Cast iron pot-baked peasant loaf: outside, on the grill! NEW VIDEO

It’s basically summer, even here in Minnesota, and I’m baking loaves outside on the grill already.  Last summer, we did a lot of grilled flatbreads (and there’ll be more to come), but a few days ago I baked a peasant loaf in a closed cast iron pot, right on the gas grill.  We’ve had lots to say about baking in a closed vessel, which works great indoors.  Well, it works great outdoors too.  Use any lean dough you like; try our regular white recipe, from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, or the whole-grain version, from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  After you view the video, come see the finished product (picture at the end of this post).

In the video above, I’m not entirely clear on baking times.  You bake with the lid on the pot for the first two-thirds of baking, then remove it so the top crust can complete its browning for the last third of baking.  If the loaf takes 30 minutes, then the first 20 are covered.  Play with your grill to get the temperature stabilized around the level called for in our recipe (you need a grill with a thermometer), but be aware that you may need a lower temp than what’s called for– in some gas grills the bottom will scorch at full temp.

If you don’t have a cast-iron pot, you can use any oven-proof lidded vessel, including a cloche, but simple inexpensive things work as well.  For cast-iron, you can use an enameled pot as in this post, or simple un-enameled black cast-iron.

If you do go for the Le Creuset enameled cast-iron pans (here’s a two-quart version on Amazon), they’re terrific, but you might need to replace the standard composite lid-knob with this metal one for high-heat baking, on the grill or otherwise.  The composite degrades at temperatures above 375F or so, though some seem to say otherwise in the product literature.  Check with the company if you’re in doubt.

If you use the 1-quart pan, that’s about exactly right for a 1-pound loaf, and will contain sideways spread.  But… larger pans also work beautifully– the pan will be larger than the loaf and won’t contain sideways spread.  You’ll see what I mean…

But here’s what the final result looks like (yes I’ve switched pots on you here, this is from a different baking session–the slashing on this loaf was parallel cuts rather than the cross I did in the video):

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68 thoughts on “Cast iron pot-baked peasant loaf: outside, on the grill! NEW VIDEO

    • Hi Rita,

      You can actually bake the bread in a cast iron pot without any parchment at all. You just flop the dough right in the pot. It is so much easier to use parchment and you have more control over the process.

      Thanks, Zoë

  1. Another option for a cast iron pot is to buy the lodge and then replace the knob on top with the one from Le Creuset. It’s a lot cheaper and has worked great for me. Unfortunately the smallest Lodge I’ve found is a 3 quart.

  2. Do you need to have a pot that fits the loaf tightly? or can there be inches of open air all around the loaf?

    • Cristie: Yes, it’s fine if the pot is more like a mini-oven rather than a container vessel, you’ll be fine. If this is a loaf that’s fixing to spread sideways it will, but that’s the only downside. Jeff

  3. I enjoyed the video but would have enjoyed it even more if I could have seen the finished loaf all nice and brown and crusty right off the grill :-D

  4. Hi, was jus wondering would this work with a charcoal bbq, and do you have a picture of the finished loaf from this video?

    thanks

    • Hi nads,

      Neither of us have a charcoal bbq, but we have heard from people that have done it. One thing that seems to work is to create a “pillow” of foil on the bottom of your pan to prevent the live flames from scorching the bottom crust of your bread. Just lay the parchment sling with the dough right on top of the “pillow” of foil and bake as usual.

      Thanks! Zoë

  5. I love your book, guys! I just baked my first loaf last night, and discovered that my oven vents steam. The dutch oven method seems like a great idea. But, unfortunately, I’m just a poor newly-married wife, haha. So, I don’t own a dutch oven. I saw your post on using the disposable lasagna pan, and I just have one question.

    If I use an oven-safe pyrex bowl to cover the loaf on my stone, will that have a similar affect to the lasagna pan? And do I run any risk of cracking the bowl?

    I love that you guys are so open to answering questions on your website. Lord knows you’ve helped many a baker!

