Baking in a cold Dutch oven: artisan bread starts low and slow

Customer feedback is highly regarded at King Arthur Flour — really, it is. Suggestions aren’t brushed to the wayside but taken seriously. When new questions are posed, we put our baking brains to work finding the answer. So when readers began asking about bread baking in a cold Dutch oven, we started plotting. This topic deserves a full-on investigation!

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

In our initial exploration of bread baking in a Dutch oven, we investigated using a preheated pot to bake no-knead bread. The results of this method were impressive — loaves baked to crisp, crusty, golden-brown perfection.

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

Here are loaves made in a preheated pot (right) with those baked on a sheet pan (left). The side-by-side comparison is stark.

So if you’ve got a bread baking crock that can be preheated empty (like this Bread and Potato Pot), it’s certainly worth trying this method. But what about all the other Dutch ovens that can’t be preheated empty, for fear of damage?

This is when you might want to consider baking in a cold Dutch oven — the oven isn’t cold the entire time, of course, but just at the start. Putting the pot into a cold oven allows it to warm slowly as the oven heats up. It prevents any sort of thermal damage that might occur to the pot if it’s heated empty.

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

No oven mitts are needed here — the oven, pot, and dough inside are all room temperature.

Baking in a cold Dutch oven: how it works

Some of our bread recipes call for baking in a cold Dutch oven, but you can use this approach to bake almost any crusty bread. There are just a few tricks to achieving fantastic results: You’ve got to know your oven and watch your dough closely as it rises.

Start by preparing your dough as instructed in the recipe. (We like the No-Knead Crusty White Bread recipe for its ease and quintessential crusty bread texture.)

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

This Dutch oven made by Emile Henry is perfect for baking bread using a cold-oven start, but you can use almost any Dutch oven like this — though you’d definitely want to check the manufacturer’s instructions about preheating.

Let the dough rise once at room temperature and then shape into a boule, or whatever shape you like. Place the shaped dough into a lightly greased or parchment-lined Dutch oven, and let it rise for the second time.

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

When the dough is almost finished rising, cover the pot with a lid. When you poke the dough with your finger, the indent should fill in slowly — this is how you’ll know it’s ready to go into the oven.

Place the pot with the almost-fully-risen dough into a cold oven. Set the oven to the baking temperature called for in the recipe, and let it go! Your goal is to have the dough finish rising when the oven and pot reach the full temperature.

Once everything is fully preheated, start the baking time (usually about 25 to 35 minutes). If you want a nicely caramelized loaf, remove the lid when there are about 5 to 10 minutes left in the bake time to let the top brown.

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

The result? A decent loaf of homemade bread!

How baking in a cold Dutch oven compares

Baking in a cold Dutch oven doesn’t only protect the integrity of your pots, it also helps capture steam. Steam is essential to baking crispy loaves of bread — you can see the wonders it does in this post by my fellow blogger and bread baker, Barb.

But just how much steam does the cold-start method capture? Is it as effective as putting your risen dough right into a hot pot?

There’s only one way to find out!

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

The loaf that’s started in a cold oven looks pretty on its own. It has a nicely browned crust and the slashes open while it bakes, giving the loaf an artisan look.

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

But when it’s placed next to a loaf made in a preheated pot, it doesn’t look quite as glamorous or lofty. The dough made in the preheated pot has more oven spring, meaning it rose taller while it baked.

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

The loaf on the left was started in a cold oven, while the loaf on the right was baked in a preheated Bread and Potato Pot.

Even though the loaves look a bit different, the insides reveal a remarkably similar crumb structure. Both would make fantastic toast, I promise.

Cold start vs. preheated Dutch oven baking

I stand back, admiring my handiwork, when a member of our merchandising team, Rosie, enters the test kitchen. She has a keen eye for details when it comes to baking pans and other kitchen tools, and she wonders if the difference between the two loaves could be a result of the different shape of the pots.

The Bread and Potato Pot has a smaller, more spherical bottom. In comparison, the Dutch oven has a wider, flatter bottom, which allows the dough to spread and flatten slightly.

Determined to give the cold-start method a fair chance, I repeat the experiment making both loaves in the Bread and Potato Pot — baking one in a preheated pot and starting the other in a cold oven.

