The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Clay Baking--I have decided to throw myself under the bus!

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cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

Clay Baking--I have decided to throw myself under the bus!

       I have read with great interest the discussions about clay baking, La Cloche, flower pots, homemade cloches and Romertopfs.  I am a man of few means so I am not going to run out and buy a La Cloche, pretty as they might be.  But I frequent thrift stores and have accumulated various kitchen tools over the years that have confused and confounded their original owners who then cast them off unused or lightly used.  I paid $2.99 for my baking stone, which I thought divinely appeared on a recent visit just as I was interested in slack dough baking.  I have also never paid more than about $5.99 for new Romertopfs and have about a half dozen in various sizes.  I have baked bread and sourdough in these pots before and appreciated the "brick oven crust"  I soaked top and bottom, used Crisco in the bottom and proofed in the room temp bottom, placed all in a cold oven and baked at 475F. I am a different baker today and it bears a new look.  I have one "fish" Romertopf that is a longer oval that I have never used but am now excited to try.
     I have admired qahtan's homemade cloche everytime she has shared it and I believe its in the budget. So, what I am proposing to do for my own edification and for the good of all is to commence some clay baking comparisons.  They won't be necessarily comprehensive or scientific or "done by an expert' but I am willing to give it a shot.  I have a new 3.2 megapixel camera phone that I am dying to put to use and learn that end as well.


Let the trials begin!!


hinterhof


  

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Looking forward to your seeing your experiments...we love experiments here!


Sylvia

Drifty Baker's picture
Drifty Baker

I too found a Romertopf in a thrift store.  I paid $7.00 however.  I have only used it to make a New Orleans style, french bread.  The crust is fantastic.


Drifty Baker


 

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...Have been using the same Romertopf Clay pot for about 16 years now.
Highly recommend experimenting. Just try some crazy recipes in it.

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

Wisecarver, thanks for the go get 'em.  And by crazy recipes you were suggesting....?


h.

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

As promised I commenced my clay baking trials.  So far I have baked only one recipe--My Daily Bread, partly because I wanted to compare apples to apples.  I prepared two loaves in the Romertopf using a solid shortening as a lubricant as per Romertopf directions. They looked so lonesome and forlorn as I left them to proof.  I placed them in a cold oven and baked them at 475 for 45 minutes and removed the top to brown.  The loaves were okay but now with my recent experience, there was little jump in the oven as a cold start would prevent a rapid heat induced spring.
The second bake was the homemade cloche.  My first loaf was un-scored and unwashed and turned out the best.  I placed the cloche too close to the second boule sticking it to the side.  I also removed it too soon and tore the crust and deflated the loaf-rookie mistake.


Romertopf


These Romertopf loaves had no crispy crisp, tight crumb and were not weighed when divided.


 


Photobucket


This was the unwashed and unscored loaf baked under the homemade cloche. This was the best looking IMO and best tasting as well.  Starter was made last week. 


 


Photobucket


Crust was crispy. the crumb is what it is.


 


More later,


h.


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

At least I think it's looking very good!   Your Römer topf loaves look pretty decent too, they are wide because the pot is so wide.   Rich yummy golden color!  They look so buttery!  I'd be tempted to slice the loaves diagonally to eat.   ////


Mini

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

Thank you for that compliment I am even newer at photography than baking.  I have employed a neat trick I learned surfing Youtube.  It is a simple  homemade device for steadying a camera.  You tie a washer, in my case a shower hook, on a string as tall as yourself.  You step on the washer attached to the string and loop the other end around one hand.  You slip the string through your fingers while holding the camera until you get the shot composed the way you want it then keep the string taut while you make the shot.  Works like a champ.  When you're done you wrap up your "tripod" and put it in your pocket. Its really quite slick.


der Hinterhof

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

I am auditing a free course at a prestigious baking institute, The Fresh Loaf.  The courses are all self designed and taken at your own pace.  If you submit your work for review there is a near guarantee it will be critiqued by a heavyweight, offering praise and suggestions to improve.  That is exactly why I love this site.  I have really enjoyed learning up to this point and see tremendous potential for growth limited only by the time I spend doing the lessons.
     Mini O thank you for your encouragement it means a lot.  Next time I will cut the Romertpf loaves on the diagonal, that is, if the kids aren't around asking, "Can we eat this?"  What can you say--"  No, its for a class?


   I am so glad I discovered this site.  Its the people who make it what it is.

der Hinterhof


  

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

Mountlake Terrace, WA--  Today, a Mountlake Terrace carpet cleaner, known to dabble in bread baking, was seen to be going over the edge making multiple changes to a single recipe commonly known as "My Daily Bread"  Citing concerns over health, eating a diet of bread made solely of white flour, the cleaner, said a change was necessary.  Recent changes in technique, an inevitable shift to cloche baking, also led to the apparently sudden recipe departure.  When reached for comment the cleaner only reported, "I have been preparing this for a long time and it has been my focus all season and when I had the opportunity I just went out there and played MY game and got it done."
     Bystanders confirmed that they witnessed the cleaner adding whole wheat flour, bean water and oats to a full batch.  Others noted rye flour, flaxseed and caraway were added to another batch.  Most were too disturbed to comment directly to the press.  While the cleaner's whole family was away neighbors say they heard JAZZ music playing in the background as the cleaner did his deed.


Film at eleven.


h.


 

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

 


Well, it is really just after dinner but I spent nearly the whole day mixing, stretching and folding, proofing, and baking.  I wanted to break out of the mold I had been in, a rut really, baking only white flour bread.  I made adjustments to My Daily Bread Recipe including whole wheat, rye oats, flaxseed, caraway and kidney bean cooking water.   I continued to bake under the cloche for the boules and discovered my round baking stone just isn't big enough for two baguetts at a time. loking for that rectangle stone in the thrifts.
   What I learned:



  • I need a rectangular stone.

  • I need more practice scoring and a better scoring tool.

  • I want a bigger oven

  • I need to separate mixing and baking into different days (retard)

  • I very much like baking and sharing the experience on this site.


 


Photobucket


Two whole wheat boules made with oats and bean water


Photobucket


Rye baguette made with flaxseed and caraway on the left.   Whole wheat boule on the right.


G'night, h.