The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Homemade Cloche

Dwu3193's picture

Homemade Cloche

Bad news...I just broke my Cloche. Every once in a while, I used it when I just had to have the crispiest of crisp crusts that I couldn't achieve with the cold oven method. Since I don't want to shell out 40+$ again, I've decided to build a homemade cloche from a terra cotta flower pot and base. But, I'm not sure if the terra cotta is food-safe or not. There's a Joann's in my neighborhood where I can get the materials so does anyone know if their materials are food safe? How can I get the material safety sheet if the employee's over there don't know?

PaddyL's picture

There are a lot of books that have recipes for flower pot bread using just plain old terra cotta pots, clean and unused as plant pots, obviously, so you could easily fashion a cloche out of one the right size and it would be safe.

qahtan's picture



davidm's picture


The terra cotta used for flowerpots should be quite food-safe from the standpoint of being sanitary, so long as it's bare terra cotta and not sealed or coated in any way.

However, the terra cotta used for flowerpots may or may not have stability under repeated heating and cooling. Pottery designed to withstand big swings in temperature is made from clay usually mixed with ground-up clay that has previously been fired, or with sand (silica) sometimes. Terra cotta for flowerpots is often (not always) smooth clay without this additive. It's called grog familiarly, and gives the finished pot a certain elasticity to withstand thermal shock. 

So you may have cracking or breakage issues using flower pots in this way. You may get lucky too, though, as the clay used in the pot you end up with may have enough natural 'grog' content to get you by. 

Good luck. 

SylviaH's picture

Might be easier to just put a stainless steel bowl over your bread placed onto an oven stone if you have one!  Try might like it just as much as your La Clouche method.  Lot's of info on this site about covering your bread.


Dwu3193's picture

I'm gonna try the stainless steel bowl method but I'm not sure if using a clay cover or steel cover would be better. The first might be better because I heard that the more radiant heat the better. But I think that only more radiant heat from the bottom is better because the heat is supposed help increase the oven spring. Heat from the top would just form a crust sooner. If I use the stainless steel bowl, it might reflect heat away from the top of the loaf while keeping steam trapped. But, the steam trapped from both methods might be enough to keep the loaf from drying out so I'm not sure which one would be better. Anyone have any ideas?

Bristolian Bread's picture
Bristolian Bread

interesting question, As I understand it, part of the point of trapping steam under the cloche is that steam transfers heat into the loaf more rapidly than hot air (as well as affecting the starch at the surface of the loaf) so creating more oven spring early in baking (i've noticed this - can take the cloche off after 5-6 mins and the oven spring is there) so more radiant heat would be good.  I guess this is one to put to the test...i'm wondering about comparing the results of using a cold cloche to a pre-heated cloche, the difference presumably being in radiant heat.....

arzajac's picture

I have never been happier since I read this:


An aluminum foil roasting pan reflects the heat as opposed to using conduction.  I find it does every bit as good a job as my terra cotta pot.  It's easier to handle.  It warms up and cools down in about a minute so I'm not wasting much energy. 

I use it with a baking stone.

I highly recommend it.

davec's picture

If you have a baking stone, I'd try the cheap aluminum foil roasting pan as a cover.  If not, flower pots can be found cheap in the off-season.  I picked up two different sizes, with tray bases to match, very cheaply. Having said that, my black cast iron Dutch oven still does a better job with round loaves.

Karil's picture

Being unable to find a "clôche" here in the Provence, I've been using an unglazed terra cotta flower pot turned upside down with an unglazed terra cotta "pot saucer" (I don't know what the bottom part is called) as the base for a couple of years, and it is still in perfect shape. I even use the base, which is quite large, as a pizza stone when I make pizza or foccatia.

Before using the pot and base for the very first time, I washed them thoroughly with hot water and a scrub brush and put them into a cold oven. I then turned on the oven to 375°-400° F (preferably convection) and let them dry out for an hour or so. Now, I simply preheat the oven for half an hour together with the pot and base before putting in the loaf. I use a parchment paper sling to transfer the loaf to the pot, and I leave the parchment paper in the pot with the loaf. When I remove the loaf, I don't even return the pot to the oven to cool slowly, and this has not affected the pot up to now.

Being low-fired ceramics, terra cotta pots are quite oven-resistant and non-toxic. It is the glazes that one has to be careful about. Some glazes, especially in low-fired ceramics, contain chemicals such as lead that can leach into food, even if the ceramics are only used for serving or storing. So, don't used glazed ceramic ware for food or beverages, unless they are sold for this purpose. 

One advantage of the heavy ceramic over a steel bowl is that it maintains and gives off the radiant heat better. This also assures a more even temperature inside the mini oven that the clôche creates. 


ernadyanty's picture

Is a clay cooking pot, like in the image below, can be used as a cloche?


Clay Pot

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Well the problem with that is that it is larger at the bottom than at the top - you might have trouble getting the bread out.  It isn't going to come out in one piece.

ernadyanty's picture

Hello everyone, 

I decided to experiment using my clay pot that I had bought from a local marker for USD5. As seen in the post above. Rather than using the pot itself over the dough, I used the whole pot as a baking vessel and closed the lid on it. I had split my 1kg dough into two. The clay pot was big enough to hold the 500g dough. 

It came up perfect. Here's a photo of the finish product. Now it's just cooling down. a
Will slice it in the morning to see how it turned out. 

Granny713212's picture

Can I use a 13 inch pain de mie pan turned upside down to make airy french bread.  I think that might work...your thoughts..