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

On the left is the loaf started in a cold oven, and on the right the loaf baked in a preheated pot.

And look what happens!

Both loaves are almost exactly the same height. I’m stunned when I lift the lid of the pot started in a cold oven, assuming the intensity of the preheated pot will have boosted the loaf to an unmatched height.

Lessons learned:

  1. Baking in a cold Dutch oven can produce loaves that are just as impressive looking as the preheated method.
  2. Dutch ovens with a smaller base are best when trying to make tall, lofty loaves.
  3. Always have a set of fresh eyes look over your results — thanks, Rosie!

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

Baking in a cold Dutch oven turns bread dough from cold to gold(en). Click To Tweet

Choosing your method

As my fellow blogger PJ likes to say, “There’s no baking police.” Neither method — starting in a cold oven, or starting in a preheated pot — is right or wrong, nor is one decidedly “better” than the other. We encourage you to use the approach that works best with your equipment and taste preferences.

Baking in a cold Dutch oven via @kingarthurflour

Time to choose your bread-baking crock, and set the oven. You’ll soon be rewarded with alluring loaves of homemade bread. There’s nothing better than that!

What’s your favorite bread-baking method? Are there other techniques you’d like to see us explore? Let us know in comments, below.

Thanks to fellow employee-owner Seann Cram for taking the photos for this blog post.

Kye Ameden

Kye Ameden grew up in Fairlee, Vermont and has always had a love of food, farms, and family. After graduating from St. Lawrence University, she became an employee-owner at King Arthur Flour and is a proud member of the Digital Engagement Team.


    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      The Dutch oven that’s pictured here is a 4.2 quart size, made by Emile Henry. You can view more details on the product page here. If it’s the Potato Pot you’re interested in, the full dimensions are listed here. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  1. Dziadziu

    I tried the cold Dutch oven technique only once and it was a flop BUT it is possible the dough was over proofed. I’ll have to try again. Getting a boule into a hot pot is no fun either. The cold pot method is definitely the way to go as long as the results are the same.

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Over-proofing is definitely an enemy here, so be sure you watch your dough closely as it rises. Also feel encouraged to give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253) so we can hear more details about what recipe you’re using and what the final loaf looked like. We can help! Kye@KAF

  2. sandy

    I have long used the cold start method and it works well for me and, as you show above, the results are similar to the pre-heated method.
    I like the cold start for one very important reason. I am 68 and not as strong as I used to be (hard to admit that but it is true). With the pre-heated method pulling the pre-heated really hot, heavy dutch oven out of the oven was very scary. I was always afraid I would drop it. Then getting the really hot dutch oven back into the oven after I put the dough in was also challenging. Then I had to deal with the hot heavy pot one more time… coming out of the oven when the bread was done. With the cold start method I get the same results and I only have to deal with a hot pot once – when the bread is done. For me, it is so much easier to lift and move a cold pot than a hot one. There is also a lot of discussion on some of the internet bread baking sites about energy conservation and saving energy by using the cold start method. However, I like it because I am not dealing with the hot pot three times to bake my bread. Thanks for keeping an open mind about this one. This is a good post.

    1. maureen

      Yup. Same here! Too scary. Too hot! So what i do now is I line cold pot with parchment, generously. Huge peice so that ‘tabs’ are protruding. Then, I remove the ‘formed’ parchment, and when dough is done rising in basket, i cover with the parchment, flip over the entirety into cold pot. Bake w lid on for 45 mins [set to 480 seems to work with this oven], carefully remove hot lid; bake another 20 to 25 mins, epending upon how dark/crisp your family prefers. I turn off oven, open it and carefully pull out rack, and allow bread to sit, still in pot, still on rack, until pot has cooled considerably. thought it might make it soggy, but turned out fine. Recently, i figured out that if i am very careful, i can use the protruding bits of the the parchment and lift out entirety using parchment as a sling, from the hot pot. If you are too quick, the ‘tabs’ will crumble off, so care is required. then i let it cool on cooling rack for at least 20 mins.
      The results with this ‘safer’ workaround seem identical. super crisp crust, nice rise, nice crumb. [like everyone, sometimes i’ve over-proofed, or my sourdough starter was a tad slack or whatever ….but we don’t mind having a more robust loaf here and there!]

