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Dutch Oven Parmesan and Kalamata bread

A simple and ruggedly tasty bread recipe. This is an autolyse bread recipe that requires only a minimum of handling. Baking in the covered dutch oven is key to this style of bread. A big shout-out to my sourdough-sensei Jennifer who got me on the road of good bread making. It's really easy. Using a dutch oven is key to this type of bread. Get one if you don't have one. Check Goodwill or St. Vinnies.
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time50 mins


  • cast iron dutch oven
  • parchment paper


  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour all purpose will work
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pitted and sliced kalamata olives rinse to get most of the oil off
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant bread yeast


  • Get in the right frame of mind. This is easy bread. It will turn out just fine. Relax. Think rustic thoughts of log cabins, conestoga wagons, and Volkswagens. Your bread is gonna be awesome!
  • In a large mixing bowl that is large enough for all the ingredients add the 2 cups of warm water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit a little bit to wake up
  • In a smaller mixing bowl, add the bread flour, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, and the salt. Mix them together. Good enough is good enough for this.
  • Have the sliced kalamata olives set aside and ready to add
  • Take a whisk and gently wisk the water with the yeast to get it all nicely mixed up
  • Dump the flour/parmesan/salt mix and the olives into the big bowl with the water and yeast. Use a spatula and mix it all together until the dough forms. It will be lumpy and ugly. That's ok.
  • Wet your hands and gather up the dough and gently stretch and fold it in half about 8 to 12 times. As you do this, you will feel it start to toughen up a little. Don't over do it.
  • Dump the dough back in the bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour. 70 degrees F is a great temperature, but lower or higher will be fine.
  • After the 1 hour rise has completed, put the dutch oven (with lid) into the oven and set the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Wet your hands and gather up the dough and do the gentle stretching and folding again for 8 - 12 folds. Again, you will feel the dough toughening. Don't over do it and don't worry how it looks. It will be fine. Dump the dough back into the bowl and set your timer for 30 minutes
  • At the end of 30 minutes, lay out perhaps 1 1/2 sq ft of parchment paper. Sprinkle a little flour onto your work surface. Flour up your hands and gently gather the dough and plop it down onto the floured surface. Sprinkle a light dusting of flour on the top of the dough and then gently fold it it around until you have sort of a ball with a somewhat smooth top. Turn it over in your hand with the smooth top down and gently plop it all down on the parchment paper. It's ok if it sticks to you a little.
  • Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle it with the remaining parmesan. Gently pat down the parmesan so it sticks. Score a fairly large X into the top with a sharp knife or a razor to allow expansion and escape of steam.
  • Try to work quickly, but safely here.
    Open the oven (hot-hot) and remove the lid of the dutch oven using oven mits or pads. Be careful where you put the lid as it is very hot. Grab the edges of the parchment paper and transfer the paper and dough into the dutch oven. Put the lid back on and slide it on into the oven and close it up. Set your timer for 30 minutes. No peeking.
  • After baking for 30 minutes, remove the lid (remember - hot) and put it somewhere safe and set the timer for another 20 minutes to let the bread brown and get a crispy top. It may need an extra minute or two. Use your judgement.
  • After the 20 minutes is up, turn off the oven and carefully take the dutch oven out and put onto a safe surface. Grab the parchment to lift out the bread. It should have risen considerably in the oven. Transfer the bread off the paper and onto a cooling rack and let it cool for at least an hour.
  • After it is completely cool, dive on in! This makes awesome grilled cheese sandwiches. Store in a large storage bag. It will keep for about a week.


A few notes on making bread in a dutch oven:
  • The covered dutch oven holds in the steam from the dough and helps the dough to "pop" to make a great rise
  • If you go take a peek, you will let that steam out and it won't help your bread.  Also, it is very hot steam and you risk a scald burn
  • Be very careful handling the dutch oven once it has heated up.  It is very hot (450 degrees F).  Think about where you will put it before you do so. When you take the lid off for the last 20 minutes, put that lid somewhere safe to cool
  • Regular dried bread yeast will work great.  If you use bread machine yeast, you will likely get a fluffier loaf.
You can modify this into parmesan pesto sunflower seed bread.
  • Add about 1 tablespoon more flour to make up for the reduced parmesan
  • Leave out the kalamata olives
  • Add 1/2 cup of pesto (drained of oil)
  • 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds.  If they are salted, rinse them in cold water just before adding
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
Do everything else the same.
Similarly, you can make this into parmesan rosemary sunflower bread
  • Add about a tablespoon extra flour to make up for the reduced parmesan
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds. If they are salted, rinse them in cold water before adding
  • 1/2 cup parmesan