The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Should I use steam or put a cloche on it?

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Should I use steam or put a cloche on it?

A while back I had a discussion with David about when he used steam and when he used a cloche (or something like that), and I think his reply was some like "I'm still working that out". I've been trying to work that out over the last 3 or 4 months now too, so I thought it might be a nice time to share my thoughts and get the opinions of other TFLers.


When is it better to use steam and when is it better to use a cloche (I'm using cloche here as a generic term for an inverted roaster, tin foil pan, Le Cloche, etc.)?


When I first starting using a cloche I was really impressed with how much oven spring I got. In the beginning I think I was putting an inverted roaster on nearly everything. But as time progressed I began to notice that some of my cloched loaves had shiner, somewhat thinner crusts and not-very-evident scoring marks, so I've gone back to using steam on most of my white flour and rye flour loaves and now reserve the cloche for only 100% whole wheat or high percentage whole wheat breads. For me, it is the whole wheat types of loaves that don't get a lot of oven spring and therefore tend to have a dense crumb and a heavy feel about them. When I put a cloche on these types of loaves, I get about 20% more oven spring and a much lighter crumb.


Many people have asked if it is possible to get a light crumb when using 100% whole wheat flour. My experience is, "Yes" as long as you use a cloche. And I grind my own flour as well.


Another factor in deciding not to cloche my white flour loaves is their slackness. I esp. notice disappearing scoring when using a cloche on slack dough no doubt owing to the increased moisture level from the dough and the cover.


For the record, I'm using an electric oven that is well insulated, holds its heat and steams OK.


(Sorry about the picture quality--these were taken with my old camera.)


100% whole wheat loaves


Uncloched



Cloched



--Pamela

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Interesting topic, Pamela.  I haven't baked enough to have an opinion myself.  One limiting factor, of course, is shape.  Hard to find something to cover a stone full of baguettes.  Easy to do a boule.  I'm particularly interested because I've broken my stone and I'm about to replace it and I'm thinking of one of those stone/cover/steam generator dojobbies <- technical bread term. 


:-Paul

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I broke a whole bunch of cheap stones but then I bought a more expensive one and I really like it. Plus it is thicker and bigger. I doubt it will break. It was worth the extra bucks.


http://www.amazon.com/Best-Manufacturers-14-inch-16-inch-Pizza/dp/B000ORE0KA


I don't think you probably want to cloche baguettes, however. But you can use all types of things to cover breads (roasters, tin foil pans, etc.). All seem to do a good job.


--Pamela

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Hi Pamela,


I've had my stone for about 15 years, so I got my money's worth.  (in the years BTFL -Before The Fresh Loaf - I used a bread machine to make the dough and baked on the stone)  I've had my eye on the large (15" x 20") stone at fantes http://fantes.com/pizza.html#round   I like the idea of a backsplash to help me orient myself with the peel as to where the back of the stone is when I'm placing bread.  I like to bake baguettes on the top shelf and I can't see the back of the stone when I do it. Less likely to have escapees with a back lip.


Why, I wonder, do these stones have feet?  They get in the way sometimes of getting it to sit level on the oven rack.


:-Paul

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I've heard good things about the stone from fantes. Yeah, I pushed more than a few things off the back--usually messy stuff like pizza too.


The feet do sound odd--no clue why it has them.


15 x 20 = really nice size. If I ever break mine I'll consider that one.


--Pamela

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

from the fantes.com site...


Quote:
Old Stone Oven brand Pizza and Baking Stones
- Specially formulated clay is fired at over 2000°F, creating a surface with porosity that is ideal for baking pizza or bread.
- For added strength, without extra weight, the underside of the larger stones have feet.

Personally, I think the "feet" is just a gimmick to distinguish this stone from others. (I like the backspash though). Overall, it's a nice stone (I bought one several months ago)

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Great topic, Pamela,


I admit to having been skeptical about covering my dough while baking, when I first heard about it. For some reason I associated La Cloche with No Knead bread, whether that's right or wrong, and figured it was just a different kind of bread-baking.


