If you ever want to kidnap me, just get a big windowless van and pump the smell of freshly baked bread out the back. I’ll jump in, no questions asked.
I’ve baked more than my fair share of bread using several techniques, and I've tried just about every baking gadget short of a flower pot. When Le Creuset announced their new cast iron bread oven earlier this year, my inner skeptic guffawed, “Will this really work better than any of the other bread bakers I already own?”
However, I felt it was my duty as Chef’s Corner Store’s CFO (Chief Foodie Officer) to test Le Creuset’s latest creation. Keep reading to find out how it performed.
Putting the Le Creuset Bread Oven to the Test
I grabbed my sourdough starter and King Arthur Baking’s recipe for rustic sourdough bread and got to work. The recipe calls for dividing the dough in half, but this baker is large enough to accommodate the entire undivided loaf. However, it’s not any bigger than my 4.5-quart Dutch oven I’ve used for past bread baking adventures.
If you’ve ever baked bread in a Dutch oven, you've probably used a parchment paper sling to transfer the dough into the Dutch oven before baking. Not to sound like one of those overly dramatic infomercial actors who struggles with light switches and blankets, but I’m not a fan of the parchment paper sling. It is another step to remember, and a cumbersome one at that.
Thanks to the thoughtfully-designed shallow bottom of the Le Creuset Bread Oven, no parchment paper sling is needed. Simply oil and flour the bottom of the baker, and you’re good to go.
Like any Le Creuset piece, this bread oven shines when the heat is on. The cast iron really does mimic a brick oven, creating a delightfully crusty outside and fluffy inside. I’ve found it difficult to grip the handles of clay bakers, but the extra-large handles of the Le Creuset Bread Oven helped me safely maneuver it, even while wearing oven mitts.
I was so in love with this bread baker, I went right back to work and made a batch of Joy the Baker’s Easy No Knead Everything Rye Bread. This may be my new favorite sandwich bread.
Is the Le Creuset Bread Oven Just for Bread?
At Chef’s Corner Store, we’re not fans of uni-taskers. If I’m spending a decent amount of money on a product, I’d like to get my money’s worth by using it for more than one purpose.
I decided to test the versatility of the Le Creuset Bread Oven by roasting a whole head of cauliflower. The cauliflower fit perfectly under the domed lid. I drizzled it with olive oil and seasoned it liberally with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then I baked it at 425ºF for 45 minutes.
The results were somewhere between steamed and roasted. The lid trapped the moisture from the cauliflower and made for a very tender end result. While I do wish I’d removed the lid towards the end to allow the edges to brown, I will absolutely try this recipe again.
If you are one of those people who likes to live dangerously, and use your espresso machine to make a cup of tea, you’ll be intrigued to the learn that the lid that comes with the Le Creuset 3.5-quart sauteuse, 4.5-quart round Dutch oven, and 5.5-quart deep Dutch oven will fit on the bottom of the bread baker, turning it into a mini braiser. I haven't tried using the bread oven in this way, but I'm hopeful it could work well.
Is the Le Creuset Bread Oven Worth It?
If you enjoy baking your own artisan bread and experimenting in the kitchen, we're confident you will absolutely love the new Le Creuset Bread Oven. Feel free to drop us a line and let us know what you think!