I have been in the market for a nice enameled dutch oven for a while now, but until recently I’ve only been looking around casually. Last week, I stumbled upon the Emile Henry Flame Series Dutch Oven at King Arthur Flour and was instantly smitten. It’s a stoneware dutch oven that has been made with a special process that allows it to be oven safe, electric or gas range safe, microwave safe, freezer safe, dishwasher safe, etc. They say that it can be taken from the freezer and put into a hot oven without any issues. At $100, I won’t be testing that particular claim any time soon.
Wanting to try it out ASAP, I whipped up a quick and easy dough that can be found here: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2009/12/01/the-crunchiest-crackliest-chewiest-lightest-easiest-bread-youll-ever-bake/
I had an abridged time scale, with a 3hr fermentation and then shaping followed by a 20 minute rest before throwing it in the oven (450F). According to KAF, you get equally good results if you proof in the pot, and put the whole thing in the oven rather than preheating the pot and having to deal with a scorching hot pot in one hand and a lump of dough in the other. Being happy to prevent burns, I followed that suggestion. I shaped and threw the loaf into the cold pot:
And then after 20 minutes of rest I threw it in the oven. The one downside to not preheating the pot means that it doesn’t cook quite as quickly, but otherwise it works quite well! The lid seals in the water, effectively simulating a steam-injected oven without dealing with hot pans of boiling water and all that jazz.
I pulled the loaf out ~35-40 minutes later (I did check it a few times). Note that the pot changes color when hot:
Pretty nice crumb too, for such a lazy loaf:
Overall, my initial impressions of this as a baking vessel are great. I have heard that they sometimes crack or craze but they do have a 10-year warranty, so presumably I could get it replaced if that happened. I’m very happy to have such a multipurpose cooking implement around the kitchen and I’m looking forward to using it frequently!