Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dutch Oven Hot Bread with Red Pepper and Garlic

It's been a long time since I did any bread.  A couple of weeks, in fact.  It's been even longer since I've done any kneaded bread.  So, today, I wanted to get my fingers in dough. 

At first, I got my sourdough start out, and refreshed it.  Usually if I want to use it, I'll have to set it out the night before, but I'd not decided on that, so I just thought I could wake it up and see.  I even crushed up a vitamin C tablet, and mixed that in, because it speeds yeast growth. In the end, it was quite frothy, but not soon enough, so I decided to use commercial yeast.

I wanted the bread to be different, too.  I looked through some of my bread books for a bread I hadn't tried yet, and most of the really cool ones were two-day recipes, so I abandoned that and decided to wing it.  I found a cool recipe online at The Fresh Loaf, but as usual, I tweaked it. 

What?  What?

I do that.

And to make matters worse, I decided on some flavorful enrichments, like crushed red pepper and minced garlic. 

The result was wonderful!  As always, I strongly recommend reading my Squidoo Lens on Breadmaking to grok my basic process for kneaded bread.  Here's my recipe:

Dutch Oven Hot Bread

~250 Cal/slice

12" shallow dutch oven

12 coals below
24-26 coals above

  • 3 tsp yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees, or just about shower hot)

  • 5-6 cups fresh bread flour (start with only 4-5)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dough enhancer (optional, but I like it)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp crushed dried red pepper

  • 1 pint buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 1 beaten egg for glaze
  • topping (I used kosher salt)

First, I added the yeast to the water, and set it aside to proof.  While that was happening, I was mincing the garlic and getting the red pepper ready.

Then I mixed all of the dry ingredients (in the next set).  I poured in the frothing yeast, the buttermilk, and the honey, and mixed it all up.  I dumped all of that out onto a floured countertop and started kneading.  Most recipes say to knead for 10 minutes.  I use the windowpane test spelled out in the Squidoo Lens, and I find it can take as much as double that, depending on how fresh and good the flour is.  Add more flour if it's too sticky.  You can actually add more water to the mix, too, simply by getting your hands wet and kneading more.  I had to do that today.

Once it's all kneaded, set it aside in an oiled bowl, covered, to rise.  Let it rise until it's "doubled in bulk", whatever that means.  For me, today, that meant about two hours.

When it was approaching the end of the raising, I started the coals.  As soon as I had white on a lot of the coals, I took the dutch oven lid out and set a lot of coals on it, about 25 or so.  I let the lid preheat like that.

Meanwhile, I did a quick oil spray of the inside of the dutch oven, and put the dough ball in it.  I beat up the egg, and washed it over the top, and sprinkled it with the salt.  I sliced it three times, to give it steam vents and to better allow for expansion.  I let that sit for another 20 minutes or so, to open up a bit, while the lid was preheating.

Then, I put out a ring of 12 coals, set the dutch oven on it, set the hot lid on top and marked the time.  After fifteen minutes, I turned the dutch oven and the lid, and poured some more fresh coals on the spare hot ones.  In another fifteen minutes, I turned it again, and added a few coals to the top and bottom.  I also opened up the lid and inserted the thermometer.

After 45 minutes total, it was done (internal temp of 190 F).  The crust was brown and soft, and the under crust was soft as well.  I pulled it out and set it on my cooling racks. I gave it quite a while before I sliced it, too.  Don't cut your bread too soon!  It's still cooking while it cools.

The taste was great.  The peppers gave it a little bite, and the garlic was more of a subtle addition.  You might want to add more as per your taste.  This bread is great by itself or with meat sandwiches.


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.
Mark's Other Blog Posts: name post, name post,


  1. I love the red pepper & garlic bread recipe. I have yet to make real bread in a dutch oven...this sounds like a great place to start. I am more of quick bread in cast iron skillet girl. Tweaked corn breads & traditional Irish soda bread (grandma didn't put raisins or caraway seeds in hers.) Love the fact that you TWEAK stuff... experimenting is my favorite way too cook!!!!

  2. My hat's off to you, too. I have NEVER been able to pull off a good soda bread. I don't know why. I always end up with a brick.

  3. Its all in the lack of kneading. Over time I've found that just a quick knead, a rough ball, throw it in a cast iron skillet and cut a cross in the top. I'll send you my recipe...just real basic...makes great toast with Irish butter & jam.

  4. I found this gem in a Fannie Farmer Baking Book:
    4 c flour
    1 1\2 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 c buttermilk(I always use milk & lemon juice)
    Preheat oven to 375
    Toss together dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk & stir briskly until it forms a rough, wet mass. Toss it out onto a very liberally floured surface(I don't care if the book says lightly...that just makes a mess!)Knead for 30 more. Make a 7-8 inch round out of it & throw it in an 8" cast iron skillet. Cut a large cross in the top about 1/4" deep. Bake 45-50 mins or until nicely browned & the X has spread open. Transfer to a rack to cool, then wrap in a slightly damp tea towel & let rest for about 8 hours. Like I said, real basic.

  5. I don't know how you get such beautiful loaves! Mine just never turn out quite right. I'm experimenting with a pizza bread right now that has real potential but I'm afraid it won't look nearly as nice.

  6. Thank you, Toni! I don't know that I can put a finger on what magically makes a loaf of bread work out. I've made a lot of them that didn't. Maybe that's the magic, right?

    There are two things that made this one, in particular, come out looking so nicely. One is the egg wash. That always gives bread a nice brown shine. The other aspect is careful management of the heat. I'm still in the process of learning that, so it's tough to quantify and explain.

    Suffice to say, I've done it where I've added too much top heat, and it ends up too dark, or even borderline burned. Or, the crust is too hard.

    I think that it's important to have your dutch oven be very hot at first, and then as it bakes, you can let the heat off just a little. Like, it's OK if it starts at 400, or even higher, but then as it goes along, you can allow it to go to even 350.

    I'm not really sure of those numbers, I'm just kinda spouting off thoughts I've been having lately.



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