5 parts flour : 3 parts water (plus yeast & salt).  Brilliant!  His explanations of why this ratio works andthe mystery of yeast are both interesting and compelling, this reads almost like a novel.

One of the techniques he suggests for making bread is using the Dutch Oven Method, which is something I have never tried but sounded like an excellent experiment.  The reason for  using the dutch oven is to create enough moisture around the dough in the first half of the baking time to create that crispy crust I am always looking for.  The results were fabulous and I  expect this may become my “go-to” method for baking bread.  I was delighted to see this method expanded upon in “Twenty” with beautiful pictures to graphically illustrate each step.

Rather than post his recipe here, I encourage you to purchase your own copy of “Twenty” as you will find it to be an indispensable part of your cooking essentials.  And since I think that his earlier book “Ratio” is just as important, I am giving away a copy.  To enter, please leave a comment with your favorite bread making method before Friday, September 30 at 5:00 p.m.  A winner will be drawn at random and posted here on Saturday, October 1, 2011.


WINNER UPDATE:  The winner is #37 Biz who says:  “I love homemade bread – nothing like the smell of it coming out of the oven. I make this bread all the time to rave reviews from my family – so pick me so I can make more bread.  Thanks.”

Congratulations Biz!  I will contact you for your shipping address.

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45 Responses to “Dutch Oven Bread (and a Giveaway!)”

  1. Susie D.

    I use the Artisan bread in 5 method for my bread/pizza dough.
    I forgot about Ratio! When it first came out I thought it sounded perfect. Thanks for the reminder AND the chance!

  2. Amanda J.

    Currently I am loving the No Knead Method using sourdough starter in place of the yeast. Flour, water, salt, starter, time, dutch oven. viola! Beautiful, tangy bread.

  3. Mrs. Mordecai

    I’ve been doing a lot of Dutch-oven bread lately too, in combination with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I wonder what my normal whole-wheat yeast loaf would taste like cooked in a Dutch Oven? I’ve never tried. Oh, and BTW, please don’t enter me in the drawing as I already have a copy of Ratio. 🙂

  4. scott w

    My mothers method.
    I don’t know what its called or why she does what she does, but it works!

  5. Annie

    My mother loves to use a breadmaker, but I’ve always been a fan of doing everything by hand 🙂 Your Dutch Oven bread looks absolutely lovely!

  6. sheauen

    so far, irish soda bread is all i can manage so its my default fave method.

  7. Emily

    The no-knead method works like a charm for me! Warm sourdough-like bread in no time.
    I’ll have to invest in a dutch oven so I can try that method as well–your bread looks delicious!

  8. Noreen peters

    Beautiful bread. Crusty is my favorite type of bread. Good work!

  9. Cheri

    I am experimenting with many different techniques. I really like to use my KA mixer to knead dough to make the process easier. I do want to try sourdough and more gluten free breads for my husband.

  10. Caitlin

    I use a combo of Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (another book from the AB5MD folks) and a super work-intense challah recipe from my family. Two very different recipes but both deeeelicious. I love the Dutch oven method for cooking but for those who aren’t able to invest in the rather expensive DO itself, I highly recommend throwing a metal (NOT GLASS!) baking pan on the lower shelf of your oven before you turn it on to preheat. When the oven is preheated, put the loaf in the oven on a cookie sheet or (the better option) a pizza stone on the 2nd shelf and pour 1-2 cups of warm water in the metal pan and quickly shut the door. The steam will give the bread that great crust the same way a DO does!

  11. Solducky

    I always do the Dutch Oven method too. It is so easy and fast!

    soluckyducky at gmail dot com

  12. Judith

    I only know one way to make bread and that is the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I am excited about learning a new method.

  13. Rachael

    I have only recently started making bread and had been using a basic recipe I found online that included sugar and oil but was always disappointed by the softness of the crust… until this weekend when I went super-simple. 500g flour, 350ml water (not too far off the ratio, I guess), yeast and salt. Crispy crust and bread that keeps more than a day! ^_^

  14. Adriana

    me and one of my friends as well, follow the rustic bread recipe from ‘tartine bakery cookbook’ and it never fails! it’s long, but worth it!

  15. Jan

    My favorite method changes as I am always trying new things. I have been wanting to try the DO method and your bread looks so perfect that it urges me to give it a go. Poolish and sourdough are also on the list to try. I think knowing the reasoning/science behind the process makes me a much better baker/cook. I like Alton Brown for that reason. I use cooking to teach my kids mini science lessons and knowing the how and why of what we are doing carries over into new dishes we *experiment* with. I am off to check out those books right now!