  3. Ed

    Having burned myself in the past getting dough into a hot pot for no-knead bread, this is a safety revelation. Thanks!

    1. Bette I

      Hey! I am going to try the cold pot method, it sounds much safer to me. Maureen’s way sounds the perfect way to bake a great crusty loaf.

  4. KLin

    Very useful post, as always.
    I’d love to see a blog post about using different percentages of whole grain flour in baguettes, ciabatta and other artisan breads. Since we eat some form of French bread each night, I try to get as much whole grain in the loaf as possible but I’ve found I lose the light texture and “hole-i-ness” of the bread when I raise the level of whole grains (usually a small amount of rye flour plus white whole wheat) above 25% of the total flour.
    With appreciation and thanks for all you do!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for the suggestion, Kerry! We, too, are always interested in finding new ways to work whole grains into our baking. So much so that we’ve written a whole online guide about it, which you can find here. Towards the bottom of the guide, you’ll find links to our blog series about incorporating whole wheat. While we don’t yet have an article specifically about artisan breads, you might be especially interested in the post about yeast breads, rolls, and pizza. We think you’ll enjoy taking a read through it for the details, but in short, we find much the same as you: that incorporating whole wheat into yeast breads can be both delicious and nutritious, but beyond a certain point, it does change the texture and the rise. Mollie@KAF

    2. Nene Goose

      I have been using the following adaptation for “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” that I believe I picked up from the KF Flour site some time ago. It has the taste of a French Country baguette and may be closer to KLin’s expectations.

      5-1/2 c. white flour
      1/2 c. rye flour
      1/2 c. whole wheat flour
      1/4 c. golden flax seed meal
      1 t. ground caraway seed
      1-1/2 T. granular yeast
      3 c. lukewarm water
      Form into a shaggy dough, make a slight indentation into the middle of the dough and add 1 T. salt. Moisten the salt with 1 T. water.
      Let hydrolize–undisturbed–for 20 minutes. After that time, stir well until everything is combined, cover and chill at least overnight.

    3. KLin

      Thank you for these useful references and to Kye for the link to the Harvest Grains Ciabatta recipe. I made it this weekend and it was delicious! I made one tiny tweak, substituting 25 grams of rye flour for part of the white whole wheat.

      Thanks to Nene Goose for the French Country baguette recipe. It looks very promising and I’ll be making it next!

  5. JAZ

    I love this post and this new method. I’m short and my oven is a little high fir me when I’m dealing with a heavy roast in heavy roaster, so I’ve stayed away from making bread in a hot pot. Now I’m going to give this a try. I’m worried about the over proofing because I’m in AZ and my kitchen is warm even in “winter”. But I’ll just plan on working in the kitchen on a project and keep an eye on it. Thanks again for another great post.

    1. Sue

      JAZ, try using less yeast. Less yeast will take longer to double (or whatever the requirement is).

  6. omar alvarez

    I prefer using my regular Cast Iron D O when Baking Bread, also using charcoal as the main fuel source….

  7. Karen. Clement

    I use the cold start method for gluten free bread making now after using some of Nicole Hunn’s recipes. A cold start for gluten free yeast breads is a dream come true. There are recipes using a dutch oven as well, and I just happen to have a smaller one. I will definitely try this as well. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Karen B

    I enjoyed this so much. I did destroy a dutch oven with the 500 degree empty pan and then adding dough so I just haven’t made again. Today is the day. After church I am making this bread. Thank you so much for doing this. I enjoyed it all. I am always at this site to help with my baking. Made crust this morning to make hand-pies for the rest of the week lunches. They are always perfect.

  9. Regina

    It took me awhile to experiment and get it right, but the easiest way I bake a loaf of bread is leaving the dough already molded and scored inside a slighted oiled, closed, Dutch oven (Le Creuzet cast iron or ceramic) for the last 1 1/2h rise. After heating the (electric) oven to 425F, I insert the cold Dutch oven with the dough (top on) in the oven. Let it bake for 15-18 minutes, and lower the temperature to 375F. Let it bake on 375F for 35 minutes. Take off the top and continue baking at 375F for 15-18 minutes. It works very well for me. When using clay pots (cold wet pot and cold oven) I use parchment paper and do the same thing, start counting time when the temperature achieves 425F. You can see the results in my Instagram @regina_north

  10. LindaK

    I have an old Propane gas stove that takes about 20-30 minutes to reach a 350 temp. Once there, however, it’s pretty accurate and stays at set temp. Any experiences with or downside to using the cold-oven method with an oven that takes this long to pre-heat?