    • Hi Christine,

      Hmmm, the glass pan, even if oven proof makes me a bit nervous. Do you have a metal bowl or even a pot that you could invert over the loaf? Anything that is oven proof, but not glass, and has enough room to clear the rising bread will work.

      Thank you for trying the bread and congrats on your new marriage! :) Zoe

  6. My sister cracked her pyrex bowl trying this dutch oven bread method in an oven. Would foil make a good enough seal if you tent it?

    Oddly enough, I found myself the other weekend with a gas grill, a set of pots and pans (not mine!), bread dough, no oven, and “discovered” my own version of this method. I hadn’t thought of the lid off step, which would have helped the crust. However, I wished I had put foil between the grill and the bottom of the pot, as some of the grease baked on the bottom of the shiny silver pot in nice lines. The bottom of the bread was charred, but we sliced it off and the bread was fabulous, with a touch of smoke from when I’d checked on it.

  7. Tim: I’ve just updated the post to reflect the fact that you can use ordinary cast-iron, doesn’t have to be enameled.

    DrMeglet: Sounds like a nice approach!

  8. I had to laugh at your comment about the 80 degree weather. Here I am in supposedly “sunny” California. Yesterday it was pouring rain and 50 degrees here–typical wintery weather that seems to have taken up permanent residence this year!

    Oh well, in a few weeks I’ll be whining about the heat and eager to try my hand at baking bread on the gas grill BBQ.

  9. I have the Sam’s Club Hard Anondized cookware. That’s what I’ve been using to bake my Artisan bread since I bought the book. I think it would work well for the grill as well.

  10. Whenever I pour water into the baking pan in the oven, I get a face full of steam..nice facial but not in the kitchen.
    Why can’t I just put water in the pan first and it will heat while the oven is pre-heating?
    Love your book, your recipes and your bread! Thanks

    • Hi Cathy,

      The steam helps to give the bread a nice shiny crust and it allows the bread to rise better by softening the top crust. The steam only aids the bread in the first 10 minutes of the baking. If you add the water as the oven is pre-heating you need to make sure there is enough left when you add the bread to the oven. Much of that steam will be released when you open the door to put the bread in. It is certainly worth a try. Please let us know how it goes!

      Thanks! Zoë

  11. I am new to this artisan bread making and I’m loving it so far! I just made my first batch of dough last week and I had a question about the initial rise that occurs immediately after mixing the dough. Is it a problem if the dough rises so much that it touches and bumps up against the lid? I had the lid loosely resting on the top of the container and the dough just pushed right up and rose even a few additional inches above the edge of my container. I would like to punch a few holes in my lid, so I can seal the edges down tightly (the dough exposed to the air got very dry), but I don’t know if this will place too much restraint on the rising dough. My container is a plastic ice-cream bucket which holds 4.38 quarts, so it’s not quite 5 quarts. Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Jen,

      Poking a hole in the top of your ice cream bucket is perfect. Your dough will touch the lid in that size bucket and that is just fine. If you find that the dough is bulging the top of the lid, you may need to find a slightly larger bucket, but if it is just reaching the top, you are fine.

      Thanks and enjoy! Zoë

  12. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I would LOVE to try grilling bread on the BBQ. I want to make pita/flatbreads. I also think it would be fabulous to bake the hamburger and hot dog buns while the rest of the food is being prepared. Now that’s FRESH!

    However, I have a split grille–each side is only 10″ wide x 18″ long.. I am trying to figure out how to do this. Can I bake it all right on the grille? How about if I buy a cast iron skillet or flat cast iron “pan” that would fit on top of the grille. If I did burger buns on a cast iron griddle that would fit on one side, I could do the burgers on the other side.

    I have heard of stones for the grille. Would that be better than the cast iron? I figure I could use the cast iron in the oven, also. If I get a cast iron skillet, the bread would form around the side, right? What about using a unglazed tile?

    Sorry for so many questions. I am trying to make this inexpensive. Maybe, too, I have given you some areas for experimentation for your next book.

    Thanks so much,

    Judy M, TN

    • Hi Judy,

      You just need to be able to regulate the heat to make sure that the breads you are baking do not burn on the bottom, before they are baked through in the center. I have baked pizzas and flatbreads on my grill, both on the grates and on a pizza stone. I love the results. When I have baked thicker loaves it has always been in a Dutch oven. You may want to play with baking a single bun on a stone before baking off an entire batch, also to get the timing right.

      Cast iron should also work, but the black bottom may create a more intense heat and therefore you would have to turn down the grill.

      Let us know how it comes out.

      Thanks, Zoë

  13. I made a boule using the disposable lasagna pan technique. Heretofore I’ve been unable to get a crackling crust. This time, I think it was crackling, but it was super soft, almost inaudible. Is this normal? Or is there something I’m lacking!

    P.S.–Thanks for the warning on the pyrex bowl the other day!

    • Christine: The crackling isn’t exactly a shout, so I think you’re OK. Also note that it’s tough to get the crackling effect in warm humid weather. If the lasagne pan is your best result to-date, see how it crackles this winter– bet it will be even more impressive. jeff

    • Hi Christine,

      Did you remove the pan to allow the bread to crisp up for the last 10 minutes or so? You should get a nice crust and it should still sing (crackle) to you when it is done!

      Hope that helps? Zoë

  14. Hi Zoe,

    Thanks so much for replying, it took me a while to read, kids have been sick, you know how it is! just wanted to say thanks, I have your book and love it, but it really helps to have personal questions answered :)

    thanks

  15. I was going to make the tapenade bread in your first book to use up some tapenade but noticed that the recipe calls for bread flour. All of your other recipies, I think, use all-purpose flour. Why do you use the bread flour for this recipe. As I don’t want to buy a bag, which I may not use up, would the all-purpose flour work? Thanks, Melina

    • Melina: We found that the tapenade really loosened up the gluten structure, and resulted in a bread that spread sideways. It was more like a flatbread. If you’re OK with that, you can use AP flour; consider increasing the flour by about 1/4-cup (haven’t tested that, but it’s a reasonable guess).

  16. Jeff, using the 2 quart Le Crueset on the grill, did you have any problem with the bottom of the loaf burning? I have used a typical black cast iron griddle on our gas grill, but I am still getting some scorched bottoms. Thanks for a reply.

    • Janet: There’s something of a tendency for the bottom to scorch– it always takes some trial and error for each grill. Options:

      1. Turn down the heat even though the thermometer’s spot-on (the bottom’s hotter than where the temp probe is).
      2. Consider putting something under the pot– a baking stone, a cast iron skillet– this blunts the effect of the heat.

  17. Hi Zoe,

    Thanks so much for asking, they are a little better :)

    I’ve cheered myself up by buying some unglazed terracotta tiles, lol, I’ve always got baking on the brain! Now, though, I’m not too sure how to proceed as I’ve never used a baking stone in my life. Is there anything I’m supposed to do first, eg, cleaning them? should I dry them out first before using for baking. Also,not sureif I am supposed to slowly preheat to get to max temperature?

    Thanks heaps :), hope I didn’t confuse you there!

    • Hi Nads,

      Great about the kids! Hope they are 100% soon!

      You probably do want to rinse off the tiles first, just with water, not soap. Let them dry out a bit and then stick them in your oven. They will heat slowly as the oven preheats. Let them heat an extra several minutes after the oven says it is up to temperature before putting your bread on them. The garden tiles are a bit thinner than most baking stones so they will actually heat up much quicker!

      Enjoy! Zoë

  18. Thanks so much for replying so quickly, I jus forgot to mention I have an electric oven with fan, not sure if this makes a differennce. Thanks again, appreciate it.

  19. Nads: Assume you mean a convection oven; you may find that you can get by with a slightly shorter pre-heat than with conventional ovens (but maybe not). See what you think. Jeff

  20. Thanks for your help, will try and see. So, jus so I’m sure, I can place them in the oven to preheat and turn the dial to max immediately? or should I preheat more slowly? this is for the first time.