  16. Teri

    I love baking bread by hand. I don’t even bother with a baking stone or anything. I’m pretty happy with using just a baking sheet. I haven’t tried it in my dutch oven yet even though I’m familiar with the method.

  17. Csilla

    I love the good ol’ method as kneading with my hands, using yeast and rye flour and adding in some nuts! But you had such an intriguing story about the Dutch method that I must try it too! Also, love the picture!

  18. Kate

    I don’t have a favorite method, but I generally use the traditional method for bread – proof, mix, rise, shape, rise, bake! Sometimes I even do things the hard way and knead by hand. I have to admit that laminated doughs are my favorite, but I’ve never made one from scratch.

  19. Nancy

    Jan – Personally I use a Le Creuset DO, but they are rather expensive. Costco has a nice on sale right now at a reasonable price.

  20. Sarah C.

    I am still in the experimental stages of learning to bake bread, so I am pretty excited about trying this new method!

  21. jessica w.

    my fav bread making method is to have my bread making do the dough, kneading, and rising process and then I just shape and bake in the oven.

  22. aJenniferOriginal

    My Mom taught me the Tassajara Bread Book method, which I used many times, always with good results. It involves making a sponge of the yeast, sugar, and a portion of the flour and letting that rise or bloom for about an hour. Then you add the rest of the flour and the salt and proceed in the traditional method (knead, rise, punch down, knead, rise, shape, rise, bake, WHEW!).

    I am interested in trying the no-knead method and using my Dutch Oven for the crispy crust though. Also, I’ve had my eye on that Ratio book for some time now and have yet to follow through on buying it!

  23. Sean

    I like to use my kitchenaid to do the work of the kneading, then finish it by hand. Let it rise in the work bowl, punch it down shape and reproof, and bake starting with the oven high with steam then lowering after the first few minutes to desired temperature.

  24. Ashely B.

    I really liked the dutch oven method when I tried it – made a great katamala olive bread that way.

    Lately though, I’ve been using the more traditional methods because I’m in Culinary School. It’s a lot more steps but really helps the fermentation process of the bread.

  25. Heather

    can’t wait to try the dutch oven recipe. Currently I’m obsessed with rolls
    I would really love to read this book!

  26. Sara B

    I like kneading by hand, but after 6 years of making all our bread, I finally purchased a Bosch mixer that does it for me (and does it well). I’ve not used the Dutch oven method, per se, but when I want a crusty round loaf, I mist it and cover with a large bowl – it does the same thing.

  27. Gabby V.

    I have to say that my boss this summer brought the No knead dutch oven bread to my attention and i haven’t turned back since. I’ve been playing around with different variation of it–white, whole wheat, white/wheat combo, etc. I love how simple and easy it is and the fact that it’s homemade and less likely to have preservatives and all the extra junk 🙂

  28. courtney

    my favorite bread making technique is a mystery! i have tried time and again to make yeast breads and mysteriously, sometimes they come out good . . . er . . . that might be a bit generous . . . more like “okay”. and then the rest of the time they come out terrible. luckily i have a boyfriend who will eat literally anything i make. that is all just to say that this sounds like the perfect book for me! especially since he’s moving away soon and i’ll be left with no one to eat my bread debacles.

  29. Carmen

    I either make homemade bread in a bread pan for sandwich bread, or I make artisan bread or something similar baked on a flat stone.

  30. Kaelan

    I use the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day method and am really happy with my results.

  31. Dave

    I’m kind of a novice baker, so I tend to take the easy route. Of course, I’d love these books to further my technique repetoire. Currently, my favorite baking technique is the always awesome beer bread technique! I love it and have a lot of fun playing with different flavors to complement the flavor of the beer…

  32. Christine Norris

    Bread Baker’s Apprentice focaccia, with the caramelized onions — ooh, soooo good!

  33. face_hole

    My favorite way is from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes… I made their basic boule, the rye bread, the portuguese corn bread, but my all time fave is the olive bread, wow! I doubled the olives and it’s just amazing when used as a pizza crust!

  34. Cathy

    For a long time, yeast and dough were not my friends. Then a dear friend and fellow bread-lover, to whom I’ll forever be grateful, introduced me to the Fine Cooking version of no-knead bread. A recipe that had my dough-fearing name all over it. Lucky for me, and lucky for my boyfriend’s Le Creuset dutch oven, which was rescued from neglect and the dark recesses of his kitchen for this higher purpose.

  35. Elin Porter

    Bread making is my savior on a bad day. This recipe is great! I love your ideas, comments and recipes. You’re also a good side kick to Bourdain! You must have patience of a saint!

  36. Jenny

    I love using Sourdough Starter and the No-Knead method. Simple. Easy. Delicous!

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