The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from the Berkshires, near Great Barrington MA

tigressbakes's picture

Hello from the Berkshires, near Great Barrington MA

Hello everyone,


 I am excited to find this site as I need all the help I can get!  I am an avid cook - my specialty is Indian cooking. And I've dabbled in cheese making also, to some successes. I have had a dream of baking bread for quite some time now, I've probably been reading bread baking books for the last two years - for fun. Finally I said, I need to dive in and Do it!  Well, it has stumped me and I'd say that over the last 6 weeks, since I've begun, I've had ONE success and about 5 failures for one reason or another :-(.

I have been growing a wild yeast (white) starter for the past month and as I write this I have one proofing in the bottom of my La Cloche baker (first time using it) hopefully to go in the oven in 2 hrs. And the other one proofing in a floured brotform in the fridge for tomorrow. I've used the recipe from the Bread Baker's Apprentice for the Basic Sourdough. 

If there are any bread gods out there, say a prayer for me. I am optimistic, but I've been before and baked a brick!




tigressbakes's picture

Well, I baked the first loaf and it is cooling now. It did not get much oven spring at all and smells very sour. Also I think I overbaked it because the crust is too dark and hard, and the temperature was 210 F when it came out of the oven. It is cooling now, so we'll see, but it doesn't look prominsing :( oh well, at least it got some rise and it is my first time trying with my first time sourdough starter. And only the 7th time I've even ever baked bread!

Now for the real bad news: I used Peter Reinhardt's instructions on using La Cloche from Crust and Crumb and when it was time to take it out of the oven I noticed a crack down the whole middle of the bottom. I am very angry. Has this happened to anyone? What did I do wrong?

One more question if anyone can help. I have a heavy duty iron dutch oven pot, can I use that in place of La Cloche? I don't even know if I want to go through the trouble of getting another bottom because it might break again.

RFMonaco's picture

Unfortunately, cloches are known to crack when a cool item hits the pre-heated surface. Was your cloche preheated before putting the dough in?

As long as the cast iron pot is properly seasoned it's fine for bread. A size that is not TOO big will work better. About a 7 to 8 inch bottom diameter will help support the loaf sides so it can rise better.

Don't quit now!

tigressbakes's picture

thanks for the feedback and encouragement RFMonaco!


No it wasn't preheated I thought maybe that was the reason, but your saying that even that could be a problem?  I followed the method from Crust and Crumb where Peter said that his best results were when he proofed the loaf in the bottom. Oh well :(

My cast iron pot is very seasoned and is of the size that you mentioned so I think I will give that a try down the road.

And now for the good news: Just had a thick slice of my very first homemade sourdough bread for breakfast and guess what?? Not bad! It is a little on the heavy side and I definitely over cooked it because the crust is a bit hard but the flavor is nice :-)

Just pulled the other loaf out of the fridge to proof for the next few hours - in a brotform this time. I will try this one directly on the large square baking stone. I have never done the whole steaming thing in the oven so this will be a first for me today...but my baking stone is definately seasoned - I have made a lot of pizzas on it!

Wait, maybe I should start a blog, and get my camera working?!?!

I'm not quitting! I spent last night looking through the blogs with bread envy at some of the loaves you guys bake. YUM!

Also, another thing I am learning is BREAD TAKES TIME!

tigressbakes's picture

Well who needs La Cloche anyway!

I tried the steam method as per Peter Reinhart's BBA for my second loaf of Basic Sourdough. This was the loaf in a Brotform that i retarded overnight.

It is the best loaf I've ever baked! I am so excited! I just baked a real sourdough bread - from a culture that I grew for 1 month!!!'

My faith in myself is restored.

It is delicous - my belly is full.

OK, OK - I am going to start a blog and figure out how to post photos.

Paddyscake's picture

It's a great sense of accomplishment, isn't it? It took me over a year to make a decent loaf. Look forward to seeing your pics.

Squid's picture

Yay, Tigressbakes:

Nothing like a success to hook you.