The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Earthenware unglazed or ceramic for bread baking

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AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Earthenware unglazed or ceramic for bread baking

Which is more ideal for breadbaking.

Earthenware unglazed or Ceramic?

What are the pros and cons of both?

andychrist's picture
andychrist

I take it you mean between terra cotta vessels such as the Romertopfs and those made from stoneware, such as là Cloche?

Romertopfs breathe, so the only way they will generate steam for the loaves inside is to be soaked prior to being placed into a cold oven, which is then set to the desired temperature. This method might work okay but certainly restricts the techniques one usually employs with high hydration/no knead recipes. Supposedly one can season the underside of the lid with vegetable oil as a vapor barrier and then just preheat the Romertopf without soaking it. But in my experience, after applying a dozen coats of oil, the lid was still too permeable and did a poor job retaining moisture, causing the tops of my loaves to dry and brown prematurely. Could have been doing something wrong because Eric over at Breadtopia got excellent results with his preheated Romertopf.

The là Cloche OTOH is never soaked, but may be loaded cold and thrust into a preheated oven; stoneware being non porous can take sudden heat and transfer it fairly quickly, compared to terra cotta. Many if not most bakers ignore the manufacturer's directions and preheat their là Cloches before placing their loaves inside, obviously with good results. Have not had the pleasure of ever baking with one but assume they hold in steam quite well. (Lid should be removed near end of bake to facilitate browning on top crust, of course.)

Have a Wilton stoneware loaf pan and it does a very nice job; only thing is it doesn't include a lid so have to tent my loaves with foil. Kind of a PITA, but at only around $15, a great value compared with the price of là Cloche.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

I'm asking on behalf of a workmate. He wants to bake soda bread and is pondering on which container to buy:

http://www.buysend.com/product/63937/2lb-stoneware-loaf-tin-durable-traditional-style-terrine-pate-loaf-baking-pan/?olo=googleProducts&gclid=COSR6N-vm74CFYbMtAodAzkAUA (glazed, £11:39)

http://www.johnlewis.com/mason-cash-terracotta-2lb-bread-form/p783434?kpid=232605260&s_kenid=7dfa5cbb-804e-e9c8-cb4d-00002ae45ae0&s_kwcid=129x51100&tmad=c&tmcampid=73 (unglazed, £8:00 - same one available at Debenhams, same price)

I believe they are the same but one is glazed and the other not. i.e. one is ceramic and the other is plain earthenware. He likes crust but not too crusty.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

You know LeCreusets Dutch Ovens?

I have one that is like a LeCreuset but much cheaper, £ 45.00 and well worth the money spend.

You can find those at Sainsbury's.

 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

As it turns out i'm also interested in a Dutch Oven for myself. Gonna check it out.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

They are WONDERFUL.

And they are, in my opinion just as good as the expensive one PLUS, the knob on the lid is Metal, where the leCreuset is a Material that would not be able to withstand the high temperature that it needs, so you  have to unscrew it, which makes taken the lid off after 30 Minutes a bit more difficult.

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Huh, soda bread is most traditionally baked on a sheet or shallow pan, not in a loaf pan. But soda based "quick breads" are baked that way. Been ages since I've attempted anything akin to Irish Soda Bread but would hazard a guess that if your friend is determined to bake a loaf shape, the glazed pan would work better, because it could be greased and also put directly into a hot oven. Otherwise a metal loaf pan might work best of all for soda bread, as it transmits heat the fastest. I think very sugary quick breads bake best in ceramic though because it distributes the heat most evenly and keeps the loaves from scorching.

There are others here with a lot of experience baking soda bread so hopefully they will pipe up!

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

I'll advise him on the metal too.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Thank you for that. Going to print out this post and answers for him. Sounds like the glazed will prove best for this type of bread.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I also have 2 Metal ones, non stick BUT I do rub the inside with vegetable oil before baking ,that ensures that the whole crust, not just the top is nice and crusty:)

Zoologuy's picture
Zoologuy

I like Lodge's ComboCooker (pre-seasoned cast iron) primarily for its flat top and lack of a central handle. This allows it to be used up-side-down so placing the risen dough in the preheated shallower lid involves less risk to hands from burning or to the dough from being dropped from a safe elevation. Amazon sells them for about $35.