Barb at King Arthur

May 23, 2018 at 8:06pm

In reply to by Alex (not verified)

Hi Alex, you're right to be concerned about preheating your Staub Dutch oven empty, as Staub doesn't recommend this practice. We've found that both the cold start method and baking in a preheated oven can deliver great results, so you have some excellent alternative options. The issue with preheating with water inside the pot is that the water temperature won't go above 212°F, so this will essentially keep the temperature of the pot much lower than the oven temperature. On the other hand, it will be hotter than room temperature, so it might be worth a try. I'm guessing, however, that the difficulties associated with this method may outweigh the benefits. The science behind the benefits of steam in bread baking is much more involved than I can fully explain here, but to put it very simply: steam helps create an open crumb by keeping the surface of the loaf moist and flexible during the oven spring period, thereby allowing for greater expansion. Delaying the formation of the crust also results in a thinner, crisper crust, while moisture aides in the gelatinization of the starches on the surface of the loaf--contributing to shine and color. Pretty miraculous when you think about it! Barb
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