Dutch oven baguette bread baking

The Dutch oven technique for home bread baking works perfectly for round loaves, but the round shape of most Dutch ovens and other covered oven-safe pans won’t allow you to use standard baguette pans, or bake loaves longer than 9-10 inches.

Herb Sweet Pepper Bread baguette crust.

I went to our local restaurant supply store looking for a metal pan that would handle the 16.5 x 9.5 x 5 inch interior dimensions needed to enclose a standard 16 inch, 3-baguette pan, and found that heavy steam tray pans are perfect for this purpose (see below). The trays don’t have the weight and thermal mass of a heavy ceramic or metal Dutch oven, but they work very well for this home baking technique. The big rectangular interior allows a much more flexible range of bread shapes, and you can fit standard and over-sized muffin trays inside them as well. I use two gloss white ceramic tiles to line the bottom of my steam tray, below the baguette tray, to add thermal mass to help hold heat in the thin metal steam tray.

Before you make any purchases, measure your oven width and height to be sure you know how large a rectangular steam tray pan and cover will fit inside, as well as the size of your baguette trays or other bread pans you wish to use to be sure they will fit inside. Steam trays come in a variety of rectangular and square sizes, and depths.

Photo of steam table tray & cover.

Steam table warming tray used as a Dutch oven for bread baking. A standard steam table tray and domed cover, outside dimensions: 21 x 13 x 7 inches.

The steam tray pans come with both domed covers and flat covers. I chose the domed cover for extra height. I also plan to experiment with the flat cover to see if the reduced space in the pan holds moisture better and forms a better bread crust than the larger space afforded by the domed cover.
Steam tray with a standard 3-baguette pan inside.

Photo of steam tray pan with an over-sized muffin pan inside.

These larger steam trays can hold a variety of baking pans.

These larger steam trays can hold a variety of baking pans.

See my page on Dutch oven bread baking for specific techniques and times.

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