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Good question, Linda. With ovens that take longer to preheat, there’s more of a chance that the exterior of the bread will burn before the center has reached the full temperature. To prevent this from happening, be sure to use a lidded or covered baker that’s made from a thick, well-insulated material. You can also put the pot on a baking sheet before it goes into the oven as well. If possible, test the internal temperature of the loaf with an oven thermometer before removing it from the oven to ensure it’s baked properly. (Look for at least 190°F.) Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  11. Cheryly

    I have much more success baking my bread in a hot Dutch oven. I put parchment paper in the bowl for the last rise. When ready to bake, I just take the lid off & drop the loaf in with the parchment paper. Put the lid back on. Equally as easy to remove loaf to cooling rack on parchment.

  12. Cecilia freeman

    Hope everyone knows if your dough is over proofed you can deflate it and reform the loaf and let it rise again. I have done this when my dough rose much faster than expected and when I got busy with other tasks and the dough over proofed
    Of course you need to do this before putting the bread into the oven.

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Elizabeth, if you can bake in your enameled cast iron (up to 450 degrees F), then this cold start method will work. Just double check the manufacturer’s recommended maximum temperature before beginning. (And make sure the handle on the lid is oven-safe too!). Kye@KAF

  13. Nancy Beck

    I’ve been baking bread in the preheated Dutch oven. The one necessary ingredient is King Arthur Bread Flour. No other flour works as well or tastes as great. Thank you!

  14. Francesco Martiradonna

    I wish this recipe was printable, I have had some Italian recipes with pictures that were printable.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Francesco, we’re got great news. The recipe for the No-Knead Crusty White Bread is printable! You can click here to see a printer-friendly version. The full article explaining the cold start technique isn’t printable, but you could copy and paste the text you’d like print into a document if you like. Hope that helps! Kye@KAF

  15. Carol Jeffery

    My Dutch Oven is not heat resistant to the temperature required for the no-knead bread (only safe to about 350 F). I have a cast iron skillet that I think would be ideal but would it be too shallow?

    I’d like to try this method.

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      We love baking in a cast iron, Carol, but part of the reason why this method works so well is because the lid on a Dutch oven helps capture steam. The steam is key to creating the crispy crust and lofty rise that makes this method so appealing. You’re welcome to try baking your bread at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time to see if that gets you the results you’re looking for; just be sure to test the internal temperature for doneness. Otherwise, you might want to invest in a sturdy Dutch oven that can get very hot. It’s a worthwhile investment that you’ll end up using for cooking and baking alike! Kye@KAF

    2. Karin

      To get steam, I preheat a roasting pan on lowest rack. Immediately after placing the dough into the oven I add boiling water to the roasting pan and close the door quickly! It provides a generous amount of steam for the first part of baking. I also give my loaf a fine spritz of water to just moisten. I also preheat (don’t forget to turn it down once the loaves are in!) my oven 25 degrees hotter because I know opening the door, sliding dough onto a stone and adding water, or removing & replacing a dutch oven sucks out the heat. Making sure my loaves had the right temp for oven spring and high moisture improved the crust on my Italian and French loaves tremendously.

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Winner, winner! Mike, you’ve guessed what the next article in this series of baking artisan bread is going to focus on: how to bake bread dough in the cloche, and how the results compare to the two other methods we’ve explored thus far. While we don’t have definitive answers for you at this point, we encourage you to experiment using the basic findings here to help guide you. The Emile Henry Cloche can also be preheated empty, so you could give that a try as well to see if you like the loaf it produces. One thing to keep in mind: be sure you shape your dough tightly into a boule since the cloche doesn’t have any sides to support the dough as it rises upwards. Please feel free to share your results with us, and look for that article in the next few months. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  16. Mary

    I found the comments from Sandy and Maureen very helpful because I too am “of a certain age” and look for ways to keep on baking knowing I have a few restrictions. May I suggest, if it has not already been done, posting a blog article on strategies like the ones they suggested. I bet there are a lot of us out there with some great ideas to continue sharing.