For steaming purposes I tried everything, including Paul's dojobby steamer, and generally got decent oven spring, but I wasn't convinced that that was all there was. Somewhere along in my TFLing David (dmsnyder) posted some gorgeous loaves and mentioned a turkey roaster lid in connection with the oven spring, So I had to try it. And the first time I tried it I got more oven spring than I ever had before, and the result was dynamic ears and bloom and gorgeous expansion from the scoring, and a beautiful crust and open crumb, and in a word I was sold. (And since Susan from San Diego planted the seed in David's mind, I give credit to her as well.)


I don't find the improved oven spring limited to whole grain loaves, though that said, I bake with at least 30% whole grain most of the time, so maybe that's not a fair comparison.


I have baked (20% whole grain) baguettes (somewhat shorter than standard, maybe 17 inch) under the turkey roaster lid, and enjoyed the oven spring on those as well. Hamelman's 40% Caraway Rye as well, with good results.


Side benefit: I love that I'm not opening and closing the oven door all the time!


So I'll be following to see what others have found.


David


 


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I have been covering my loaves with, a turkey pan, steamer injector, la colche, everything.  What I would like to know...?  I have preheated the lids and also covered the loaves without pre-heating the lids...so far I think pre-heating the lids works best for me...maybe you are always supposed to pre-heat the lids...I don't know?...I would like to hear others opinions on whether to pre-heat lids for all loaves all the time..or maybe not with certain doughs?  There is one exception..I think about the la colche...where Iam a bit confused...the instructions that come with it say to put it into the oven with your dough in it...meaning not pre-heated..I have read where a few people have had the rather thin bottom of the bell la colche break..so I was always preheating my bell la colche with the oven.  Then I ordered the elongated..batard type la colche..well I have tried both methods...pre-heating and not pre-heating my la colche's...nothing has cracked so far.  I also sometime just use my stone and bell la colche lid..pre-heating both together.  I would like to know what others do and results of the loaves..oven spring..less, more, ect.. with or without pre-heating the lids? 


Sylvia


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I don't preheat my roaster. The oven is so hot that I don't think it makes any difference. I always get a lot of oven spring whenever I put the room temperature roaster on top of the dough.


--Pamela

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Hi Sylvia, I always rinse my ss mixing bowl with really hot water before covering the boule, because that is what Susan told me to do! And I'm not very venturesome so I usually follow directions. Works well for my sourdough, great oven spring and even ears at times. If you check out Eric's videos at Breadtopia you will see him preheating the cloche tops and bottoms with good results. Not sure that this answers your question but I'm sure you will get lots of opinions, A.

arzajac's picture
arzajac

A tin-foil roasting pan doesn't require preheating.  It cools off in less than two minutes and that allows for easy handling.


The aluminum reflects the heat (radiation) instead of storing it and then passing it along (through convection and evaporation) as in a conventional cloche, so it is quite energy efficient.  So I would say that preheating is required when using a conventional cloche - just as you need to preheat an oven stone.


I have had success with only preheating the oven and oven stone for 20 minutes when using the tin-foil cloche.  I leave the tin-foil cover on for 5 to 10 minutes.   I think I can acheive slightly better results using a conventional steam pan, but I'm not interested in that since it is too engergy-intensive.  I'm also not really intested in overbrowned bread.  I find really dark crust unapealling, but you can achieve that using this technique by playing around with the time spent with the cover on and off. 


At the prices I pay for flour, water, salt and yeast, electricity is the most expensive part of my bread baking.  It's also the part that has the highest environmental footprint and so anything I can do to make it more enviro-friendly is of interest to me.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I'm baking some bread now and I'm going to use the tin foil cover and only pre-heat my thick stone for 20 mins.  I also think it's just a waste to use any more heat that needed...especially now with summer here and the air conditioner running!  I hope that will be long enough for the stone to get good and hot!


Thank you, arzajac!


Sylvia

qahtan's picture
qahtan

 


http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y58/qahtan/bake/sourdough.jpg


 I some times use La Cloche, either my home made one or Sassafras.
But I use both the same way.
I place my dough (loaf) on the bottom of the cloche, mist with water, leave to rise on counter top, when ready place lid over dough, place all in hot oven and bake.
I don't soak my cloche, or heat it in oven before using, which I think would cause serious burns.
I just follow the direction that came with La Cloche.qahtan

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Sure, every baker here has an oven - but what kind? The quality of the ovens used by TFL bakers is all over the map.


We can start with whether an oven is gas or electric. Gas ovens, especially lower end gas ovens, generally cannot hold steam as well as an electric oven. This has been confirmed by many TFL posters.


