The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

ceramic brotform ?

Melistic's picture

ceramic brotform ?

Firstly, Hello~

I have been bread making for all of 6 weeks! I have been @TFL since about 5 minutes after I started. No matter what I google I end up here; so well done folks!  I have turned out dozens upon dozens of artisan loaves for the holiday season to rave reviews and 2 loaves everyone but my husband refused to eat... so I am encouraged :)

I cannot find the answers I want today and am more confused the more I read. 

I mistakenly took the appearance of bread rising baskets for ceramic. I'm spiraling into term confusing, so bluntly please - unglazed ceramic rising baskets ?  My original plan was to ask mom (a potter) for custom resters for loaves imprinted with my "signature symbol"

Can I rest/raise/proof/shape dough in an unglazed ceramic couche/brotform/banneton/basket ?

How would that work? flour/soak/cloth/not at all


Could I then bake it in said clouche/pan/stoneware? I am just starting to read on this

TIA, I love it here...


silkenpaw's picture

...whether glazed or unglazed. I would definitely put flour on the unglazed ones. I think glazed ones would need oil like plastic bannetons do.

If you want a signature symbol on your loaves, you can use a stencil to sprinkle a flour pattern on them. Seems more flexible to me than using a separate basket for each loaf shape and size. You can also develop your own signature way of slashing the loaves. I've seen some lovely patterns on this forum.

I don't think the banneton shape lends itself to baking in. The most attractive part of your bread in the one which is on top in the oven, so a loaf baked, essentially, in a bowl, will be presented with the ugly side up. Also the crumb won't be what you expect from a hearth bread.

Melistic's picture

i was assuming I needed unglazed because all of my fancy stone bakers and crocks are unglazed ??? 

good to know on the last paragraph, helpful

silkenpaw's picture
silkenpaw I don't even know what the last paragraph was any more.

Point is you can go with glazed or unglazed in this case, you would just treat them differently. The baking stone is unglazed so it can let the moisture get out of the bottom crust, making it crisper.

Melistic's picture


would unglazed pull too much moisture out of resting dough, do you think?

I have more glazed bowls she's made than I know what to do with, some with raised designs inside, hmm. o.k. I'll give one of those a go tonight to see how that works

silkenpaw's picture

...from the dough, not any more than a wicker brotform does.

Cool, having lots of pottery bowls at home must be fun. I adore ceramics, especially the rustic kind.

Trying is the only way to know for sure how something will turn out, so go for it!

LindyD's picture

Hi Mel, 

Welcome to TFL.  Here's a link to the very good TFL glossary which will get you acquainted with the names of things, like couche, brotform, banneton, etc. used in bread baking. 

You can certainly proof your shaped boule in an unglazed bowl, but how are you going to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl?  If you rub oil into the bowl, would the bowl absorb the oil?  If you try to flour a glazed or unglazed bowl, the flour is going to fall to the bottom.  

You can use a linen cloth in the bowl - with rice flour or a 50-50 combination of rice and AP flour rubbed into it - that will avoid the sticking problems.

Just some thoughts to avoid potential problems.

What types of breads have you been baking?  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I have a stainless shaker with a screen top and lid.  It contains a mixture of one part rice flour to 4 parts AP flour and makes it easy to dust bread forms.  Now the whole idea of the form is to absorb a little moisture from the outside of the dough ball so that when inverted, it keeps it shape better.  Think exoskeleton.  For a period of up to 4 hours, that's not too much moisture being drawn by the baked clay form.  The flour that you dust on the dough and the form works as a buffer to prevent sticking.

One could just dust the dough and forget dusting the form but then the traditional lines would not be so prominent.  Dusting the form, the flour sticks into the low ridges and gives the turned out ready-to-bake dough its "look."  After baking, if desired, some or none of the flour can be dusted off (outside or in the sink.)

Like clay, one can also experiment with engobes and slips made from flour and water/milk to decorate or identify loaves, brushing, dipping or hand painting or as mentioned using a stencil to guide the decoration.  Slashing thru an applied design might be interesting or dripped on decoration. 

I've just purchased a flour pot from IKEA that I plan to use as a clay proofing form.  It is unglazed but the surface was dipped into a finer clay making the surface tight and smooth yet a tiny bit absorbant.  A broken pot was in the store and that gave me the opportunity to see a cross section of the clay body so I knew it wasn't painted or treated.

You might also want to think about the idea of making medallions to slide under loaves as they bake, imprinting images onto the bottom.  Remove after cooling.  I haven't thought about putting a medallion on top of the loaf while baking but it is also an idea worth looking into.   If it gets oversized, or is a large plate... wait a minute, I have some relief plates I could bake on or invert onto a loaf...  I gotta go try an idea...  later...

Cclazar123 posted this once:

More if you search under   clay pot    or   clay baker   or   clay stamps


Melistic's picture


for the tips, suggestion and links help. I currently have 2 loaves of sourdough rising (or refusing to rise- jury is still out) One in a glazed ceramic bowl. One is a plastic colander. Both are buttered and floured; we will see how they bake up. I am curious to see how they look and Have less than full faith in the actual bread, first time I've made this recipe and I'm not so sure my dough isn't a brick. 

eta: the colander was a bust. I guess it formed and proofed ok but releasing the loaf left it pulled and NO design came through but it baked up nicely still

the glazed ceramic bowl I had worked better, the design is not as prevalent as I would have liked but it is swirly, so it's pretty-ish not OMG bakery quality looking

I believe both loaves may have been underproofed slightly, apparently sourdough IS  lesson in patience. I feel as if I could have left it on the counter for a week!

Time will tell when we cut into them for dinner! Thanks again for the help. I look forward to trying again