The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Clay bakers & Hearthkit

Tony M's picture
Tony M

Clay bakers & Hearthkit

I'm a new member. I'm very impressed wih the depth & degree of baking knowledge & enthusiasm here. I only wish I would have discovered you sooner. I'm much into my thin crust, neo style pizza and my Hearthkit allows me to get a carmelized crust with great crunch and interior chew in just 6 minutes. It really does add many of the benefits of a brick oven to my standard home oven. But now I want to move on to breads and I just ordered a sourdough starter from King Arthurs.


My question is this: I read great things about the positive impact from using a LaCloche type clay baker on breads re. getting good crust/color/interior w/o the need for spraying due to the retention of humidity in the baker. Frumkin, in his bread blog, raves about his LaCloche and his bread photos back it up. I've also read very good press on what the Hearthkit does for breads including some very noted bread book authors. Here's my thought...what about combining the benefits of both....using the LaCloche top over the Hearthkit surface for the first half of baking and then removing to let the Hearthkit do its magic.


Any comments pro or con from anyone who has experimented along those lines?


Tony 

qahtan's picture
qahtan

Can't see the point of La Cloche top in Hearthkit. La Cloche has it's own base and the loaf is enclosed in it. Doing what you want it to do.


this was my sourdough loaf baked in home made cloche......qahtan


Tony M's picture
Tony M

Very nice qahtan. Did you leave the top on for the entire baking time or take it off at a later point in the baking?


Tony

ericjs's picture
ericjs

Well one point would be if he's already got the hearthkit in his oven for other reasons it saves him from taking it out. Putting a cloche top onto a larger deck also has the benefit of giving a bigger target for placement with a peel.


Tony, a lot of people here mimic a cloche top with roasting pans, dutch ovens, terra cotta flower pots with the hole closed up (with a wad of foil or a bolt and washers), etc. So you don't need to go out and buy La Cloche to try it out.


Eric

qahtan's picture
qahtan

You wouldn't get the same effect as you would with the  cloche. Like the difference using a hearthkit,  both it and cloche are clay or a type of  to counteract the steam.


 


 qahtan

ericjs's picture
ericjs

Well the flower pot is clay so it should have the same effect. But I'm not clear on what the mechanism is that you think clay will have that another substance will not. Clay will absorb some moisture, is that it? Is the idea that it traps the steam in the beginning but eventually absorbs the excess moisture so that later in the baking cycle it bakes drier for better crisping?


Many people who use a metal pan for this purpose talk about removing it after so many minutes. Does the clay enable you to skip this step?


I've been using an enameled cast iron dutch oven and leaving it on during the entire baking time, and my crust is coming out plenty crispy. I can't swear it wouldn't be slightly crispier with a clay top, but I should know in couple of weeks, as I'll be switching over to a clay top.

qahtan's picture
qahtan

Let us know if you see/notice any difference.......qahtan

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

I've read other posts here on TFL where people just put their dough on a baking stone and covered it with the la cloche top.  It looks deep enough to do just that, and you don't have to try to get the dough neatly into the heated bottom.  It's worth a try.


I find the la cloche too pricey for my budget.  I found an "apple baker" which has a glazed terra cotta bottom and an unglazed dome at my local thrift store for $3.99.  It works just like La Cloche.  Unfortunately, the bottom is a bit deeper, and the dome more shallow, so I can't use just the top by itself  I did try Rose Levy Beranbaum's (the Bread Bible) suggestion of heating the top, and allowing the final proofing of the dough in the (cold) bottom--it worked just fine.


Unfortunately, I was storing my apple baker on top the fridge (dumb, dumb, dumb, but no other place) and the vibrations from the washing machine on the other side of the wall made it jump to it's death :o(.  I thought about replacing it with a la cloche instead, but nobody carries it locally and the cost was still too much.  For $24.99 (including shipping and handling) I found a brand new apple baker on eBay that's on it's way to me. 

qahtan's picture
qahtan


 


 qahtan

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I have both Cloches and the Hearthkit (and a WFO to boot) and I feel I can make great bread in either but there are differences. With the cloche the humidifcation of the oven is not an issue for the steam from the dough is held under the cloche. I tend to feel the cloche bread is closer to WFO crust than the Hearthkit.


Steaming is critical to both the Hearthkit and to stones and can give results that are in some respects better than the cloche, and others not. The differences are pretty subtle except for oven spring which can be superior in a really wet oven.


My one caution for the commercial cloches is that they warp and don't seal especially well and if they are askew or the convection is on, they lose too much steam and the results are inferior.


Hope that's useful!


Jay