PRODUCT REVIEW - VOLCANO No. 12 CAST IRON DUTCH OVEN
SYNOPSIS & SPECIFICATIONS:
Weight: 19 lbS
Outside Diameter: 12 5/8”
Inside Diameter: 12 1/16”
Depth: 4 3/4”
Leg Height: 1 3/4”
Capacity: 8 quarts with approx 3/4" of head space remaining
The Volcano Grills No. 12 pre-seasoned cast iron Dutch oven arrived in attractive packaging and appears to be a production model rather than being cherry picked for review. My examination revealed what I consider to be above average casting, an exceptional finish, and adequate pre-seasoning. The domed lid gives an overall appearance of a hybrid between a traditional Dutch oven for camp/outdoor use and Dutch oven skillets/porcelain-coated Dutch ovens designed for use in home kitchens. In lieu of an integral cast handle on the lid, the No. 12 has the steel handle attached by two screws into nipples cast into the lid. Internally the lid has two “self-basting” rings. Externally the lid has a slightly raised “charcoal ring” located 2” in from the outside edge designed to hold briquets/wood coals along with two small ears for turning the lid.
NARRATIVE OF USE/PERFORMANCE:
To say I was intrigued by the appearance of the No. 12’s domed lid is the understatement of the year for this old traditional cast iron cook! Lacking the flange on the very outside edge of the lid for holding charcoal/wood coals, I was very skeptical of its heat distribution dynamics! I know of no better method than baking bread to test the heat distribution characteristics of a piece of cast iron cookware.
I mixed up a big batch of our Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread for the inaugural use of the No. 12. Due to the depth of the oven and its domed lid which magnifies the overall internal height from the bottom of the oven to where the charcoal briquets set, I chose a large sheepherder loaf to test the heat distribution characteristics.
While the dough proofed the first time, I rinsed the No. 12 out twice with very hot water to eliminate any foreign material picked up during packing/shipping. I then wiped the bottom and two inches up the side walls with canola oil and dusted the oiled surface with cornmeal.
The second proofing of the dough was done in the No. 12. A Volcano Collapsible Stove/Grill with Kingsford ™ Charcoal Briquets was used to bake the bread. The temperature was approximately 42 degrees with a very light NW breeze when I began baking. The briquets for the bottom heat were evenly distributed in the bottom of the Collapsible Stove/Grill. For the top heat I used a circle of fourteen briquets against the “charcoal ring” with an additional three briquets arranged in a triangle within the circle of briquets. During the one hour and five minute baking time I did not rotate either the lid or the base.
CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS:
The results of my real world test of Volcano Grills No. 12 Dutch Oven greatly exceeded my expectations! The photo of the finished bread shows unequivocally the great heat distribution characteristics of this oven. The evenness of the color surprised me because of the ambient temperature and the slight breeze. The use of Volcano Grills Collapsible Stove/Grill which provides uniform bottom and side temperatures is the reason the bottom and side crust of the bread showed exceptional uniformity.
Before using the Volcano Grills No. 12 Dutch Oven again I will re-season it with Camp Chef Conditioner at a temp of 450+ degrees for an hour to improve its appearance.
Volcano Grills No. 12 – Original Dutch Oven is the most impressive and unique piece of cast iron cookware I’ve seen in recent years!
© Cee Dub’s Dutch Oven & Camp Cooking Supplies, LLC, April 15, 2013