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Bittman bread without a dutch oven?

I don't have a LeCruset or other type of dutch oven.. I have lots of bowls, pots, pans etc.... Is there something I can use instead of a heavy dutch oven??? I've been wanting to try this recipie for over a year now..... and I really have no use fo a big dutch oven. We don't eat much stew or meat.

( I do have a crockpot that collects lots of dust in the basement. Would that work???)

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      1. Well, there are some things that will work if you have oven proof pans with some depth.
        1. Dropping the dough onto a preheated baking stone or baking plan and popping a large oven proof bowl or pan over the top as a cover (the edges of the inverted pan should contact the flat surface of the stone or baking pan)
        2. Building a foil "tent" that provides a pretty good fit over a cast iron fry pan, then preheating the pan and covering it with the "tent" after depositing the dough into it works too.
        Neither will seal as well as a dutch oven but the alternative techniques described will do a pretty good job.

        1. Before I had my dutch oven I used a stainless stockpot with lid. Just preheated as directed in oven.

          The bread is better in the dutch oven but I was very happy with the stock pot method as well.

          Good luck!

          1. For a more crackly crust, you can pre-heat a cast iron skillet or roasting pan on the floor of the oven, and add ice when you put in the bread. A baking stone would help too. My wife really likes the dutch oven technique, and does find that it slightly improves the results in some cases. But baking a lot -- getting the experience with working with the dough, shaping loaves, cooking times, etc. will help much more than having some specific equipment.

            If it's just the cost consideration, there are some enameled dutch ovens that are in the $35-45 range (ours is a Lodge). I think you'd be surprised how useful they are - we have one and actually use it quite frequently, though before having one, I would have been hard-pressed to find anything that I'd use it for.

            1. The original NYTimes recipe said that a pyrex bowl was an option. I don't recall the details, but I am sure that you can google this. Do note that he amended the amount of salt after that first article [increased.]

              And, just to make sure you are aware... this was never Bittman's recipe, but instead Bittman's article outlining Lahey's technique.

              Ah... here is the link to the article. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/din...

              3 Replies
              1. re: smtucker

                I used to use a pyrex casserole dish and it came out great. But, it was pointed out on this board that it might not be safe so I e-mailed the company and they agreed. First, they don't recommend heating their containers empty, especially at that temperature, and then the cold dough on the hot container is a double whammy. I didn't have problems but repeated use could weaken it and I've had to clean up an exploded Pyrex pan and don't ever want to do that again. Weeks later, I was still finding glass chunks.

                To the OP, I bought a Lodge dutch oven at Costco for under $30 for it. It's not a large one but perfect for the bread. I've also used a cheap airtight stockpot from Walmart or Target (probably Target because I don't go to Walmart for the most part). I've used my All Clad stockpot and discolored the lid. Aluminum foil layers on a bakeable pan also works, though much harder to deal with; as does baking on a sheet w/ a pot turned over it. And, no on the crockpot.

                1. re: chowser

                  chowser... thank you for the safety alert. I never used that method since I am lucky enough to have a hand-me-down Le Creuset. Sorry for the bad information....

                  1. re: smtucker

                    Using the pyrex is how I started and I think it made the best loaf of bread, even compared to the dutch oven. I'd made the rec many times before someone asked me about the safety issue so no need to apologize.

              2. i've done them many times in a cast iron skillet with a stock pot lid as the cover. heat both with the oven; remove lid in the middle. i also throw in ice on the bottom of the oven when the mood strikes me.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Emme

                  I used to throw ice/water in the bottom of the oven, but then, safety again, people here warned me against it because they'd cracked the glass and/or light. I've seen it done so many times on TV shows and I like the sizzle. Now I use a cast iron skillet but I'd be pretty sad if I lost that, too, because it's well seasoned.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I dedicate a cheap garage sale cast iron pan to this ice-cubes role. The ice cubes would definitely trash the seasoning on a finely seasoned pan in pretty short order.

                2. I have had OK results using a cast iron skillet with a stainless steel mixing bowl as a cover. Not as nice as all cast iron, but decent enough for the tradeoff of not having to invest in another piece of equipment.
                  If you do bite the bullet, I HIGHLY recommend Lodge's cast iron combo cooker rather than a regular cast dutch oven/pot. It's a skillet/pot combo that fits together, allowing you to deliver the unbaked loaf-baby into the shallow, skillet side and cover with the pot which is 100x easier. Plus you get two pieces of cookware for the same or less money. Amazon seems to have them cheapest at the moment.

                  1. Yes you can, but not in a crockpot, it doesn't get hot enough.
                    I do this all the time by covering cake pans with stainless steel bowls. Make dough, let stand and rise, form into 2 balls, plop into greased cake pans. Let stand and rise. Bake at 425-450. The crumb isn't quite as holey or waxy as with the dutch oven method, but it makes excellent bread and doesn't set off my ferbuggin smoke alarms, which the other method does.