Monday, January 28, 2013

Dutch Oven Broth Bread

This bread started out as a query, as me wondering, “What if...?”  I had been planning and baking for my breads party/photoshoot for several days, and my mind was locked in bread mode.  I was thinking, living, breathing nothing but breads.

I wondered, “What would happen if I used some chicken broth instead of water in a bread?”  I started to ponder that thought for a while, then I went to that font of all knowledge and wisdom, the Internet.  Sadly, what I had originally believed was a fresh and unique idea was, in fact, pretty common.  I found a number of descriptions and recipes.

In the end, I went back through my own recipes and decided just to try to substitute it part for part.  But then, I thought about it, and realized that there would be salt in the broth, and some oil as well, so I lessened or eliminated those ingredients.   I wasn’t sure if the broth would be too heavy or too damp.  But I thought I’d give it a try!

I wasn’t sure what to call it.  I thought about “Chicken Bread”, but that sounded too corny.  My wife came to my rescue, and dubbed it “Broth Bread”!  Here it is:

Dutch Oven Broth Bread

12” Dutch Ovens
12-14 coals below
18-22 coals above

2 Cups poultry broth (110 degrees)
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Yeast
1 tsp salt
4-5 Cups fresh bread flour

The broth was from our Christmas turkey, and was frozen in 2-cup baggies.  I put one in a measuring cup and turned on the tap, running hot water over it.  It took a while to melt, and then to come up to a nice warm 110° or so.  I wasn’t in a hurry.  Microwaving it might have gotten it there sooner, but...

Once it was ready, I mixed in the sugar and the yeast.  I set that aside for another ten minutes or so, and let it foam up.  I was a bit concerned about any salt in the broth reacting with the yeast, but it turned out OK.

Then I sifted in the flour and added the table salt.  Remember that I usually start with a little less flour. I stirred it all up, then dumped it out onto the liberally floured countertop.  From here on out, I treated it pretty much like any other bread.  I kneaded until it developed a good gluten windowpane, then stretched the surface into a tight ball, and set it aside to rise.

It rose for an hour or two, getting doubled, and then I lit up some coals.  While those were turning white, I kneaded just a little more (two or three pushes, at the most) and restretched and reshaped it into a boule (ball) again.  I put this into the proofing basket.

Soon, the coals were all lit, and so I oiled the inside of the dutch oven, and set it out on the proper amount of coals, both below and above.  I let that preheat for an additional 15 minutes, then I brought out the bread.  I tipped it into the Dutch oven, then sliced the top.  Unfortunately, my knife wasn’t very sharp (always use razor blades) so it ended up tearing more than slashing.  Quickly, I put the lid on and marked the time.

After 15-20 minutes, I knocked the ash off the coals, rotated the Dutch oven and the lid, and lifted the lid to check on the progress, and to insert the thermometer.

After another 10-15 minutes, I checked, and it was past 200°, ready to come in.  After cooling on a rack, I was able to cut into it and taste it.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The chicken flavor was there,  but not prominent.  Very subtle.  It tasted great as a sandwich bread, and then, later, at the bread party, in the cheese fondue dip!

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Around the World in a Dutch Oven

As many of you know already, I've been very lucky to have been tapped by Cedar Fort publishers to make a series of four (possibly more) Dutch oven cookbooks!  Last Fall, I turned in the manuscript for the third book in the series, called "Around the World in a Dutch Oven".  It will be coming out in early April, but it's already available via pre-order from Amazon (the picture is the affiliate link).

I've been very excited about this, my third Dutch oven cookbook, because it represents some of my best and most challenging culinary work to date.  This one is kind of the opposite of the Black Pot for Beginners, which takes a new chef from ground zero to skilled black pot cook!  This book is for those that want a bit more of a challenge, and want to challenge themselves.

So, a few weeks ago, I did a big, long, day of cooking and the cover designer came out and shot pictures of the food I cooked.  I thought I'd share some of those pictures, along with some comments!

Greek Baklava

I really love baklava, and it's tricky to make in some ways, but it's not complex.  The only tricky part, really, is handling the Filo dough.  That also takes some real patience, because you have to layer it on, and butter each layer up.  That stuff is so thin, it takes time.

The spices are simple, too.  Just some cinnamon, brown sugar, and nuts.  Then some honey syrup over the top at the end.  In a Dutch oven, you do have to be a bit careful of the heat, because you can easily overbake the flaky dough sheets.  But it's great.

Here it is on a plate.  That mint leaf really sets it off, and adds some rich color to the display, I think.  It contrasts nicely against the white and brown.  I wish I knew more about plating and food photography.  Still, if you just cook it right, you're over half-way there, I think.  Food that's appetizing in the first place is going to photograph much better.  Although, as you'll see, a good photograph can even save some of the more messy of dishes.


