The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

La Cloche Questions

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midwest bread's picture
midwest bread

La Cloche Questions

Hello everyone!

I wanted to first say thank you to everyone for being a part of such a great forum! It is a wonderful resource. I had a question or two for you La Cloche users out there. I recently ordered the Italian loaf la cloche from King Arthur and have read about several ways of using them. I was just curious what you all felt worked the best? Should I put it in cold as the directions say? Preheat the top, raise the bread on the bottom then slide it in as Rose Bernanbaum suggests in her book "The Bread Bible"? Or is it best to heat the entire cloche then slide the bread in and cover to best simulated going into a hot brick oven? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, -Scott

BROTKUNST's picture
BROTKUNST

First of all - good choice !

If you have a baking stone you don't need the base that came with LaCloche. I get the best results by placing LaCloche in the oven when I pre-heat the baking stone (let LaCloche overlapp on one edge so the heat can get under). Take LaCloche out, steam, place the loaf on the baking stone (Superpeel!) and place LaCloche over the loaf.Use LaCloche for the first 12-25 minutes, depending on the size and hydration of the loaf. Once you removed LaCloche keep the door cracked open about 3-5 mm. You are in absolut control of the browning and 'crunch' of the crust.

The ovenspring this tool and procedures give you is superb - therefore I never bothered to soak LaCloche. I have also two Italian 'LaCloches' or 'bakers'. Those work equally great for longer and narraow batards.

Personally I wish they'd make a larger, oblong Cloche but the existing ones work a charm.

BROTKUNST

kgreg's picture
kgreg

I tried soaking my LaCloche and it cracked in the oven...At least thats what I think happened. I went out and bought another but now I'm afraid to us it.  Any ideas on why it cracked?

BROTKUNST's picture
BROTKUNST

... main be the most likely reason - or the water heated up so  quickly in the clay structure that the developing steam busted the hardened clay.

You'll be absolutely safe using it 'cold' (room temp) or pre-heated.

BROTKUNST

kgreg's picture
kgreg

thank you very much will give it another try

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Hi, I love my LaCloches and use them often. I have the long baker one and it is shown here: PAGNOTTA 3 ways and a NYT SEMOLINA    Notice I baked the bread on parchment. What I do is form the loaf and let it rise on parchment in a oblong basket. Meanwhile I let the LaCloche get hot in the oven as it preheats. When the dough is risen I pick it up by the parchment and carefully put it into the hot baker. Put the lid on and bake about 25 min. Remove lid and finish baking. A couple of people on this site gave me the idea and it works great. I also preheat my round baker. I never use water and never let the dough rise on the cold clay baker. The bread has so much moisture that the clay doesn't need to be wet.  
Hope this helps. Enjoy your La Cloche.                                                                            weavershouse

kgreg's picture
kgreg

I am going to try the parchment paper idea.  Next weekend!!Cant wait--Thanks again

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

that my parchment was long enough so that I could pick up the risen dough easily and put it into a hot pot. Before I put the cover on I quickly trim the excess parchment so that it's not sticking out of the pot too much or it will scorch. Sorry I didn't make that clear.                                           weavershouse

kgreg's picture
kgreg

Weavershouse just to make sure I understand you, when you put your dough in the basket for rising, is the parchment paper in the basket then after rising you transfer the dough with the partment paper  to the hot clay pot?  Thanks

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

The parchment paper is long enough to extend beyond the basket enough so that I can pick up the parchment holding the risen dough and put it into the hot cloche. Usually I quickly trim the excess parchment off but sometimes I just leave it on and put the hot lid on over the dough but the excess parchment is outside the pot. If it's too long it might scorch. I think it makes things much easier. Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck. weavershouse

caviar's picture
caviar

I have the oblong La Cloche you show in the photo and am wondering how you estimate the amount of dough and the size basket to use. I used to proof in a round banneton then tip the raised dough into the hot La Cloche. I made quite a few misses and excess dough recipes for the La Cloche. The loafs usually came out to taste fairly good considering my lack of expertise in bread making but I was discouraged abpout the messy loaf and awareness that I didn't really know what I was doing. I would love to be able to make bread that looks like yours.


Caviar

midwest bread's picture
midwest bread

Thank you all for the input. I am definitly looking forward to getting my la cloche. It has been on my list for a long time. Weavershouse, do you ever have problems with the parchment sticking? I seem to recall reading somewhere that it might. Also, it sure does seem that spinning/weaving and bread baking go together. I don't spin but weave on a 6 1/2 ft Navajo style verticle loom that I built. It must be something about working with your hands and creating.....Thanks again! -Scott

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I'm so glad to meet another weaver. I never tried a Navajo loom but always thought they were so interesting. And you built your own, that's neat.
As far as the parchment goes I've never had it stick to anything and I really don't think you have to worry about it doing that. It would stick to the wet dough somewhat but not after baking. I wish there was a place to buy parchment at a better price. I try to reuse it but after just a couple of uses it gets too brittle and has to go. I wonder what it's made of...but then again, maybe I don't want to know. :) weavershouse

edh's picture
edh

I don't know how much you're spending, but I use a brand called If You Care that sells in my co-op for $3.65 for a 70 sq ft roll. It's unbleached, and uses silicon for a coating, instead of quilon. That's it's big selling point, as being environmentally friendly. Not being a chemist, I have no idea what quilon is, but the paper works really well, and I can generally use a sheet 2 or 3 times before it gets really brittle or burns.

edh

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I Googled If You Care Parchment Paper and found that Amazon has it but is currently out of stock. Price for 5 is $14.73. That's a great deal. Thanks so much for the info. I will keep checking back with Amazon if I can't find another source. I like that it's environmentally friendly. Thank so much.                                                                                                        weavershouse

ehanner's picture
ehanner

For dough in the 60-65% hydration range I spray water around the dough, onto the paper just before I load the dough onto the stone. Then when I place the La Cloche bell or 4L bowl over the dough there is a little added moisture in the bell for the first minutes of covered baking. Don't do this after the dough is loaded or you will risk cracking the stone. Works for me!