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Mary, thanks for your feedback. It sounds like both Sandy and Maureen use the cold start method that’s explained in this article here–the risen dough and Dutch oven are put into a cold oven before it’s turned on. The slight variation to use parchment paper that Maureen suggested seems both intriguing and helpful, especially when trying to remove the baked bread from the pot. If it helps, you could also simply put a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the Dutch oven before the dough is added and left to rise. This way you’ll be able to use the edges of parchment paper that protrude from underneath the loaf to lift it out of the pot, kind of like this. We hope that helps! Kye@KAF

  17. Eve

    Could you please post pictures of the exterior side-by-side comparison, not just the interior? The outside crust color makes a big difference in flavor development too, not just the rise. It’s hard to see how they compare when you just show a tiny bit of the loaf tops in the interior comparison picture.

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Eve, thanks for your question. We didn’t include a photo of the the two loaves’ exteriors because they looked practically identical; the depth of color of the crust was very similar. You can see a side-by-side comparison of cold start method vs. the preheated method in the section called “How baking in a cold Dutch oven compares.” It’s the second photo in that section. We hope that helps! Kye@KAF

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Yes, the cold start method works fabulously with a bread cloche. In fact, our recipe for Crusty Cloche Bread actually calls for starting in a cold oven. Give it a shot; we think you’ll like the results! Kye@KAF

  18. equus_peduus

    I’ve been making no-knead bread in my Le Creuset Dutch oven for a while now. I think it’s probably more or less the NYT recipe, but not sure – I memorized it a long time ago so my quantities might have shifted over time!. Normally, I let it rise in the bowl for a while (usually 10-12h), then turn it out onto a floured surface and coat it in flour, after a bit, preheat the Dutch oven, then plop the dough into the hot pot and bake it. It rarely sticks more than in one or two tiny spots.

    Having seen this post, I tried it today, but instead of letting the second rise be on the counter, I did in the pot (I did make sure it was well-coated with flour). It stuck like crazy. It may have over-risen (usually it only gets 30-60min for the second rise) but today it got closer to 2 hours as I had to be out of the house for a bit and wanted to bake as soon as I got home.

    Is the problem that the flour coating the dough absorbed moisture from the dough, so therefore it stuck, or with the over-long time it sat in the pot, or with the method itself? I don’t usually use parchment paper and have no sticking problems, but I did notice as I read the article that you recommended using paper (I chose not to since I don’t usually).

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi there bread baker, you can definitely let the dough rise right in the pot; we actually recommend doing just that so you don’t have to worry about transferring the dough when it’s fully-risen and quite delicate. To ensure the bread doesn’t stick, we recommend seasoning your pan well before you begin. Try heating up the pot in the oven slightly and then rubbing a neutral-flavored vegetable oil on all the interior surfaces with a paper towel. Let it cool, and then coat it in oil again before adding a sprinkle of semolina flour or cornmeal. These slightly coarse ingredients help create a barrier between the pot and the dough, which will prevent it from sticking. We hope these tips help! Kye@KAF

    2. equus_peduus

      The seasoning will work with the enameled pot? I’ve mostly only heard of doing that with cast iron.

      I’ll give it a try next time, thanks 🙂

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      Most enameled or ceramic pots don’t need to be seasoned, but since you had such trouble with your dough sticking, it won’t hurt to add a layer of oil to the inside. Give it a try, and we hope it helps! Kye@KAF

  19. Erik

    I noticed many were concerned about the safety issue of getting dough into the hot dutch oven (generally assuming we are talking about the no-knead bread). Not only can it be a little dangerous, but it’s pretty tough to get a fairly slack dough into the pot without it sticking to whatever it was on previously as all but the most ridiculous amounts of flour end up hydrating. A NYT reader recommended placing the dough on a piece of parchment to proof and then dropping the parchment and dough into the pot. I tried this and it works great. There was no difference in the outcome of the loaf, but much easier to get the loaf in and out of the pot. I highly endorse this plan.