But we need to go beyond the gas vs electric factor. How well insulated is the oven? How tight is the door? How quickly does it come to heat? How long can it really hold steam (if you're not using a cover). What is the oven size?


I hope that those who respond will go into *detail* about their ovens.


Perhaps you could start by telling us about your oven. I, for one, would really appreciate it. TIA.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Hi Tia,


Why don't you start it off with a description of your oven?


:-Paul

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I actually have 4 types of ovens...but for now Im just interested in finding out about covering during baking..what method everyone uses!


Sylvia

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Thank you all for so many great answers!  Looks like I have tried all the above at one time or another!  One thing I would not do is put water on my clay bakers.  I do spray some water on the inside of the metal turkey pan lids..whether I have used them pre-heated or not pre-heated.


But one thing I worry about is..the oven stone needs to be hot in order to serve it's propose and give a good oven spring.  I pre-heat my oven stone for nearly an hour at the least amount of time. 


Like arzajac, I do not like using up extra energy that is not needed..the longest pre-heating I do for my stone is when I make pizza's..and I have found it does make a difference to have the stone really hot...but Im just at a loss to decide on how long is long enough to heat the stone for baking loaves of bread.  I wish there was a way to measure the heat of the stone when it reaches the same temperature as the oven is set for...I do not have one of those expensive lazer thermo.  but I think I might have to invest in one..it would come in handy for the wfo and I think it's the only way to really judge when the stone is hot enough to bake bread under a cover!


Sylvia 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I've bought a number a thermometers to measure the oven temperature and find that it does indeed take about an hour for the temperature to max out.


Unfortunately I always forget the thermometer is in the oven when I clean it. I can't tell you how many I ruined that way.


--Pamela

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I burned up mine in the wfo....it takes a hour to heat up right for my pizza...any less I can notice a difference too!  I think Susan has a great oven...she says her oven has trays and she doesn't need a stone...great oven!  I have seen it discussed can't remember exactly which forum...but that baking on a cookie sheet works as good as a stone!!  I don't know..have never tried that with a cover.  I'm not sure how that would turn out..I would hate to waste a good loaf finding out!


Sylvia

xaipete's picture
xaipete

It does sound like a great oven that Susan has, but I don't think you have room for another oven, Sylvia. :-)


--Pamela

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

"lol", I didn't count the bar-b-q...can I count the bar-b-que? "lol"


Sylvia

Pablo's picture
Pablo

A number of people have referenced IR thermometers, which, I believe, measure the surface temperature of what you aim them at.  And not too expensive.


For example:   http://www.amazon.com/Actron-CP7875-PocketTherm-Infrared-Thermometer/dp/B000FJR0SG/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=automotive&qid=1247534106&sr=8-5


I imagine some folks have definite models to recommend.


:-Paul

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Thank you for the reference..this is a good price...I have seen some very nice ones for around 60 and up !

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Hi Sylvia,


Now I'm convinced that I need this:


http://www.amazon.com/IRT0421-Non-Contact-Infrared-Thermometer-Targeting/dp/B0017L9Q9C/ref=wl_it_dp?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2K4HXDB8LCVS&colid=5EIG3GYX6WW0


And I don't even have a wood fired oven to play with.


:-Paul

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

My daughter has one..different brand...!  For wfo..you point them at any of the walls, floor, ceiling and get an instant reading, very cool gadget!...I've been using my hand and counting..not the same!


Sylvia

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Thanks, Paul, for this link. I've always wanted one of these.


--Pamela

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Hi Pamela,


I've been very lax about temperatures in my baking so far.  I've noticed that temperature has a dramatic difference on how long it takes a refreshed starter to peak, but somehow it just hadn't penetrated my consciousness that the whole fermenting/proofing process is extremely temperature dependent as well.  I crab about inconsistencies, yet I haven't monitored the environmental temperatures at all; I've just figured to keep an eye on things and when it doubles, it doubles.  No more.  I'm working on Hamelman's 40% caraway rye right now and I kept the initial rye sour starter in a 70F water bath overnight.  I used my digital oven thermometer to check the dough temp after kneading.  This IR thermometer seems like just the ticket for convenience, and I especially look forward to checking the temp of the baking stone surface.  Is that hour-long preheat really necessary?  At what point does the stone achieve 550F?  I'm now officially onboard the IR train.  toot toot.