Eric

JenT's picture
JenT

Another great source for parchment is www.surfasonline.com.  They sell pre-cut sheets in pack of 250 for $13.50.  They used to have packs of 100 for around $5.95 but I guess they discontinued that.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

The link above for Surfasonline is a great site. I spent a little time looking at the variety of items they sell. Good prices for some things you don't normally see. Also a nice variety of specialty flours.

Thanks.

Eric

dwg302's picture
dwg302

is there any danger with large sheets of parchment catching on fire?  i tend to use silpain the non stick mats.   they are totally non stick and can tolerate very high oven temperatures.   

mattie405's picture
mattie405

I went to the local restaurant supply last year and got a box of full sheet pan size parchment sheets that I then cut in half. The 1000 sheet pack was around $30 and I haven't even began to put a dent in the box yet and I use then for everything.........even the grandkids drawing! I usually just grab a stack out of the end of the box, fold it in half then just slide an old knife thru the center of the fold. I don't like the parchment on the rolls because it seems to always want to curl up on me as my hands are full.

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I'm going to call the nearest restaurant supply and see if I get lucky.weavershouse

BROTKUNST's picture
BROTKUNST

Scott,

 

here is an example how you can control the crust with La Cloche - both loaves come from the same batch. Both are bake under a pre-heated Cloche (500F) with brief steaming before conveying the loaf into the oven.

The darker loaf was bake at 500F all the way to the end - 18 min with La Cloche, 8 min without. The darkening of the crust developed in the last 8 minutes.

 

The lighter loaf was baked at 450F - 20 min with La Cloche and 8 min without.

 

(After removing the Cloche I kept the door cracked open to finish baking in a a dry environment.)

 

 

BROTKUNST

anomalink's picture
anomalink

My La Cloche base has developed a crack.  I don't know how, but there it is. It hasn't broken, but still, before it does I'd like to avoid having to buy a new one by reinforcing it somehow. Any thoughts?

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

There is no need to soak a clay baker like La Cloche.  It works by trapping the moisture in the dough that's already there.  If the dough is on the lower end of hydration, you can spritz the dough with some water first.


Following the directions in the Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, I preheat the lid in the oven, but proof the dough in the unheated base.  When it's time to bake, I put the base in the oven and cover it with the preheated lid.  I was skeptical at first but it works great and no more scary transfers of slackish dough into a screaming-hot base. 


My clay baker's lid (not La Cloche) is not deep enough to cover dough directly on the stone, but you can sometimes dispense with the base altogether  using La Cloche if you don't have a very high bread.


To clean your clay baker, remember to let it cool thoroughly and wipe with a damp sponge--no soap or other chemicals which might absorb into the porous clay. 

Casper's picture
Casper

I just bought a La cloche and didn't read the directions first.  I washed it with dish soap and after I saw the directions do not wash with soap.  Did I ruin my La Cloche?  I rinsed it really good afterwards.  Thanks! Casper

whitedogmum's picture
whitedogmum

I love my La Cloche for Panettoni and other crusty breads.  I purchased mine about 6 years ago when my panettoni came out flat and small.  Same recipe fills my La Cloche to the lid and to the edges without making big air holes in the bread.  I have since purchased a second one.  I put my kneeded dough in it and place it in front of the wood stove with towels over it to raise, roating it every 15 minutes, then into the oven it goes.  By the time the second one has come out of the oven the first one is ready to be placed in the oven again.  My rotation is about once every hour which allows for kneeding, raising time and then after cooking cooling time.  Hope this helps.

all things bread's picture
all things bread

I have two of the Sassafrass La Cloche bakers. A rectangular and round.  After reading all the posts, I am totally confused....so please bear with me.

I have done my second rise in both a bowl lined with parchment and also a parchment lined basket; however, the dough is so heavy to move into the Cloche, that my dough folds in the middle of a rectangular loaf and sort of deflates.  I am also afraid to just dump it out of the basket for fear of it deflating....again, due to the weight, it will just plop into the Cloche.

I don't really like using the parchment paper, as it crumples up and ruins the shape of the loaf.

Now, if I am understanding this correctly, if I preheat my Cloche (which is what I have been doing) and put some cornmeal in the bottom and put my risen dough directly into the hot Cloche, it WILL NOT stick.  Is that correct?  Also, do I have to dust the dough with flour so that it doesn't stick to the sides?

One more thing, if I just place a piece of parchment paper cut out the the shape of the Cloche in the bottom, will that keep the bottom and sides from sticking in a preheated Cloche, or will the sides stick because there isn't any paper?

I apologize for being a little long winded, but I am trying to sort this out.

Thank you for your input.