Dutch oven baking refers to the process of using a Dutch oven to bake, rather than the use of a standard home or commercial oven. This also typically refers to heating that comes from all around the Dutch oven, rather than just from beneath, and more or less dry heating as well. Such baking can be done in different ways, though it typically comes from the use of a Dutch oven within a regular oven or heating a Dutch oven with coals. Dutch oven baking can be used to make a variety of baked goods including bread, cobblers, and casseroles.
A Dutch oven is a type of large pot often used in camping or in a kitchen. It is typically made from cast iron, though it may be coated in ceramic as well. Dutch ovens for camping often have flat lids with a rim, allowing hot coals to be placed on the lid, though some Dutch ovens have domed lids instead.
The term “baking” usually refers to a cooking process by which dry heat is applied from all around the food. This means that Dutch oven baking usually involves these two aspects of baking as well. Surround heating can come from various sources, though it typically involves a Dutch oven being placed within a standard oven. This type of surround heating for a Dutch oven can also be provided while camping or cooking outdoors, by placing hot coals both on top of and below the Dutch oven.
Both of these methods for Dutch oven baking also supply dry heat for the cooking process. Baking typically does not mean that foods are boiling or simmering within the Dutch oven, so soups, stews, and similar dishes are not considered baked. The closed environment of a Dutch oven can lead to steaming during Dutch oven baking, however, which can be advantageous when baking bread by creating a firm outer crust.
A number of different baked goods can be prepared through Dutch oven baking, including wet dishes such as cobblers or buckles. Pies and similar dishes can also be made within a Dutch oven, as the pot itself acts not only as the vessel for the baked dish within but also as the oven in which it is baking. This makes Dutch oven baking an idea way to prepare casseroles as well, even without an actual casserole dish.