    I’ve already rinsed them with warm water, is this okay do you think? am just leaving them to dry a bit before I use them. Thanks again for all the help

    • Hi nads,

      The oven heats up slowly, so the tiles will be fine, just set the oven to the temperature you want it with the tiles set in there and they will be ready to go.

      Thanks! Zoë

  21. I love your books, and really enjoy making bread this way, and I’m so happy you answer questions so freely. I have been using a full-size, 4 inch Cambro pan (plastic) to store my dough. I chose it since it would fit more easily in our extra refrigerator. The dough tends to dry out a little too quickly and the loaves seem to be denser than we’d like. I think it is probably because the dough is too thin when it spreads in the container. Have you tried an oblong container? Should I switch to a taller, narrower container instead?

    Thanks for your guidance!

    • Hi Deon,

      When you say the dough is drying out too quickly, do you mean that it has a tough, almost leathery feel to the top? Is the lid on your cambro on a bit too loosely and too much air is getting into the bucket? I don’t think that it is the shape of your bucket, but the way the lid fits could be a culprit.

      What kind of dough are you making? Your breads may benefit from a longer rest time before baking. Check this post out and see if it help at all: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=141

      Thanks, Zoë

  22. I love your books, and really enjoy making bread this way, and I’m so happy you answer questions so freely. I have been using a full-size, 4 inch Cambro pan (plastic) to store my dough. I chose it since it would fit more easily in our extra refrigerator. The dough tends to dry out a little too quickly and the loaves seem to be denser than we’d like. I think it is probably because the dough is too thin when it spreads in the container. Have you tried an oblong container? Should I switch to a taller, narrower container instead?

    • Beatitaa: I use oblong occasionally, without problem, but I use up dough pretty quick with all the testing I do. It does tend to dry the surface– two options:
      1. Brush surface w/water
      2. Seal lid completely (not if it’s glass and screwtop); most people can’t detect alcohol smells after two days of fermentation.

      If those don’t work, yes, switch to taller, narrower container.

  23. Can i substitute guar gum fo xanthan gum in your gluten free breads? I am really looking forward to trying your recipes as I am new to celiac disease and have not yet found a satisfactory bread. As I commonly make all my families bread, gluten free recipes tend to fall pretty far shot of the mark.

    • Hi Colleen,

      I have never tried the dough with only guar gum, only in addition to the xanthan gum. I do not know if it will have the same effect and what proportion you would need to use? If you try this I would go with a small batch and see how it goes. Please report back and let me know what you discover.

      Thanks, Zoe

  24. Just made this yesterday. FANTASTIC! Made the WW master recipe. Delicious with an incredible crust. Thank you for putting the skills and science of this in our hands!! I love not having to head up my whole kitchen (Orlando, summer) to bake yummy things!

  25. I made your gluten free olive oil bread and it’s the closest thing to real bread I have come across yet. My loaf was very dense though, could it be the guar gum? Also I am not sure how to tell if it is ready to go into the oven, it’s so different than wheat bread. We are going camping this weekend and I want to bring some dough along to grill. Any advice is welcome.

    • Hi Colleen,

      Do you mean the xanthan gum? None of our recipes use guar gum. Are you baking the bread from fresh dough or is it chilled? The dough is very different from wheat doughs and you basically just press it into shape and let it rest for the specified amount of time. If you are baking it on the grill will you be doing flat breads? If so you will want to bake it on greased foil or a pan.

      Thanks and enjoy! Zoe

  26. Sorry, I didn’t clarify that, I’m allergic to xanthan gum so I always use guar gum. The dough I used was chilled and I tried different resting times, 90 minutes and longer, but the bread still turned out very dense. The flavour is awesome and the texture is not cardboardy like I have come to expect in gluten free breads. I wish I could taste yours!! Yes, I was thinking flatbread on the grill, and thanks for the tip about greased foil. I’ll be sure to try it.

    • Hi Colleen,

      I see. I will have to try the dough with just guar gum, but so far I have not so I’m not sure if that will make a difference in the texture?

