The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Romertopf Clay Baker

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shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Romertopf Clay Baker

Hi

I was wanting to try baking in a cast iron dutch oven, but cannot find one here in Sth Aust under $250 odd, so purchased a Romertopf instead.  However, when I got it home, I noticed the inside lower part is glazed.  Is this suitable for baking sourdough loaves at high temp and do I need to soak, line or otherwise treat it against sticking?  I have noticed on this site some people place it with the bread in a cold oven, and I have also noted some who heat the whole baker in a hot oven and then place loaf inside, which is what I would prefer.  Instructions say the safe baking range is from 180-220deg C.

This is the only supplier of this baker that I could find, so my options are limited in finding an alternative.  I have a Le Chasseur enameled cast iron casserole (similar to Le Creuset) but I believe the black handles on the lid melt at high temps?

Would appreciate any help or suggestions.  Oh to live somewhere where I could access good bakeware and tools!

Sondra

Mr Scrogneugneu's picture
Mr Scrogneugneu

It's normal, I think most modern Römertopf bakers are glazed. At least mine is (the bottom part of it, inside). And it makes wonderful loaves. Don't worry about it too much. I never soaked it or oiled or anything, I just gave it a quick wash after unpacking for hygiene reasons, let it dry and then used it every weekend to bake. Make sure you NEVER pop it into a hot oven or it may crack from the shock. I always put it in a cold oven and let them pre-heat together, oven on full whack for 30min, and it works beautifully - and only then when it's blazing hot I toss my loaf in, covered for 30min then 10min lid off to brown the crust more if needed. My oven thermometer reads 250°C, and no problem so far.

Your bread shouldn't stick too much to it, but a good way to make sure it never does is to dust the bottom of the bread with corn meal or semolina flour, like you would for a pizza. Never ever sticks to the bottom with that!

Zoologuy's picture
Zoologuy

I echo Mr. Scrogneugneu's comment and experience with Römertopf and Cordon Bleu terra cotta baking. I shifted to Lodge cast iron combo cookers for their better handles; handling the smooth terra cotta lids with gloves always felt iffy.

Consider using the preheated La Chasseur pot without the lid and up-side-down as a cloche. This assumes you have a baking/pizza stone or at least a cookie sheet to support your free-form loaves. All of these suggestions will confine the moisture coming out of the dough and slow the setting of the crust to give your loaves maximal oven kick.

Michael

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

Enter "clay pot" into the search box upper left on this page.  Scroll down to the picture  of a caste iron (Lodge?) Dutch oven next to a red clay pot.  That clay pot thingy works quite well, is cheap, and you can make it in a variety of sizes.  Also, way cheaper than a Romertopf, I'm sure.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Romertopf at Goodwill - it was unglazed.I haven't baked with it yet but have it soaking in water outside so i can later this week.

You can take any large pot and turn it over on top as a cloche as others have said.  You can also remove the handle on the top and fill in the hole with aluminum foil  and use your DO.  I found a very cheap heavy duty aluminum DO at Goodwill too with a glass lid and bake in it all the time.

My instructions say to soak the Romertopf for 10 minutes in water and then put it in a cold oven so it doesn't crack .  I'm going to try a bake with loaf in it starting cold and see if that works as well as a i does in a DO.

Happy baking.

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

dabrownman,

I do the final proof in the Romertopf (also from thrift shop!) after spraying with cooking spray and place whole thing into cold oven and then turn up to 425-450 for 30 mins, then 10-15 more to brown the crust. Great oven spring this way. The one in the pic was to be sliced for sandwiches so I didn't bake it too boldly. Never wash with soap, since the clay can absorb it.

wayne

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

what size yours is buit it looks like my 901.  I'm going to put 1,475 g of dough in it pretty soon.  Do you think that is too much for 14 hours in the fridge and then letting it final proof tomorrow? 

 

shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and advice.  I didn't want to chance breaking it as it cost me $90!  Much cheaper than the cast iron DOs I was looking at (more than double that price) though. All this hassle for a loaf of bread .. it gets to you, this bread baking, doesn't it?  I am a home bread baker but am relatively new to sourdough, so am experimenting with different methods, all thanks to this great site, great recipes and helpful fellow loafers!  Have decided to start with the cold oven option and then try the pre-heat option and judge the difference.  I do have a pizza stone and usually bake with steam, so will try using one of my enameled cast iron casserole dish bottoms inverted as a cloche.  Can't buy cloche dishes here either so have to improvise.

Thanks again for the help.

Sondra

 

bobkay1022's picture
bobkay1022

I have some pix of the bake with romertoph. My last was 2 lb loaf. It was very large and hit the cover. I have never oiled the bottom. I used parchment paper. I have done both cold and hot.  Always had a nice crust and crumb.

This is the 2 lb loaf. Done last week.  2  loaves of Ciabatta bread for back up.

 

                   

 

  

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

My dough is 62% larger than your 2 # bake.   I will have to make it smaller by doing something else with the remainder.   A baguette sounds about right since I need to practice slashing as much as I can :-)

Instead of a baguette, by the time I shaped the loaf it seemed to fit perfectly at 1,475 grams and after baking it weighed 1,284 g a 13% weight loss duting baking.  It came out great at least on the outside.  Thanks for the help!

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

to soak only the top for 10 minutes and never to put the Topf into a hot oven.

I do my last proof in the Topf while the top is soaking and then put both into a cold oven which will heat up to 425F, after 15 minutes I remove the top and turn down the temperature to 395F.

Since your Topf is glazed on the bottom, you can make awsome baked chicken with it as well :)

Happy baking,

anna

PS:  There are several cookbooks in circulation for using clay pots, try Ebay, a lot of Goodwill stores sell their books for under $1

 

 

jkandell's picture
jkandell

The bread doesn't stick to the Romertopf if it starts cold?

i tried a cold dutch oven once and had to use baking soda to get the burned crust off!