How Dutch Oven Size Affects Sourdough

Dutch oven size and sourdough loaf shape

Have you ever wondered how the size of your Dutch oven affects your sourdough loaves? Here, I compare side-by-side two sourdough loaves from the same batch of dough ( I used by sourdough with flax seed recipe) baked in two different sized Dutch ovens.

About the Dutch ovens

The Dutch ovens I used for this experiment are my 3 qt round Cuisinart Dutch Oven and 4.2 Quart Emile Henry. The interior diameter of the 3 qt Dutch oven is about 7 inches, and the interior diameter of the 4.2 qt Dutch oven is about 9 inches (measured at the base). One other difference between the two Dutch ovens is the material. The Cuisinart is enameled cast iron and the Emile Henry is ceramic. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases).

Baking Details

Both sourdough loaves were from the same batch of dough. I treated them the same throughout the whole process (same timing of steps, number of stretch and folds, shaping technique).

I preheated both Dutch ovens in the oven for 20 minutes after the oven had reached 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, I baked both loaves covered with the lids for 25 minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. After 25 minutes, I decreased the oven temperature to 460 degrees Fahrenheit and removed the lids. Both loaves baked for about 35 more minutes until golden brown.



The sourdough loaf baked in the smaller Dutch oven rose much higher (fantastic oven spring!) and did not spread out widthwise as much as the other loaf. However, the loaf baked in the larger Dutch oven did still have relatively great oven spring and was able to open up along the score better than the loaf baked in the smaller Dutch oven.

Crumb and Crust

The crumb of the loaf baked in the larger Dutch oven was slightly more open than the loaf baked in the smaller one. I think this was because the loaf had a bit more space to spread out width wise.

The crust of both loaves was very similar. I couldn’t detect any significant differences here.


The taste of both loaves was identical. This was not surprising because they were from the exact same batch of dough.


Overall, I love both of these Dutch ovens for sourdough baking. If you are looking to bake loaves with great oven spring, I would recommend the smaller Dutch oven. If you are looking for loaves with a slightly more open crumb, then the larger Dutch oven might be a bit better. However, you can’t go wrong with either of them! I l use my Dutch ovens every day for baking, making soups and stews, cooking vegetables and more!

I hope you enjoyed this experiment about how Dutch oven size affects sourdough.

2 thoughts on “How Dutch Oven Size Affects Sourdough

  1. Hey there! You preheat your Emile Henry Dutch oven? I’ve been scared to do that because the care instructions say it is not supposed to be heated without something inside it, and some reviews said it’ll crack if you do that.

    1. Hi Cecilia,

      Yes, I’ve preheated mine many times without any issue so far. However, you can still bake the loaf in the Dutch oven without preheating it and get good results. The loaf just might not rise quite as high. If you don’t preheat the Dutch oven, I would definitely line the bottom with parchment paper before putting your loaf in it so it doesn’t stick. Hope that helps!


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