      Have fun camping! Zoe

  27. In my kitchen, I have an old 24 cubic inch oven from the 60s. When I try to get the temperature up to 450, the outside of the oven gets VERY hot… and it makes me a little nervous. (We will replace it when we do some remodeling). In the meantime, what happens if I bake my bread at a lower temp — more like 400 to 425? Will the smaller size of the oven compensate, maybe? Anything else I’d need to consider with the limitations of this particular oven?

    I’ve been searching the forums for this answer but haven’t come across it yet, so sorry if it’s a repeat.

    Oh, and THANKS for your book. Just started with this whole bread adventure and am having a great time. I’m spreading the word, too ^_^

    • Hi Humble Momma Pie,

      I do think that the size of your oven is going to work to your advantage. The most likely outcome is that you will end up with a slightly thicker crust due to the longer baking times you will most likely need, to compensate for the lower temperature.

      You should also give the Dutch Oven a try, this will make the heat around the bread even more intense.

      Are you using an oven thermometer or just relying on what the oven is telling you? Your oven may be getting hotter than you think.

      Thanks and enjoy the bread! zoe

  28. I just made the 100% whole wheat with flaxseed on the grill in a Lodge dutch oven. When I first took the lid off to place the dough in the pan, it was smoking. I went ahead and put the bread in for 15 minutes (it was a smaller loaf). I removed the lid after that and baked an additional 10 minutes. The bread was pretty good, but it did have the taste of the Lodge pan from when it was smoking. What did I do wrong? Is the pre-seasoned Lodge pans a problem?? When preheating the Lodge Dutch Oven should I have the lid on or off?

    • Sandra: Was there any char on the bread? If not, it seems that it was something on the pan? I’ve used Lodge pre-seasoned and haven’t had a smoking problem. Was the pot new? Any residue on it? Does it just need a good scrubbing?

      With this method, it’s meant to be covered for the first two-thirds of baking. Jeff

  29. Hi Jeff, thanks for your response. It is a brand new Lodge pan so maybe that’s it?? I will scrub it really well next time and see if that cuts down on the smoking. I’m looking forward to you next book!

  30. Sandra: It’s odd though– I’ve used their pre-seasoned pizza pan and it didn’t smoke. Well, let’s see what happens. jeff

  31. Jeff & Zoe: First WE LOVE your breads. I’m baking on a sailboat in The Sea of Cortez. My oven will not get hot enough so I’m now using the grill. My first loaf was baked in a cast aluminum pot and got ‘a tad’ burnt on the bottom.. Wondering if I use a heat defuser if that will solve the problem.

    • Hi Diana,

      What a wonderful place to be baking! Let us know if you need any hands on help with that! ;)

      What I do when baking on the grill in a closed pot is make a pillow of foil to go under the bread. I just wad up the foil loosely and it creates just enough insolation from the heat of the grill. I just place the dough, on parchment paper right on top of that pillow. I think this will do the trick.

      Happy baking and sailing! Zoë

    • The only question is whether the manufacturer will be OK with pre-heating the non-stick surface. May not be durable in these conditions, so check with them (they’ll probably say don’t do it). But certainly the bread will come out well.

      • Thanks Jeff. You were right! I wrote to Le Creuset at about the same time that I posted on the blog. Here is their response so that others might know what Le Creuset’s policy is:

        Hello Edward J. Escobar,

        We would not recommend the bread recipe using Le Creuset to heat empty since this can damage the enamel interior. We would definitely not recommend using nonstick since this could delaminate the surface. Some consumers choose to use the cast iron however we recommend at least water in the vessel while heating. Should damage occur using this recipe it would not be covered under the no charge replacement warranaty.

        Regards,

        Mernice Savage
        Consumer Relations Dept.

        Later today I’m off to Williams Sonoma for a La Cloche. Since I live in Tempe, Arizona, where I try not turn on the oven from May to September, I’ll probably buy a cheap cast iron and use it outside on my grill during the summer months. As expensive as they are, I wouldn’t want to break the La Cloche while experimenting.

      • Interesting and not surprising. They don’t want to cover you for any non-traditional use.

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