:-Paul

xaipete's picture
xaipete

OK I'm sold. I'll order it today. At least I won't burn this one up in the self-cleaning cycle.


--Pamela

Pablo's picture
Pablo

We'll be IR buddies.  Off to Amazon right now.


:-Paul

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I had to do a little more checking..but I think this is a great buy and free shipping!  Also temperature reading will go high enough to be ok for the wfo..though it can heat up to over 1000F..Thanks Pablo for finding this one...I have no more reason to procrastinate getting my Lazer IR.


Sylvia

Pablo's picture
Pablo

I just ordered it myself.  We could all 3 get together and play IR laser tag or something...  Amazon is such a scoop sometimes, eh?  I thought of your wfo when I saw the 900F+ temp range.


I just ordered that 15 x 20 stone from fantes as well.  Once everything arrives in WA then I drive down and pick it up.


:-Paul

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Now I will know not only what my wfo is doing..but I can check my indoor stone and be able to decide how long to pre-heat!  That makes me very happy!


Sylvia

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I just ordered it, Paul, and got totally freaked out because there was a new name in my amazon address book with a hidden address. I changed my password and called amazon only to find out that it was you. You appeared there because I ordered through your link and it was on your wish list.


--Pamela

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I got Paul's wish list too! 


Sylvia

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi Sylvia,


As subfuscpersona pointed out, we all have different baking equipment, so there are lots of variables that differentiate our baking experiences, beyond the different recipes we use.


I wanted to point out that I only preheat my oven for as long as it takes for it to get up to temperature before loading the bread into it. I have a good thick baking stone, use a turkey roaster lid (room-temperature), and the oven is moderately priced and uses gas for fuel. (I offer this, in part, because I think we all need to consider our energy use.)


When I have two sizable loaves to bake, which won't fit in the oven at the same time, naturally I bake them in series. I don't notice a difference in oven spring when using the roaster lid, in spite of the fact that the second loaf is getting into a more fully preheated oven. They will both jump in the oven and usually deliver a nice open-textured crumb and delicious crust as well.


I am curious to hear from other bakers on this subject.


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

David, Thank you, that's what I wanted to know..my stone is also very thick and I use pretty much the same method with the turkey lid, except I have been preheating the oven much longer...I'am very glad to hear that pre-heating just up to oven temperature works!  I think pre-heating with my convection turned on helps the stone get hotter much faster too!   Nearly all of the time, I bake large loaves and do one at a time !


Sylvia

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi Sylvia,


I think our bread baking methods are similar, and perhaps our ovens are as well (though I only have one :-(  )...


I was concerned about preheating the oven for an hour when baking serially, and to be honest I just wanted to get on with the job, so I started popping the first loaf in when the oven beeped "Ready!". I too use convection, and that may help the preheating. When I still got huge oven spring with the roaster lid (spritzed inside, for sure!), I was quite happy about the limited preheating.


I agree too about pizza: the stone needs to be HOT! Some people finish the pizza preheat with the broiler for a few minutes. (I don't bake that many pizzas, 'cause we have really amazing pizza here in New Haven. Lots of Neapolitans settled here in the early 20th century, and quite a few built large wood and coal-fired ovens, which get mighty hot.)


I don't doubt what Eric said about the temperature of his baking stone (because I trust him in all things baking). That said, my baking stone holds the heat very well, so I wonder if all baking stones aren't created unequal? More to the point, I don't like using sheet pans for baking bread. Been there, done that, don't like the results. Since I don't extra-heat my baking stone, it doesn't change the energy use, except that I think using the stone probably shortens the bake on the second loaf by a minute or two.


Thanks again to Pamela for starting this thread!


David

AndyM's picture
AndyM

I think the comment above about the types of ovens we all use is a good one.  I currently use a standard issue Amana gas oven that's about 7-8 years old.  In the past, I've used standard electric ovens as well, and I worked with home ovens of vintages as old as about 1975.   In my experience, the biggest issue is not the heat source, but the ventilation - most home ovens (at least in America) have a good amount of built-in ventilation.  I think that this is intended as a safety mechanism, so that heat and pressure (and, I suppose, gas) can not build up to unsafe levels.  However, for the bread baker, this poses an obstacle - all that venting allows our precious steam to escape at crucial moments.  I used to spend lots of time trying to figure out where all the vents are in my ovens, and systematically finding ways to block those vents while baking bread (disclaimer: please don't try this at home - I do think those vents are there for safety, and no one wants their oven to explode...  Besides, I think I have an easier way, described below).


