Baking bread in cast iron dish
A Dutch oven is a heavy casserole dish with a fitting lid. They are usually made from cast iron, enamelled or not, and can be used on the hob as well as in the oven.
They are perfect for baking bread in, sourdough in particular but also for any simple loaf that needs a bit of crust.
How to bake bread in Dutch oven?
Shape the loaf and prove it in a basket or banneton for the required time. Halfway through that time start preheating the oven with the dish inside. When you're ready to bake, swiftly turn the loaf out from the basket into the hot casserole. Immediately cover it with the lid and transfer to the oven.
Usually you should take off the lid for the second half of the baking time, to let the loaf colour.
What if you have no cast iron dish?
You can use any oven proof dish or pan with a fitting lid, provided it is safe to withstand your required oven temperature. Ceramic casserole dishes or even aluminium or stainless steel pans will work, provided you place it in cold oven and heat it up gradually.
If you place a cold empty pan in a hot oven it might crack or even break, so take care.
Always take extra care handling the red hot dish - use thick oven gloves and protective trivets on the worktop!