Dutch oven baking
Cast iron bread pans in my kitchen oven.

What is the use of cast iron Dutch Ovens in bread baking? Cast iron bread pans are basically Dutch Ovens for bread baking and are designed to ensure a tight seal between the cover and the base. That helps trap the steam exuding from the dough during baking which is needed to prevent the too-early crust formation. Without ample steam during the early 20 minutes of baking, a crust would soon form, preventing the loaf from properly expanding and rising.

Steam produces bread with a crackling crust, rich colors, open scores, and full volume. Most kitchen ovens, however, are not made to add or contain steam. Bakers, then add steam to the kitchen oven by spraying misted hot water into the oven and/or adding hot water to separate pans filled with lava rocks, all at the beginning of the bake. Electric ovens are better at holding steam than gas ovens, as the latter requires a relatively unrestricted airflow through their interior from below and up and out of vents. Any added steam then vanishes through said vents − too soon.

Cast iron bread pans are designed to ensure a tight seal between the cover and the base. That helps trap enough of the sparse steam exuding from the dough itself during baking. Steam, or moisture, prevents the too-early formation of the crust so that the dough can open up and rise. Bakers let the steam out after about 20 minutes of baking, and the now unimpeded heat allows the sugars on the dough’s surface to caramelize in a beautiful crust.

Disclaimer: I own and bake in four Cuisiland bread pans and am happy with them.

Challenger Bread Pan

Challenger Bread Pan
Photo credit: Challenger Bread Pan


EXTERIOR (Includes Handles)
Length 15.4 in / 392 mm
Width 12.5 in / 317 mm
Height 5.4 in / 136 mm

Length 11.5 in / 292 mm
Width 9.0 in / 228 mm
Height 5.0 in/ 127 mm

Total 20.0 lbs / 9.07 kg
Lid 11.3 lbs / 5.12 kg
Base 8.7 lbs / 3.94 kg

Cuisiland Bread & Loaf Pan

Photo credit: Sacramento Sourdough


EXTERIOR (Includes Handles)
Length 15.5 in /
Width 10.25 in /
Height 5.7 in /

Length 12 in /
Width 9.25 in /
Height 5.25 in /

Total 15.2 lbs /
Lid 7.8 lbs /
Base 7.4 lbs /

Okay, the Challenger bread pan is a little heavier, which is good for temperature retention. However, the Cuisiland bread pan is less than half the cost. And the winner is… the Cuisiland bread pan. At least for me.


I also own and use two Cordierite baking stones for ‘open’ bakes. When baking on these stones instead of in Dutch ovens, I will add steam to the kitchen oven’s inner environment. The open bake method works fine as well, but having to manually inject steam into the interior of the oven at the beginning of the bake is a bit messy and, as an additional factor to possibly go wrong, not my favorite way of baking my sourdough goods. Dutch ovens bake the bread best.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *