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I have very limited options in my kitchen, and while the dutch oven is the preferred method for getting an 'oven spring' while baking sourdough, I do not have a cast iron pot to do it.

IF stainless steel is a good substitute, should I consider extra precautions?

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    I was going to post an answer, but I don't really have any facts regarding the need for extra precaautions, or what difference it'll make in the final product. As an alternative you can also use a casserole dish, clay pot or the insert from a slow cooker. – talon8 Oct 10 '14 at 19:55
  • I don't know the answer. I wouldn't be worried about the bread. I'd be worried about the stainless steel. Higher end stainless steel pots are often oven safe for high temperatures and lower end stainless steel pots are often not. – Rick Oct 12 '14 at 4:01
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Cast iron is ideal, but any pot that can take the heat and has a tight lid will work. Like @talon8 said in his comment, it doesn't even have to be metal.

This article from Around the World in 80 Bakes specifically uses terracotta for sourdough, not cast iron.

Just as an FYI, this related question deals with preheating (for no-knead bread, not sourdough), and the differing answers are interesting. To me it just goes to show that bread-making doesn't always have to follow super-strict rules. Preheat the Dutch oven (and the oven itself) for No-Knead Bread? (experiment results)

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i have not tested this myself but I do have a thought.

I would tend to think that something a little less conductive would yield better results than a stainless steel stock pot. Cast Iron, Terracotta, earthenwear and other pots typically used for this are decent insulators, they take much longer to heat up.

Just a stainless steel pot would probably transmit the heat too quickly resulting in and uneven baking of your bread.

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I have been using a Tramontina Triply DO (stainless/aluminum/stainless sandwich). This is a fairly substantial construction but no where near cast iron thickness. The lid is single layer stainless and the handles are solid stainless. Plastic handles will suffer in a 450 to 500 oven. I always preheat the oven, but have tried both a hot and a cold start for the DO. Both methods work very nicely with similar oven spring. The cold start allows the dough to spread to the edges of the DO, producing a round, domed loaf with nice crust. The hot start "freezes" the dough in "rustic" irregular shapes and the crust seems a bit crispier. I adjust lid-off bake time to achieve 200-210F on an instant read thermometer.

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I use a stainless steel casserole dish 20cm diam & 10cm deep, with excellent results - a really good oven spring and an 'artisan' crust. Here's how:

'DUTCH OVEN' WHITE BREAD

500g strong bread flour
1¼ tsp fast-action yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
¾ tsp salt
¾ tbs light oil

Mix, knead & prove in proving oven 1¼ hrs. Knock back, shape into a boule on a 15" length of baking parchment. Holding the paper ends, drop into a 20cm couronne or large mixing bowl. Flour & slash top with a razor blade. 20 mins in proving oven then move to a warm place while heating oven & casserole to 200c. Leave 10 mins more to get dish really hot. Use thick gloves to remove it. Quickly drop dough & parchment into dish and if lid has holes seal it with foil. Bake 20 mins, remove lid & foil, fold parchment back to expose top. Bake 10 mins more then lift out, discard parchment and bake 10 mins more on oven rack.
enter image description here

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