Updated: Jan 9, 2019
This is by far my best discovery when I started as a home baker, and its definitely one of the first things it comes to my mind whenever someone asks me for a tip. Of course there are some tricks to making the best out of it, so read below!
1. Preheat it: As soon as you turn the oven on, put the dutch oven + lid inside the oven, as you need it to reach the baking temperature before you put the bread in.
(Check that the lid knob resists the T° too)
2. Parchment paper: Put the loaf of bread on parchment paper before putting it inside the Dutch Oven. Before cutting the piece you are going to use, make sure you leave a sufficient amount of parchment on the sides of the bread to help you grab it when you put it inside, as it will help you avoid burning your hands (which usually happens!). It will also help you take the bread out, once its ready, as the parchment paper does not get hot.
3. Close the Dutch Oven as soon as you put the bread in, to avoid losing any vapor generated from the dough touching the hot pot. This will help you get the largest amount of oven spring.
4. Take the lid off half way through the baking - to help build the crust.
5. Let the Dutch Oven cool at room T° after using it, and clean it with a wet cloth. Its the easiest and safest way to clean it, requiring almost no effort.
And lastly, these pots are NOT expensive - I got mine for US$25.00 (the one you see in the picture) it's a Tramontina that I bought on discount at Walmart.
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P.S: in the photo you don't see the parchment paper below the bread, as I took it for purposes of the website. Its so beautiful though! that I thought it will give you an idea of what you can accomplish, as this loaf was actually done inside that pot few hours before taking this picture.