Hi. I'm a new member. I've read previous posts on using clay pots, but thought I'd ask for the most recent advice. I've been making hearth breads using a thick pizza stone, and introducing steam via a preheated cast iron skillet and ice (Rose Levy Beranbaum's method). I keep reading that a cloche makes superior bread, and I already have a large Romertopf that was previously unused. Per instructions regarding the clay pot, I made my last batch letting the dough rise in the bottom half of the pot, then soaked the top half prior to putting it in a cold oven.
I didn't the last time, and I think the loaf could have risen better. Does it matter much if I use hot or cold water in a cold oven? One of these days I'll rig some steam injection, but that's a ways down my project list.