    1. Tiffany

      I also do this parchment paper dough transfer as well and in addition I some Ove Gloves (from Walgreens or Amazon dot com) that protect me from the hot pot. Ove Gloves are protective to 500 deg. My pot lid did not have a knob to take the heat so I wrapped it three times in heavy duty aluminum foil. I’m heating the enameled pot empty of dough at 450 deg for 30 min then after the 30 min reduce heat to 430 put the dough in using the parchment paper and Ove Gloves for protection and bake for exactly 52 min. Comes out exactly the same no matter what I do. By the way, the dough is cold when it goes into the baking pot and as well has been fermenting in my fridge for 48 hrs (so it’ll be Gluten Free and Phytic Acid Free). It’s Sourdough bread by the way.

  20. Bill M

    This is interesting since putting the dough in those hot DO’s is intimidating. 1. I am not clear what you mean by “Once everything is fully preheated, start the baking time”. DO you mean you are checking temps of the DO? Or just when the oven is pre-heated? or something else. 2. Also, what about dough that is proofed overnight in the refrigerator?

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Bill, good questions. Once the oven is preheated, start the bake time. (By “everything,” we meant that the pot will also have reached the full temperature.) If your dough is proofed overnight in the fridge, you might want to let it rise on a piece of parchment paper in a bowl so you can easily transfer it to a room-temperature Dutch oven the next morning. When it’s fully risen, you lift it using the parchment paper and place it in the Dutch oven, make your slashes, put the lid on the pot, and put it into a cold oven. Then you can follow the method as described here. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  21. Ann Marie Noone

    I do my second rise in a pot lined with parchment. I preheat my Dutch oven, when it is heated I lift the parchment lined dough out of the first pot, drop it in the hot pot. I never burn myself, it’s very easy. Beautiful bread every time.

  22. Anna Turley, Cubmaster

    When I first saw the article, I thought you were going to use an outdoor Dutch oven that uses BBQ coals. Although I love what you have done, and I plan to try it as is, I camp a lot and wonder if you could let us know how to do it at camp. Won’t that make all the other campers jealous!

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      As a person who grew up going to (and then working at) summer camp, I understand your desire to bake some fantastic bread over a campfire. The best way to do this is to get your fire nice and hot and then let it create some coals. Carefully bury your cast iron Dutch oven (with the fully risen dough inside) in the coals, pushing them up the sides and placing some on top of the lid as best you can. The bake time will vary drastically based on how hot the coals are and how well covered the Dutch oven is. The best way to gauge baking time is to use an infrared thermometer to take the temperature of the pot (if it’s around 400-425°F, start checking around 30-40 minutes), and/or an instant read thermometer that can be inserted into the loaves to test for doneness. It should reach at least 190°F when it has finished baking. It takes a bit of guesswork, but it’s worth the final result! Kye@KAF

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Ann, most of the Le Creuset cast iron Dutch ovens are safe up to 500°F, so this method will work to bake fantastic loaves of bread. (Double check with the manufacturer if you’re unsure of the maximum oven-safe temperature for the specific product you have.) To make crispy, crusty loaves, 450°F is usually a great temperature to bake at, so your Le Cresuet should be well-suited to this method. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  23. Linda Grotefendt

    I have started using a cast iron combo pot. I preheat it. But you place the loaf on the shallow side and cover it with the deep side. It words beautifully.

  24. Melanie

    Thanks for this post, I have been using the hot pot method but as others have mentioned getting the hot pots in and out is a struggle. One question I have is, why not start cold pot in hot oven, is the only way to develop the steam is to let it finish the rise as the oven heats? Or is it concerns about burning outside while inside atays underdone?

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Melanie, your baking instincts are right on. If you put the cold pot with the fully risen dough into a hot oven, you’ll end up with a nice loaf of bread, but it won’t receive the burst of steam that’s responsible for making such impressive, crispy crust. You can give it a try to see if you like the results, but we think you’ll be more satisfied if you start the loaf in a cold oven or use the preheated pot method. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    2. Melanie

      Thanks for the reply. I tried the cold dutch oven tonight and it went well. I did notice the loaf exploded quite a bit despite me having scored the loaf. Did I perhaps not let it rise enough before putting it in the oven? Or too much?