I actually made the rice the night before.  You can't really see it in this particular picture, but I was really proud of the rice.  I've done it where it's turned out too moist and damp, and it almost ends up as a paste.  If you get the water absorbed just right, and then the vinegar sugar sauce as well, it will stick nicely together, but the individual grains of rice will still be separate and unique.

Brendon actually did the rolling and the slicing of these, while I was still doing the cooking, finishing up some other dishes.  He did this just as the photographers arrived, so that the rolls and pieces would look their freshest.  I think he did a pretty good job!  It tasted great, after the photographs, too!


This one proved to be quite a challenge.  I think it looks pretty good, but the crust wasn't as smooth and browned as the first time I did this years ago.

A coulibiac is a delicious salmon, rice, and tomato filling wrapped up in a pie crust exterior.  When it's done right, it really looks impressive!  I don't think this one was particularly BAD, I just wish it had turned out smoother.  The taste was amazing, though.  The crust was light and flaky, and the filling had the tang of tomato and lemon intermingled with the sweet flakes of the salmon.  I really like this dish.


This picture makes me laugh.  The lasagne itself finished cooking too early, and there was still quite a bit of time before the crew was set to arrive and shoot pictures.  So, I just put a few coals on the lid to keep it warm.  It was a kind of chilly winter day, and I didn't want it to cool off.

Well, by the time they got there and started shooting pictures, the top crust of cheese was just overdone.  It was so brown and wrinkly, it was really tough to look at.  I was embarrassed to show it, but they took pictures anyway.  When I served it up, it was dry and hard to eat.  But, the photographer still managed to get some very complimentary photos.

Well, those are some of the cover shots for the next Dutch oven cookbook, "Around the World in the Dutch Oven"!  Check it out!

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Focaccia in the Oval Roaster Dutch Oven

This Dutch oven recipe is included in my Dutch oven cookbook, "Dutch Oven Breads"

It was quite a fight to bring this bread to pass.  First of all, it’s an “indirect” bread, meaning that it requires a preferment rise before the regular rise.  That means it’s at least a two-day project to do it right.

Then, the next day, it takes another four hours of mixing, kneading, rising, and baking.  It’s a long process.

On Saturday night, I made the “poolish”, which is a very wet gloppy goo, and let it raise overnight in the fridge.  On Sunday, when I went to work on it, I mixed the full dough (which is still quite wet), and while it was rising, my dogs got to it and made off with over half the dough.  I was NOT happy.

It wasn’t until the following Friday and Saturday that I would have the proper time available for the whole process.  Fortunately, this time it worked.

Focaccia is a flat rustic bread.  That means it comes from a very wet dough.  Ciabatta is another one like it.  It turns out flat, and often carries toppings.  I wondered, as I was making it, if it was a fore-runner of pizza, or maybe a descendant...

Focaccia in the Oval Roaster

25 coals below
35 coals above

The Poolish

2 1/2 Cups Unbleached Bread Flour
1 1/2 Cups Water, warm
1/2 tsp yeast

The Bread

2 1/2 Cups Unbleached Bread Flour, with more for the tabletop and working
2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp yeast
6 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 Cup water, ~110°
3 Cups Poolish

The Herb Oil

2 Cups olive oil, warmed
1/2 Cup various dried herbs, mixed
rosemary, others
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 Tbsp black pepper, ground

The Toppings

Anything you want!  I used:
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 roma tomato, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
4-6 oz of a blend of italian cheeses: mozarella, asiago, parmesan

I started the night before baking, mixing the poolish.  Of all the processes, it was probably the easiest.  I simply mixed the three ingredients thoroughly, overmixed it, really, then covered it in plastic and set it aside for an hour or two.

It raised up nicely.  I put it in the fridge to continue the fermentation overnight.  Longer ferment times really make for more rich flavors!

The next day, I took it out of the fridge pretty early.  It was a bit bigger, but not by much.  I let it sit for an hour or so, to warm up a bit.  After a while, I measured out the water and sprinkled in the yeast, to activate it.

Then, I got a large ceramic mixing bowl, and sifted in the flour, and added the salt.  I added in all of the wet ingredients (the yeast/water mix, the oil, and the poolish).  The poolish was very gluteny, even though it was runny, so it was difficult to measure.  I ended up spooning it into a measuring cup.  I got a good, basic mix going on with a heavy wooden spoon.

...But then it got ugly.

I stuck my hand in the goo and started squeezing it through my fingers, turning the bowl as I went.  I would squeeze, turn, release, then grab another glob and squeeze again.  It felt sooo gross.  This was taking the place of a normal knead.  As I was doing this, I could feel it getting more smooth and gluten-y.  I did that for almost 8 minutes.  It was very tiring on the fingers.  Finally, I rubbed what I could off my fingers then rinsed my hands.  It really was a mess.

