Steam can really help make the bread! This is why Professional bread ovens are equipped with a steam injection, which adds steam in the right amounts at the right time. This is done to give the loaf a good rise with a tender crumb.
Steam brings so much to your bread but was never used with Dutch Ovens, for obvious reasons, until now! with the use of a simple 6″ cake pan, we can now add water to the Dutch Oven. In the past, I have incorporated cake pans with some of my recipes, usually for heavier loaves like berry etc., or just to make a more formed loaf for a nice sandwich slice. I would always spray the loaf with water just before covering up and placing in the oven, the result was a tender crumb. I then realized that I could use water with this device as it keeps the loaf elevated, and it worked! giving extra flavour, colour and a nice tender crust. We can use the cake pan as a mold for the bread or we can use just the pan, turned upside down to raise the dough high enough off the water while baking nicely in steam.
Here are some easy to follow instructions assuming you have already bought a 6″ cake pan, these can be picked up at almost any department store, or of course online. Heat your Dutch Oven in the oven at 550 for 45min – an hour, nice and hot. Use 50 gm or 1/4 cup of boiling water; too much steam can make your loaf tough. Pour your allotted water in Dutch Oven then place cake pan in upside down, watch not to get hands to close as your dealing with steam, it can burn! so use some gloves. Place your dough (use parchment paper) on the pan cover and return to oven. Leave the oven at 550 for 5 min. as the dough is held off the bottom enough from the pan that it won’t burn! water will also drop your temperature in the Dutch Oven quickly, at least initially. My recommendation is to leave the oven at 550 for 5-10 minutes tops, depending on loaf size then drop to 450 for 25-30 minutes before checking. Please make sure to take out after 25-30 minutes to check as steam will cook a lot faster. Baste with olive oil and return uncovered until loaf is golden brown, 5 minutes should be fine. This method makes a better loaf : )
You can use the entire cake mold for the prop. I generally do one of each; in this scenario, baste the cake mold with olive oil, then place the dough in the mold, no need for parchment paper. Using the retarded method, refrigerate overnight, it also makes it easier to score your dough. Now repeat the procedure above; place 50 ml’s or 1/4 cup of boiling water in the heated Dutch Oven. Place the cake pan with dough in the Dutch Oven, being careful not to burn hands from steam, cover and return to oven for 5 minutes at 550, then turn down to 425-450. when using a full cake pan it is important to turn down oven, giving your dough a chance to cook all the way through. So depending on your dough consistency and inclusions you may need to leave at 425 for 30-35 minutes, again, note that all ovens are a little different, so experiment and find out what works best. Checking the bread at 30-35 minutes if the bread is light brown or darker take the lid off & baste with olive oil then return tell golden brown 5- 10 minutes. Enjoy! this process makes a better loaf of bread 🙂