    3. Kye Ameden, post author

      It sounds like your loaf was slightly underproofed. Try letting it rise for about 20 minutes longer before starting it in a cold oven. The cold oven start works well but it does take a few trials to get the timing just right. Don’t give up; it sounds like you’re close! Kye@KAF

    4. James

      I have trouble understanding how having everything start cold produces more steam than putting a cold dutch oven into a pre-heated oven? Also, starting baking time when the oven has reached temp does not mean the dutch oven will also be at temp since it takes longer for the dutch oven to match the oven temp.

    5. The Baker's Hotline

      James, we haven’t found that starting the bread in a cold oven necessarily makes more steam than using the pre-heated pot method, but it certainly does produce comparable results. We’re glad you mentioned that it’s helpful to let the oven preheat for a bit after the preheat signal goes off — whether you’re pre-heating a Dutch oven or not, we’ve found that ovens tend to be a little bit over-eager in declaring their readiness. It sounds like you, James, might be a proponent of the pre-heated method, and we encourage you to embrace that approach if that’s what works best for your oven and equipment. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  25. ShelleyB

    I use a cast iron covered 5qt pan and have had success both preheating and not. I also use parchment for ease putting into the pan with less disturbing and for ease in removing. Thank you for trying the various ways as this is the only way to truly make a comparison. Homemade bread is the best. #loveKingArthurFlour

  26. Karleen Wolfe

    Looks and sounds good. I plan to try this with a Le Creuset pot. I have several sizes–can you recommend which diameter works best? Love everything King Arthur, BTW. I use your flours and it’s great when I find a store that carries a wide range. Wish we had a KA store here in Seattle!

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Karleen, a Dutch oven with a 8″ to 9″ diameter works nicely to bake a 2 pound loaf of bread. (Anything that has a 3.5 to 4 quart capacity is typically in this range.) Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  27. Tom

    The parchment paper will be much stronger to lift bread out if one just folds the “tabs” under the lid while baking – lid on – the last 10 or so minutes – lid off – won’t degrade the paper that much….

  28. Muhammad Ali Al Harazy

    In addition to coating the baking pot with oil after heating it and after it cools down; does a water pan for steam help reduce the sticking problem and would the steam be kept for the whole baking time?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there fellow bread baker, it’s not necessary to include a water pan in the oven while the bread bakes. The steam will be captured inside the Dutch oven since the lid will be on the pot. If you’re worried about sticking, the best thing you can do is season your pot with a bit of oil and sprinkle some semolina or cornmeal in the bottom of the pan before adding the dough. Either that, or use parchment paper to line your pot. Both approaches work well. Good luck! Kye@KAF

  29. Muhammad Ali Al Harazy

    Thank you for your prompt response. My biggest challenge is sticking of sides not the bottom. I tried oil coating but it tends to dry up. I tried the baking paper but it tends to get wet and get stuck to the bread. I want to use the next time around all the possible solutions simultaneously. I will oil the sides, dust them, oil a baking paper, dust the baking paper and put a water pan for at least the later part of the baking for coloring the top. I will let you know. Best Regards.

  30. Dorse

    I too really love the no knead bread method and have always used the pre heated pot method, with great success. I use my Le Cruset and a clay baker. I have never “soaked” the clay baker b/c I’m concerned it will crack if I place the soaked clay baker in a 450 degree oven. The bread I’ve baked in the clay, unsoaked baker turns out beautifully, but wondered if the steam from the soaked pan might take the bread to another level. Thanks for any help with my question.

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Dorse, we wouldn’t want you to risk breaking your clay baker. We’d only recommend soaking before baking if that’s something that the manufacturer recommends doing with the piece. If you’re unsure, it’s best to play it safe and stick with a method like the cold oven start shown here. If you’re intrigued by baking with steam, see if you can get your hands on a cast iron Dutch oven — they’re practically indestructible! Good luck. Kye@KAF

  31. Christina Richardson

    I love this approach. I am a huge dutch oven fan. I sadly do not have any Emile Henry pots yet. I do have a family of Le Creuset. I made the KA No Knead harvest bread today and it stuck really awful to the pot. Is there a way to prevent the bread from sticking? I oiled the pot well and also used cornmeal as recommended to dust the pan. Ideas? Thoughts? Thank you for all that you do in the test kitchen to help us.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Parchment paper works wonders, Christina. Line the bottom with parchment and sprinkle with semolina flour for a frustration-free loaf removal. Annabelle@KAF