Then, I sprinkled a small handfull of flour out onto the tabletop, in about the size and shape of a dinner plate.  I dumped the goo dough onto it (scraping the sides with a spatch), and sprinkled more flour on top.  I floured my hands and grabbed each side and pulled, stretching the dough outward.  I folded the right side over the middle, then the left side, to form a small square, which I gently flattened a bit.  I turned it 90°, and did the stretch and folds again.  Then I covered it with a tea towel and let it sit for a half hour.

I mixed the herbal oil next.  I simply put the oil in a jar, the set the jar in some really hot water for a time.  I added in all of the herbs and seasonings and stirred it up.  The heat makes the oil absorb the flavors a bit more.

After that rest, I did the stretch and fold again, and after that, another 30 minute rise/rest.  Finally, after one more stretch and fold, it was ready for shaping.

I got the coals lit.  I could tell it was a lot of coals.  I was shooting for a final temperature of 450°.

I got out the oval roaster and poured a pretty liberal amount of the herbal oil in the bottom, enough to cover.  I put in the dough and, using my fingertips, stretched it out to the edges, or at least close to it.  I pressed my fingertips into the dough, all the way to the pot, to make the traditional dimples.  I poured on more herbal oil, then sprinkled on the onions, garlic, and tomatoes.  Then I let that rise some more.  I also put in the short-stemmed thermometer.

Actually, I think now that I really went overboard on the toppings.  The amounts shown above should be more effective.  In the end, having lots of toppings kept it from getting a nice, crisp top crust.  In fact, all of the cheese browned, then singed instead.

In a pizza, the crust is there to give a delicious carriage for the toppings.  In focaccia, the bread is the attention, and the toppings should simply enhance it.

When the coals were white-edged, I took the lid out and put as many coals on it as I could.  As I said, I wanted it heck-hot!  Another fifteen minutes, and the bread was ready, the lid was ready, and it was time to bake.

I put the lid on, and set the roaster on the stand, to lift it up above the coals.  I adjusted the proper above and below coals, and let it bake.

After about 15 minutes, I lifted the lid and saw that it was nicely cooking.  I added the cheese at that point.  I actually put on a lot of cheese.  In retrospect, I would put on less than half what I did, and I might even wait another five minutes.  At this point, It would have probably also been a good idea to remove 6-8 coals from the middle of the top, too.

After another ten minutes, the thermometer registered 200 degrees, so I shook off the coals and brought it in.  Using a pancake turner, I tipped the roaster and lifted the focaccia out, laying it nicely onto a cooling rack.  It sat there, teasing me, for about an hour.

In spite of the darkened top, the whole bread tasted amazing.  The herb oil and the oil in the dough gave it a richness, and the toppings were delicious. It didn’t have the big holes in the crumb that I had hoped for, but the crumb was deliciously light and flavorful.

Do you like cooking with a Dutch oven?  Here are more recipes for Dutch ovens.

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Friday, January 4, 2013

French Bread Batarde in a Cast Iron Oval Roaster

This Dutch oven recipe is included in my Dutch oven cookbook, "Dutch Oven Breads"

One of the things I got for Christmas this year was a cast iron oval roaster.  I don’t know if it’s TECHNICALLY a dutch oven, but it IS cast iron, you CAN put coals on top and below (with a stand), and you CAN (currently) use them in sanctioned Dutch oven cookoffs.  So, I’m going to call it a Dutch oven.  You can see, basically, what it looks like in the affiliate ad, there, on the right.

Now, there’s all kinds of cool things you can do with an oval roaster, as a Dutch oven chef, that you can’t do as well with a regular Dutch oven.  One is to cook a full rack of ribs.  Another is to lay out a big, long fish, like a salmon, on a bed of potatoes or rice.  I’d love to steam some rice under a few big long king crab’s legs!

But what has had me wanting one of these for the whole last year was the opportunity to do French bread the way it’s supposed to be done, as a batarde shape. See, there are basically three shapes for french bread.  The baguette is a long, thin shape, with a lot of crust, and not as much crumb.  It’s great for dipping and for having alongside soups.  The boule (or ball) is a round-shaped hearth loaf.  That’s easy to do with a traditional Dutch oven, since it’s round, too.  Then there’s the batarde.  It’s somewhere in between the two.  It’s shorter than the baguette, and fatter, but not fully round, like the boule.  It has more crust area than the boule, but not as much as the baguette. It’s also what you find labeled as “French bread” in most American supermarkets.

The problem with the Dutch oven is that you can’t do a baguette or a batarde shape.  It’s just not long enough.  But, the oval roaster IS!

