Dutch Oven Basics
Food that requires baking such as biscuits, breads and cakes, needs most of the heat on the top. Coals should be placed under the oven and on the lid at a 1 to 3 ratio with more on the lid. For roasting, the heat should be equal with the same number of coals on top as underneath. For frying, boiling, simmering and stewing, heat should come from the bottom only. To keep biscuits and other baked food from burning on the bottom, remove the bottom heat after two-thirds of the total cooking time.
To share heat and serve dishes that are similar in cooking time, ovens can be stacked. This technique requires careful watching to ensure that the bottom oven does not overcook. [singlepic id=6 w=320 h=240 float=]
Depending on the size of the Dutch oven, each briquette adds between 10 and 20 degrees of heat. Placement of briquettes is also important, because heat is more evenly distributed if placed in a circular pattern on the bottom and in a checkerboard fashion on the lid. [singlepic id=5 w=320 h=240 float=]
Remember that it is much easier to raise the heat in a cast-iron oven than to lower the temperature. Also, temperatures inside the oven will vary according to altitude. Rotating the oven every ten minutes will also help distribute the heat in a more uniform way. The lid can also be rotated a third of a turn in the opposite direction every ten minutes.
Basic Briquette Temperature Control Guidelines
Oven Size Number of Briquettes on Top Number of Briquettes on Bottom
10 inch 10 to 12 8 to 10
12 inch 12 to 14 10 to 12
14 inch 14 to 16 12 to 14
16 inch 16 to 18 14 to 16