The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

COVERED CLAY POT

Janice Boger's picture
Janice Boger

COVERED CLAY POT

I bought a covered clay pot at Goodwill.  I want to use it correctly.  As I read online it says the pot must go into a COLD  oven.  I like to preheat the oven as you do with dutch oven cookery so you get a good "oven spring".  How do you do this with a clay pot?

carluke's picture
carluke

Hi Janice,
You will get lots of, perhaps, differing advice here, but this is what I do:
I soak my clay pot (top and bottom) in water for about 30 minutes before I am going to preheat. When I am ready to turn on the oven, I tip the water out of the pot and lid, dry them off a bit, put the top onto the pot, and put it into the oven. I then preheat, with the covered pot, for about 30 minutes.
When the preheat time is completed, I take the covered pot out (carefully!), take off the lid, place my dough in, slash the dough, put the lid back on and place back in the oven.
After 30 minutes, I take the lid off and continue baking for about another 10 minutes.
Hope this helps,
Janice!

Janice Boger's picture
Janice Boger

thanks so much for the hint.  I don't have much to lose, I will give it a try.

 

Jan

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Janice I must disagree with the advice to soak the clay pot. Here is a well known web site that has been on the front line of the No Knead Bread method. Eric sells and has many videos where he shows and talks about using a clay or ceramic cooker. He pre heats the cooker first and loads the dough then covers it. That's the way I have always used my cooker and never had a problem.

Eric

Janice Boger's picture
Janice Boger

Eric:

 

I don't want to belabor the point, just want to make a perfect loaf of bread.  Do you use parchment to lift your bread into the pot?  Or how do you do it?  

As I read your article, you don't soak the clay pot at all, just put the risen dough in and cook.  Sounds pretty easy.

 

thanks.    Jan 

 

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Jan,

I do leave a cut out round of parchment in the bottom but it is so well seasoned that it's probably not necessary if you dust well with bran or some rough flour product. You don't want to put the dough in with out some anti sticking plan.

Eric

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

There is really no need to soak the clay baker.  There is plenty of moisture in the bread to provide the needed steam.  If you are particularly worried, lightly mist the dough right before baking. Be sure no cold water gets on hot clay or you will have an explosion!

I do a hybrid of preheating the clay baker suggested by Rose Levy Beranbaum in the Bread Bible.  It's the easiest and safest way to use the clay baker and IMHO produces superior results:

1)  Put the LID in the oven and preheat it.

2)  Put the raw dough in the UNHEATED base.   You can do the final proof in there if you want.   (If you do something like misting the dough as I mentioned above, make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that there are no drops of water on the rim that will touch the hot lid!).  I like a piece of parchment cut to fit the base under the dough, to make it easier to remove the finished bread. 

3)  When it's time to bake CAREFULLY place the hot lid on the unheated base and bake for 1/2 of the total baking time.  Then remove the lid and continue baking until your bread is done. 

I think you will be pleased with the results--crisp, crackly crust and amazing oven spring.  Enjoy your thrifty find!

rftsr's picture
rftsr

RE the Rose method above. After putting the hot lid on the room temp cooker with dough do you put it right back in the hot oven? I'm afraid the bottom would shatter from the shock of putting in into a hot oven. Method sounds great but I'm a-scared!

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Actually, two things scared me:  1)  dropping the dough into a screaming hot clay baker base (somewhere, if you do a search, you will find a description of my "butt crack" bread--it's hard to get the dough positioned and the parchment paper wrinkles and folds on me) and 2)  exploding the clay baker if I tried the "Rose method". 

One day I just decided to go for the Rose method anyway, because I had a very soft dough rising in a banneton and I knew it wasn't going to survive the transfer to a hot clay baker base.  My clay baker is not a Sassafrass Le Cloche--it is a less expensive clay baker.  The lid is more shallow than La Cloche and the base is deeper, making placement of the dough tricky in the oven.  There is about a 3" drop into the base.  My base is also pretty thick clay and it's glazed, but I don't think that makes a difference because RLB describes this method using a Sassafrass La Cloche. 

The "Rose" method worked perfectly, and--IMHO--actually has the best results of all methods I've tried.    I've used that method ever since without a single problem.  No more dropping cold dough in a screaming hot base.

And here's how to do it safely.  I do not want to take the hot lid out of the oven and put it down somewhere, because contact with a cold or wet surface could be a problem.  I pull out the oven shelf, lay the lid on the open oven door, place the unheated base and dough on the shelf and then cover it with the hot lid. 

rftsr's picture
rftsr

Now I know how to use my new, well used re Ebay, clay pot cooker when it arrives next week. Sounds like the perfect plan to get a great rise and crust on my sourdough loaves with risking the clay cracking. Well, I know there's always a risk of that but I'm will to take it in order to get some super crusty, open holed bread...the holey part being what's eluded me so far in my sourdough adventures.

Cheers!

 

Niashi's picture
Niashi

Hmmmm, see this is the type of info I was looking for. I will certainly give it a try, although I may have screwed up my dough for the second batch (I made a huge batch, cut it to 500g bits and then decided that 1000g would be more suiting), I have 2 500g rounds in the fridge and am afraid I'll ruin it if I combine them for shape before cooking.

 

I use a Romertopf 111 which is unglazed. I tried to find info but I didn't find it, so I ended up putting the cloche, with dough in the oven cold and then cooking from there, also it was soaked. The result was an awesome crust, crumb was a bit moist, the scored areas were slightly uncooked and the dough burnt at the bottom and stuck to the cloche. also I was cooking at 500F, so it sounds like I made several mistakes..

I can't find my parchment paper, urgh.

 

Soo, don't soak.. preheat the cloche empty to 450 for 30 minutes, plop in my sourdough (made with 100% hydration starter), and just go with it basically, right?

Janice Boger's picture
Janice Boger

I have never been able to cook in an unglazed clay pot without a lot of sticking.  I would definitely use a piece of parchment and spray the clay pot.  My luck with unglazed clay was not good.  This is differenct than the Sassafras cloche.  The cloche does not stick.

Good luck.

 

Jan

 

Niashi's picture
Niashi

Thanks, I'll definitely go for it.

 

Since my dough is stone cold and it'll just go to waste anyway if it doesn't work out, I'll just try and see what I can get out of the dough in the fridge, but waiting for it to come to room temp to prevent shock.

 

Broc's picture
Broc

Using Peter Reinhart's techniques --

  • remove dough from fridge, cut off amount you need
  • rest for about 15 or so minutes
  • shape into loaf [it'll still be really cold]
  • proof [roughly 1-1/2 hours, depending...]

Then, "drop" it into your hot cloche, score and cover -- into the oven.

I have sometimes just picked up the dough and literally plopped it [like a snake] into the cloche.  I use parchment paper now, simply because it's easier, and I'm so lazy!  :)

Experiment with your oven, and you'll discover what temps work best for you.  I preheat to 450F,  Drop temp to 420F with lid on for 14 minutes.  Remove lid, and bake until done at 395F...

I find that lowering the temp doesn't "burn" the crust... staying at 450 [in my oven] burns the crust.

Most breads I target at 200F... 190F for eggey breads, like Challah.

 

 

 

 

Niashi's picture
Niashi

Wonderful, that's great. Thanks a lot. =.) In the process now!