So, last week, I made a batarde of French bread, and it turned out GREAT!  I basically did the same recipe and procedure as I did when I made the boule before, but did it in the different shape and oven.  It’s a two-day process, with a preferment dough that rises overnight.  This helps develop more flavor!

French Bread Batarde

Day 1: no Dutch oven needed

Day 2: Oval Roaster

18-20 coals below
24-26 coals above

You’ll also need a Dutch oven trivet, or stand, to raise the roaster up above the coals.

The first step, the night before, is to make a “Pâte Fermentée”, or a preferment.  This is basically a bread dough, that you let rise overnight, then use as a basis for more bread dough the next day.

1/2 tsp Yeast
1 Cup water

2 1/4 Cups Bread Flour
3/4 tsp Salt

I started by mixing the yeast and the water. It doesn’t matter as much if the water’s hot, here, but I’m used to activating the yeast in 110° water.  Just stir the yeast into the water and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

While waiting, I sifted the flour and the salt together.  Once the yeast was a little frothy, I poured the yeast/water mix onto the flour and stirred it up.  I shook a little flour onto my tabletop and kneaded it a bit.  I went for a while, but I didn’t worry about a windowpane, because I knew that I’d be kneading it for reals the next day.

I sprayed the bowl with oil, set the dough ball in, and sprayed it with oil.  I covered the bowl with plastic and let it rise for about an hour.

Then, it went into the fridge, for the long, overnight ferment.

The Dough

1 tsp Yeast
1 Cup water (about 110° F)

The Pâte Fermentée from the night before
2 Cups Bread Flour, with more for kneading
3/4 tsp Salt

The next day, I pulled it out pretty early and set it aside to come up in temperature and rise a little more.  I let it sit most of the morning.

When I was ready to work it, I got another cup of 110° water (or close to it), and activated a little more yeast.  I sifted 2 cups of the flour, as before, and added the salt.  Then, I cut the Pâte Fermentée into a dozen or so small chunks.  Finally, I combined the Pâte Fermentée, the flour mix, and the yeast mix and stirred it up.

Then, I turned the dough out onto my floured tabletop and started kneading and flouring in earnest.  This time, I really worked it, and kept at it until I got a good stretchy windowpane (see my breadmaking lens for a good explanation of the windowpane test

Once it was well-kneaded, I formed it into a boule, stretching and tucking the surface tight, and set it back into the oiled bowl.  I oiled the surface of the bread, too, and covered it all to rise.

It rose up very nicely, over the course of a couple of hours.  When it had doubled in bulk, I went out and lit up a lot of coals.  Once the coals were starting, I put just a little flour out on the tabletop, and dumped out the dough.  I squashed and stretched it into a long, narrow shape, about a foot and a half long by about 3-4 inches wide.  I stretched a nice, tight surface, and pinched the bottom tight together all along the length.  I put that whole dough loaf onto a single piece of parchment paper (to make it easier to move).  I set that aside to rise some more.

Then, I went back out to my cooking area with my oval roaster.  I spritzed some oil all over the inside, and set it up on my lid stand trivet.  I put 18-20 coals below it, right under the edge, and 24-26 coals above on the lid.  There was a limited space on the lid, and it didn’t have a high lip to keep the ash in, so I could tell it would be tricky to manipulate.  But, I had to work with it.

After about 15-20 minutes, the roaster was nicely pre-heated, and the dough had risen back up some.  I took my razor, my dough, some hot pads, a short-stemmed thermometer, and my son to start the baking.  While I carefully lifted the lid, he lowered the dough in on the parchment.  Then, he sprinkled on some sesame seeds, slashed the top with the razor, in three long slashes, and stuck in the thermometer.  I set the lid back on and marked the time.  I also put a handful of fresh coals into the chimney to start.

After about 15 minutes, I turned the oven around, and the lid as well, just to change the relative positions of the coals to the bread dough.  That helps promote more even cooking.  It was very tricky to turn the lid without shaking ash into the oven.  I think next time, I’ll knock the ash off the coals and sweep it clean first.  I put a few fresh coals at even distances above and below, mainly because they had burned down and it was very, very cold out.  In the summer, or in lighter breeze, that might not be necessary.

After another 15-20 minutes, it was done.  I lifted up the lid, and the thermometer read at 190°.  It can go as high as 200°, but the lighter white breads can be done at 190°.  I shook the ashes off the lid and brought the roaster in.  I lifted the bread out by the parchment paper and set it onto my cooling rack.  It really looked nice!  The crust wasn’t too hard, and the bottom was nicely browned as well.

My wife said that it was the best bread I’d ever baked.  I had some friends come over and share.  It was great by itself, and I also loved it with butter and honey!

How to cook in a Dutch oven! And here are chicken Dutch oven recipes!

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.


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