The Lodge 3.2-Quart Cast-Iron Combo Cooker Is the Best Baking Tool

Jeffrey Cuebas

Scoring a tour of the Modernist Cuisine kitchens near Seattle is catnip for food stuff writers like me. Not only do they have all the toys, they have industrial variations of all the toys: rotovap devices, blast freezers, steam ovens, you identify it. But the detail I recall most about my tour a few decades back was a basic-Jane Samsung household oven in the center of it all. Modernist’s head chef, Francisco Migoya, opened its doorway and pointed at a forged-iron pot in the center of it that was so dim, it seemed not to replicate any light-weight.

Amid this nerd gadget treasure trove, he reported some thing like: That forty-dollar pot? That is the best tool you can buy to make excellent bread at household.

Many thanks to that pot and a near-ideal recipe, I now make loaves of wonderful bread a few occasions a 7 days. This is not a brag. The bread I make requires practically no talent on my section. I just lucked into what turned out to be the apex of what you can get by combining culinary sloth and the correct tool for the job. When the world-wide-web is full of people who are obsessed with the sourdough loaves they slaved about (it truly is a total procedure), you can make an superb loaf with a bit of time and practically zero exertion.

Photograph: Katrin Ray Shumakov/Getty Pictures

The Lodge three.two-Quart Solid Iron Combo Cooker (aka “the LCC3”) is where the magic happens. It is a curious animal. Taken apart, the “lid” is also a skillet, and the bottom is a massive sauce pot. Set the previous on prime of the latter and you’ve got received a Dutch oven that, with its two handles, seems to be a bit like a kid with a ball cap on sideways. Flip it so the skillet is underneath and you have an best vessel for baking bread. The loaves I make have a pretty dim crust and a attractive, springy inside, which is regarded as the crumb. If I bought what I made at a fancy bakery, I would be one hundred % glad, each individual time. Priced at $50 (only $40 on Amazon) and weighing 13 lbs, the Combo Cooker is so inexpensive that I occasionally give it as a present, as lengthy as the shipping and delivery is absolutely free.

A substantial section of why I like it so a lot is the recipe that tends to make it shine: Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread, some thing that received a substantial improve from a pair of Mark Bittman stories in The New York Situations, then was without end enshrined in his personal e-book and Modernist Bread. In its place of demanding heaps of kneading or mixing, time does the grunt get the job done. Blend flour, yeast, and salt, then incorporate drinking water and mix right until it retains alone collectively in what’s regarded as a “shaggy mass.” Soon after that, adhere it on the counter overnight. Form it into a ball in the early morning, allow it increase yet again for a bit, then put it into the preheated Lodge and bake it. When I am on my game, the guide labor requires all of about ten minutes. By waiting it out with that overnight increase, you make it possible for the gluten in the dough to reinforce and the flavors from the fermenting yeast to produce, a technique regarded both of those as autolyse and sleeping.

There are still a lot of magic tricks left when you change about to the pot. A person of my favorites is how, with dough in it, it turns into a steam oven, a fetish merchandise among bakers and cooks. With the pot’s somewhat tight seal, the steam unveiled from the dough is trapped inside, helping make heat transfer to the dough especially economical. It really is properly a very stable very little oven inside of your bigger a single, and maintaining the steam inside will allow the area of the loaf to stretch for the duration of baking so the inside can increase as it cooks.

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