This was my first sourdough loaf, cooked in my Lodge cast iron combo cooker (also known as a dutch oven). According to those who know better, the dutch oven acts as an “oven within an oven” which allows one to use the steam created by the high temperatures and wet dough to give a hearty crust to one’s bread. This bread, even though I failed to follow the directions, came out very good. I recommend the dutch oven with the long handles if your oven is not a small one. I just think the handles make it easier to ‘handle’ the pans as they are quite heavy.
People will tell you to use heavy oven mitts when handling these since they are going to get up to 500 degrees when handling. While I am certain that cheaper oven mitts will do, I went a bit crazy and purchased these oven gloves with extra long cuffs, which make handling the heavy and hot cast iron easy and secure.
I followed the instructions (not at all precisely) for the “Basic Country Loaf” found in Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread. The inside of the loaf looks like this (though the photo is a little blurry):
I have eaten the bread plain and with butter. It is delicious either way! I can confirm that it makes an out of this world grilled cheese sandwich, and know that it is going make excellent bruschetta. The crust is a bit chewy but when grilled, it turns into a crisp and easy to chew delight.