Commercial bread ovens also have a vent, but it is controllable - when the oven is loaded, steam is "injected" into the oven (the mechanism for this injection varies depending on the style of the oven), and then, a certain number of minutes into the bake, the baker opens the venting mechanism to allow the steam to escape.  The two main things that are varied are the amount of steam introduced at the beginning, and the timing of the venting.


For the home baker, we have to improvise most of this - steam can be tricky to produce in sufficient quantaties, but even if you can make the steam, your oven might be venting it all out before it really does its job.  Then, the actual venting of the steam might include opening the oven door and dropping the temperature inside the oven.


With the covered pot (or cloche) bake, I think we are still getting steam, but we are getting it from somewhere else.  Because the pot is very hot when the loaf is put it, the outside of the loaf starts to get very hot very quickly.  In fact, some of the water in the loaf evaporates, turning into, ...well, ...steam.  The beauty of the covered pot is that it keeps all that steam being produced by the loaf itself right next to the loaf's developing crust.  This provides for a nice level of moisture during that crucial first stage of baking, when spring occurs, and when important aspects of the crust are set.  Then, to vent the steam mid-way through the bake, the lid of the pot can be removed, with the oven's built-in venting system doing exactly what it's supposed to do by allowing the steam to escape, even with the oven door closed.  I've baked in at least 20 home ovens, and I've found the covered pot to perform remarkably similarly acoss all ovens, while manufacturing adequate steam for a baking stone has proven to be an effortful engineering task that has to be re-thought for each separate oven.  It can be done, but it's more work than I usually want to put in.


Now, for the differences you note in the final crust between cloche-baked and "steam-baked" loaves: perhaps these are from variability in the two main parameters of steam - the amount of the steam and the timing of the venting?  Could the cloche be producing more steam than you can manufacture in your oven?  This would produce the thinner crusts you describe, and perhaps a somewhat "glassy" look to the crust.  Perhaps there would be a way to reduce the amount of steam in the cloche?  Maybe put the lid on so it doesn't fit perfectly, thus allowing some of the developing steam to escape? I have a built-in experiment going in my oven, because I use two pots - owing to an accident last year, one of them has a chip broken out of its side.  I was very worried that it would no longer bake decent bread, but instead I have found that it just bakes slightly different bread - the crust is a bit thicker, and less brittle than the bread that comes out of the pot that has no chip.  It ends up looking more rustic, with more tendency toward darker colors in the crust - more browns and fewer goldens/reddishes.  I chalk most of this up to the built-in loss of steam from having a small hole in the pot that vents some of the steam.  I also happen to like both types of crust, so I am a very happy baker these days, and I will not be repairing my broken pot anytime soon.


The other variable - the timing of the venting, can also be controlled with the pot, just by removing the lid at a different time during the bake.  I usually vary this parameter in response to the level of proof the loaves had before going in the over.  Younger doughs get a few more minutes with steam, and older doughs get a few fewer minutes with steam.


So, while it does not suit every need (some loaf shapes, such as baguettes, are very difficult to bake in pots/cloches, and some people just prefer a different look to their final products), I have found the covered pot to be a surprisingly elegant solution to the difficulties that home ovens have presented over the years.

xaipete's picture
xaipete


 Could the cloche be producing more steam than you can manufacture in your oven?  This would produce the thinner crusts you describe, and perhaps a somewhat "glassy" look to the crust.  Perhaps there would be a way to reduce the amount of steam in the cloche?  Maybe put the lid on so it doesn't fit perfectly, thus allowing some of the developing steam to escape?



As I was reading your post I was thinking the same thing! Your suggestions are very interesting. I'm going to try a tin foil pan with a hole in its top and see what happens.


Thanks for offering your various thoughts and experiences.


--Pamela

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Pam, How long do you leave you la cloche lid/roasting pan lid on for during the bake?  I have removed mine a different times...usually after about 15 minutes!


Sylvia

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Probably only for about 12 minutes. Of course it depends on what I'm baking. I'd say about 1/3 of the total time.