  32. Christina Richardson

    This is a great article! Thank you! I love this approach. I am a huge dutch oven fan. I sadly do not have any Emile Henry pots yet. I do have a family of Le Creuset. I made the KA No Knead harvest bread today and it stuck really awful to the pot. Is there a way to prevent the bread from sticking? I oiled the pot well and also used cornmeal as recommended to dust the pan. Ideas? Thoughts? Thank you for all that you do in the test kitchen to help us.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      No worries, Christina. Parchment to the rescue! Using parchment paper to line the pan, either cutting it to fit the bottom or a larger parchment sling will make removing it infinitely easier. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great question, Laurel. Once the dough is almost all the way risen and you’re about to pop it in the oven, that will be the ideal time to score it. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

    2. Joanne

      Thank you for this question! I had the same question and scrolled through the entire thread to find it (the last answered question just one day ago)!!

  33. Isabel

    I have a lodge cast iron Dutch oven and an enamel one. Both say that you can’t pre heat empty. How accurate is this ?


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Isabel. We’d recommend following the instructions that come with your pans to sure they aren’t damaged. You may be able to find additional information on the website of the brand that makes them, we just want your kitchenware to stay in good shape! Annabelle@KAF

  34. Gary S.

    I’m new to bread baking. I’ve been working on a multigrain dutch oven bread recipe. I’m using Robin Hood Multigrain Flour and a bake pot handed down to me from my mother.
    The best results I’ve had in 10 loaves or more just occurred from using a cold oven and a cold bake pot. So glad to have read this article.

  35. ashleyinjp

    This is such a great suggestion! Like so many commenters, I dislike handling an awkward hot dutch oven. I tried this method last week, and while the loaf tasted wonderful, it had one aesthetic quirk I have a question about:

    I used the Jim Lahey no-knead sourdough recipe, which I’ve used a few times previously. In the past, I proofed the dough in a banneton, then flipped it into the heated dutch oven, at which point I’d slash it quickly with a lame, give it a quick spray of water, pop the top back on the dutch oven, and put it in the oven.
    The bread would not retain the banneton marks quite as well as the Extra Tangy Sourdough does, but otherwise it would look similar.

    With the cold start, I cross slashed the dough with a lame, then & re-cut the slashes even deeper with a knife, expecting that the slashes made before the final proof might “mend” more than slashes made right before baking. I also didn’t spray any extra water on it.

    The final product had no “valleys” to the slashes at all– the cross slash had filled in, and looked it looked like the dough had only superficial scratches. The dough had absolutely ballooned, and the top was perfectly rounded, with the cross mark looking like it had only been etched on the surface.

    Have you had this happen? When you use the cold-oven start, do you slash the dough at the beginning?

    Thanks for the help!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Ashley, it sounds like you’re in the pursuit of perfect homemade bread, which we love to hear! If your slashes are filling in to the degree you’ve described, it likely means that your dough wasn’t proofed properly. (Depending on whether you’re using a cold start or pre-heated method, it may need to be proofed for a shorter amount of time.) Try adjusting the final proof next time and use this same method again; we think you’ll see a marked improvement in how prominent the slashes turn out to be. Good luck, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It’s our pleasure to help, Ashley. We had the chance to share your baking experience with a few of our seasoned bread bakers to see if we had any additional thoughts or suggestions to offer you. One baker who knows both the cold start and pre-heated oven method well pointed out that achieving distinctive slashes and high-rising ears can be more difficult using the cold start method. Not only do you have to judge how much longer the bread will rise before the oven comes to temperature, but also how deep to make the cuts and when to remove the lid to create just the right amount of steam. You might want to consider simply putting your dough into a fully pre-heated oven to reduce some of the guesswork here. Plus, the sudden blast of heat will also encourage more oven spring and thereby open up the slashes even more. She suggested that if you give this a try, err on the side of under-proofing your dough. That way the dough will have enough energy to split the scores and make a distinctively beautiful ear. We hope this helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

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