terra cotta / stoneware baking questions. I'm so confused!
I've been lurking, but this is my first post. I've learned so much here!
I'm building my first levain (which is failing miserably), and I have a fresh fruit yeast water ready to go! I have a pizza stone in my tiny gas oven. No loaf pans or metal breadware.
What I *do* have are 3 different terra cotta / stoneware cookers.
1- square Brique Ware (by nordic Ware, i think). The entire inside of the bottom piece is glazed. It is about 9"x9"
2- rectangular Romertopf. About 8"x4". It is completely unglazed. Tiny loaf size!
3- Unlabeled rectangular piece, very rounded. About 13"x5". The bottom is funkily shaped, and only the very center of the very bottom is glazed. The rest is unglazed.
I got all these at estate sales on the cheap, and all had never been used. I used #1 to roast a bunch of garlic the other day. Worked great!
My problem is that I can't figure how to properly bake bread in any of these! I've searched the site, and I've read about cloches, and how some people stick in a cold oven, and some preheat, some soak the terracotta, some don't. What's right?? The only consistent thing I've heard is to grease it!
The main source of confusion for me is that you're supposed to preheat your baking tiles or stones before you put the dough on to bake, but I can't figure how I'd wrangle dough into a tiny loaf pan that's been preheated to 450 degrees.
Also, are any of the above cookers even right for bread? Do I need to season the unglazed ones? Since #3 is so big and oddly shaped on the bottom, I may just use it for chicken or as a banneton / brotform.
Any suggestions? Help, please!