--Pamela

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Excellent post, AndyM! All on point.


David

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Here's a weird twist on the idea that the oven's ventilation system might be allowing steam to escape at the crucial moment.


My oven doesn't have one of those large fans on the back wall. What it does have is some type of fan under the electrical panel. It just so happens that that component of my oven is wearing out (it has been making a chirping noise off and on now for several months--husband thinks the bearing is wearing out in the fan). I've toyed with just trying to remove device. Any ideas on whether that might give me more steam?


--Pamela

AndyM's picture
AndyM

Hi Pamela-


I don't have experience working with ovens that use fans as a part of their ventilation - my ovens have always vented through holes.  Each oven has had a set of holes (usually at the back or in the ceiling of the oven) that lead to an outlet hole in the range surface (usually along the back panel or directly under one of the burners).  So the venting is passive, and this is effective because the heat difference between the inside of the oven and the outside of the oven will tend to make the molecules of air move from where it is hotter (inside) to where it is cooler (outside) rather than vice versa.  If your oven has a fan for ventilation, it is probably intended to make the venting go faster.  But there is probably still a hole, and the hole will probably still vent passively even if the fan is turned off (the other possibility is that the fan in your oven might not be for ventilation, but for convection (i.e. moving the air around within the oven, instead of trying to move it from inside the oven to outside)).  So I think that turning off the fan might create a bit of a difference, but maybe not a big one, in the amount of steam retained during your baking.  It might be worth trying, though with the same caveat I put in the post about blocking off the ventilation holes in an oven.  I figure that the ventilation is there for a reason, and that reason is most likely safety.  If an oven's safety feature is disabled, it might not work in the way it was built to work, and it could cause bigger problems than a dull crust color.  So please proceed with caution...

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Hi Andy. I thought about the fact that if I disabled the fan it might not work. I'll check out my oven some more and try to figure out where the ventilation holes are.


Thanks for your thoughtful reply.


--Pamela

venkitac's picture
venkitac

Excellent post, AndyM. I was wondering all these days whether La Cloche or pots supposedly works better because it traps the moisture in the proofed loaf and thus provides the steam effect. Thanks for confirming that too!

venkitac's picture
venkitac

So it seems like the tradeoff is (1) cloche breaks, is expensive, doesn't work for all shapes (2) you can't get all the shapes you want to into the pot easily (atleast not me, for sure). Given that, the catchall easy solution seems to be to use a big tin foil pan on top of the loaf, and remove it after 15 mins, then?

AndyM's picture
AndyM

I noticed that arzajac mentioned a tin-foil roaster above, and I wasn't quite sure what that was (I'm a baker, not a roaster).  And some others have referred to a tin-foil cloche.   Are these the same thing?  Does anyone have pictures of how tin-foil gets used in this method? 


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Andy it is just one of those cheap tin foil pans that you can buy at the supermarket to roast a turkey in. You just invert it on the dough when you put it in the oven.


--Pamela

ejm's picture
ejm

Thanks for this report, Pamela!


I noticed that the top markings I put on the boule almost completely disappeared after it was covered by a roasting pan. I loved the oven spring I got though.


Stars created by putting cooking cutters on top of the rising loaf. The cutters were removed just before baking. You can just make out the stars on the loaf that was baked with a cloche. But they are quite clear on the earlier un-cloched loaf that miraculously rose fairly well. I can only imagine how high it would have been if baked with a cloche!
bread baked WITH a cloche
boule  - June 2009
This bread did NOT have a cloche.
slack dough bread © ejm September 2007

 

-Elizabeth, (Eeek! It's summer!)

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Pablo,


The one at Amazon you refer to is identical to the one I use, in function. These are very helpful for many differing uses around the house. Being able to accurately measure water, dough, oven, refrigerator, room, proof box, daughters ear, BBQ grill all with a single click is unbelievably easy. As we all know just a few degrees can make a big difference when you are waiting for a natural levain to rise the dough.The IR Temp meter is the most used tool in my kitchen.


Soundman, your comment about pre heating a big stone for a long time makes me remember how surprised I was at how long it takes to heat and how quickly it cools off after loading dough. That's what made me try baking everything on a sheet pan.


