The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Clay/Ceramic, Plastic or Metal?

mangaholik's picture

Clay/Ceramic, Plastic or Metal?

Hello everyone!!
I was reading a couple of posts where people are talking about using baking stones and clay pots in the baking process.  It got me to wondering if there is a difference in the initial steps of bread making.  Does it make any difference whether clay/ceramic, plastic or metal mixing bowls and kneeding surfaces are used?  Will it make it easier or more difficult?  Does either of them make it taste better in the end results?  Can anyone answer these questions or give any suggestions?


sphealey's picture

I tend not to use metal bowls because of possible chemical interactions. Even stainless steel can react with certain cooking chemicals. This may or may not be a valid concern.


Between ceramic/glass and plastic, it just happens that most of my plastic bowls are mad of softer plastics which I find hard to clean. So I end up using the glass and ceramic most often as they are easy to scrape and stick in the dishwasher.


King Arther does have some nice-looking hard plastic mixing bowls and I would not refuse a set on any gift-receiving occasion!


I think a lot of it is just personal preference as to what feels best under your hands with the tools you normally use.



merrybaker's picture

I like glass, too -- those big Pyrex bowls (2.5 qt or 4 qt).  Put it in the microwave to warm the water, mix up the dough, let the dough proof in it, then turn it upside down for a see-through cover for a rising boule.  One-stop shopping. 

duckduck's picture

I've been using metal bowls. I haven't used much in them other than flour, yeast, salt and water but what chemical interactions happen with metal? What should you not use in it? I also use pyrex but my stainless bowl seem to be my fave. I agree that it's whatever feels good to you.

UnConundrum's picture

A little different direction, and as long as safety issues are adhered to, whatever your Grandmother used :)  Nothing makes me happier in the kitchen than to pick up something my grandmother used years ago to bring joy to our family. A little bit ago there was a thread on another forum about wood bowls and salads....  With glass and metal being so much more sanitary, and wood being harder to clean, the majority had long ago given up wood.  A smile just came to my face as I thought about how frequently I made a Caesar dressing in the wooden bowl I salvaged from my Grandmother's house.  From my Paternal Grandmother I have a huge ceramic bowl (must be at least 16 quart) that she used to make donuts (plenty of room for the dough to proof).  

mangaholik's picture

Everyone, thank you very much for your opinions and comments.  I have this love for anything clay or ceramic so I'll probably end up buying a nice set of beautiful ceramic bowls, bread pans, etc.
And that reminds me... for anyone who happens to live in or around the Houston area Chantal has recently open a distribution center and on Nov. 17-19 they are going to open their doors to the public for an "upto 75% off" sale.  I'll be heading down there looking for bakeware and possible Christmas gifts.
If anyone is interested, here is the link to Chantal's site.

mangaholik :o)

crishudson's picture

How about those wooden materials style, I have seen some of it at

MarkS's picture

I personally use plastic bowls because they are cheap. Metal bowls are fine, but nearly every metal is toxic in some form; not a problem for us for the most part, but potentially devesting to microbial life. Mixing in metal should be fine, but I'd avoid long exposure, i.e., bulk fermentation.

pmccool's picture

No, I wouldn't want to ferment my sourdough in a copper bowl or an iron container,  Stainless steel, on the other hand, isn't bothered by the weak acids produced by the sourdough.  There's no metallic flavor picked up by the dough and there's no difference in how quickly/slowly the dough ferments, compared to other containers.

Just be aware that any metal bowl is a superb conductor of heat.  If you put your bowl on a surface with nothing between to insulate, the heat will flow from the warmer dough to the colder surface or from the warmer surface to the cooler dough. 


MarkS's picture

Agreed, although I still prefer plastic. Definitely stay away from copper! It is highly toxic to all microbial life.