I've never attempted any kind of whole wheat -- but am loving what cloches do with white breads.
Can I use a cloche for whole wheat? Adviseable?
~ Best to All!
Yes, of course.
I don't use a cloche, but a tin-foil roasting pan. It works just as well and saves a lot of time and energy as well as being a lot easier and safer.
I also thing you will be happy using a high hydration dough with whole-wheat rustic breads. I mix, preferment and then stretch-and-fold my 100 per cent hydration whole wheat dough before baking it. I bake a fresh batch about twice a week.
I haven't tried it yet, but I have been so pleased with the results of using my turkey roaster on my SDs in terms of oven spring, that I can't wait to try it on WW SD loaves. It might be just the mechanism to open up the crumb! I'm going to grind some flour today and start the process.
I make whole grain sourdough loaves in a cast iron roasting pan. I'm very happy with the results. It takes a special occasion to get me to make bread any other way. All the flour I use in the bread is fresh ground and the hydration is 90%. The flour feels like it can hold even more water but the bread is turning out great at 90%. I have been doing this once a week for 3 months now.
I rarely bake anything other than whole grain for bread. I have experimented with a few ways to cloche. I have a Pampered Chef stoneware quiche pan with a stoneware bowl that fits on top of it. I pour hot water in the bowl and let it soak for about five minutes, then pour out the water and invert it over the bread in the pan. This gives are really nice crispy crust. I've also used the enameled dutch oven. Both do a very nice job with the crust. My oven is a gas one, so the constant venting of gas means any steam I attempt to produce vents out quickly as well. The cloche/dutch oven method is the only way I can get a warm brown crispy crust.
I'd love to hear how you make the bread in the cast iron roasting pan! I am a firm believer in cast iron frying pans and I do have a cast iron dutch oven (4 qt). I love to bake pies and cornbread in my cast iron. I'd love to bake bread in my cast iron pot.
Just put your dutch oven in the stove to pre-heat it along with the stove. When it's good and piping hot, open the stove and pull the rack out or if you don't have a glass door on your oven you can pull it down to rest it on the door for more stability.
VERY CAREULLY bring your proofing bowl/basket as close as you can to your dutch oven and invert your dough seam-side down into it. (This means you need to proof your shaped dough seam-side up, mind you!). You could, conceivably, drop your dough in on a sheet of parchment paper if you've freeform proofed it.
What I normally see for breads that take about 45 mins is to bake covered for the first 25-30 mins and then uncovered the last 15-20 mins.
A dutch oven works great for making bread. I made bread in a dutch oven before I bought my cast iron roasting pan. To make the bread like this there were two things that I felt were important to the success of the bread. One it needed to be cast iron for the thermal mass and two the pot needs to have a lid to trap the moisture to steam the bread. I have been making high hydration bread in my cast iron roaster so the transfer is really easy.
Step by step here is what I do. I oil the roaster and put it into the oven at 425°F. When the oven tells me the preheating is done I take the lid off the roaster and scrape the dough into the roaster. You don't even need to push the dough around it will do that on its own as it cooks. I cook the bread for 45 mins with the lid on then take the lid off and raise the temperature to 460°. I take the bread out of the oven after one hour. The bread just falls out of the pan. I have tried taking the lid off from 10 mins to 25 mins then raising the temperature to 460° and they all work well but one time I forgot and it went to 45 mins and that is now my preference. Recipes that I use are all over the place. Just about any dough that you can mix together you can cook in a dutch oven. I started on my experiment by using the dough from Pierre Nury's Light Rye. I found a good starting point was a dough of about 2,000 grams for a dutch oven and the roaster has the same volume. The reason I bought the roaster is because it is shaped more like a loaf and the bread I make with it makes my sandwich for lunch everyday. I have shaped dough and cooked them in the roaster also but it is a little more work.
The crust is thin and crispy. The cumb is moist and tender with nice holes. The ingrediants for this 4lb 9oz loaf are as follows. The flour is all freashly mill with a stone mill and is 85% whole wheat, 10% spelt, and 5% rye. Water is 90%. Preferment is 25% at 50% hydration. Salt is 2%. Olive oil is 2%. Honey is 10%. Pumpkin seeds are 7.5%. Pinenuts are 7.5%. The first slice was very tasty. I have been cooking bread this way for four months now and really like it. I do wish I could find a cast iron pan that was shaped more like a loaf pan that had a lid but I never could find one.