Unless I am baking more than one session, I never use a stone these days. Even then it's iffy. There is very little noticible difference in the crust and oven spring with and without a stone. If you don't want to believe me, try removing the dough after 3 minutes, just long enough to shoot the temp of the stone under the dough. Then check again after the bake to see how warm the stone is after the bread is done. You will be surprised at how cool it is.


Eric

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Very interesting, Eric, about how infrequently you are using your stone these days (also the info about the IR).


Thanks for sharing this info; I'll try using a sheet pan for a while esp. now that the weather has turned so warm here.


--Pamela

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Thank you, Eric,  I knew I had read somewhere, sometime about someone..not using the stone but instead a pan..I wanted to hear more about this..Susan's said her oven has shelves and she doesn't need to use a stone!  The problem is I need a cookie sheet/pan large enough that my turkey lid will fit on it...what size pans/lids do you use?


Sylvia

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Eric, I know the stone drops in temperature  quite a bit when I'm making pizza's..it is easiest to see this..because they bake so fast and putting another right in to bake, I can see the difference in temperature change all the time just by watching how much longer it takes for the undercrust to brown..even noticeable in the wfo floor..I will place it in a little different spot than where the last one sat!


Sylvia

venkitac's picture
venkitac

A stone does hold a lot of heat, and after baking if the stone dropped in temp, all that heat did go someplace. Isn't it the case that all that heat got absorbed by the dough? If so, isn't that actually a good thing?


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Yes, I would say so..but in my case, I need more heat back in the stone for the next loaf or pizza!


Sylvia

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I did believe you, Eric, but just happened to have two baguettes ready to bake today so I tired out your method and baked them on a large, heavy lipless baking sheet that I preheated for about 30 minutes. The result? Great oven spring.


Thanks for the great tip.


--Pamela

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hi Pamela, I m going to do a couple of different kinds of loaves today...I guess I'll give it a shot..you wanna hold my hand, I've got my stones in the oven..it's going to be tramatic to take them out!  How did you steam your baguettes?


Sylvia

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Hi Sylvia. I put a big heavy half-sheet sheet pan (not the lipped typed) on the lower middle shelf (best position for my oven but yours may differ) and a lipped baking sheet on the rack underneath it. I preheated at 500º for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile the baguettes were proofing on the couche lined with parchment. I took them out, scored them, threw them in the oven, poured about 3/4 cup hot water in the steaming pan, reduced the heat to 460º, and let them bake for about 20 minutes. I got great oven spring.


--Pamela

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Hi Eric,


Why is the stone better for multiple sessions?


Thanks,


:-Paul


PS I'm not liking reading this thread as I await the delivery of a new (perhaps unnecessary) stone.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Yes, we need to hear more about how to use our stones now. My is very upset. It the first time it has ever been separated from its oven.


--Pamela

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I have an aluminum sheet pan that is slightly larger than the steel nonstick ones we have had for 30 years. I bought it from King Arthur a few years ago when I started to bake bread seriously and I always use parchment with it. It has a rolled edge that makes it strong and resistant to oil canning.


I do have a roasting pan that fits between the edges and also a SS bowl that will hold a single 1.5 Lb boule. Overall trying to bake covered while using a sheet pan is less than perfect. The restricted size of the pan and then the cover is limiting. When I have a project that I want to turn out perfectly, I generally plan to make 3-4 loaves, thus justifying the use of the stone. Then I'll bake in 2-4 sessions depending on the size.


Any time I make a pair of Italian loaves I use the pan. Large billowy long loaves that take up about every square inch on the pan. I had been loading them cross wise by hand using a peel or flipper board onto the stone. Then one day I accidentally dropped one off the back of the stone onto the heating element. What a smokey mess! Ever since that day I use the pan and have never looked back.


Eric

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

14" round pizza pan fits the large stainless steel bowl just barely to were the lip starts..the dark pan is 15" works with room to spare and so does the 15" pizza pan.  Also the LaCloche fits perfect inside the rim of the 14" pizza pan...just in case anyone broke the bottom of their Bell shaped LaCloche.


 


This is a thick heavier pan..just fits in my convection oven's width!  15" pan..the pizza pans I think are lighter but the handles would come in handy on this one.


Sylvia

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

here:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/4608/steam-injection-home-oven#comment-98309


The ice chips in the La Cloche REALLY work great.  Steaming any other way escapes with the glass-top electric range.