The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Vermont Sourdough Experiment

paulm's picture

Vermont Sourdough Experiment

After reading several entries regarding the use of clay bakers and cast iron cookware for baking bread, I dusted off my old Lodge 5 quart dutch oven and assembled a home-made clay baker.

The clay baker is a 12" pot for a lid with a 12" saucer as a base (used upside down for easier loading).  It cost $9.98 for the pot and $6.98 for the saucer and $2.50 for the washers and eyebolt handle for a total of $19.46 at my local Home Depot.

I used Wild Yeast's adaptation of Hammelman's Vermont Sourdough for the formula and made two 670 gram  boules.  I made them side by side with the only difference being one was proofed in a banneton and the other in a cloth lined bowl.  Here is the proofing containers.


Here are the resulting loaves.

And the crumb shots. 

I still am having trouble getting a more open crumb but the taste and texture of both loaves was good.  I couldn't detect any difference between the two loaves regarding oven spring, crust or taste.  I would call the experiment a draw with the added benefit that the dutch oven and the clay baker fit side by side in my oven so I am able to bake two boules in an enclosed environment at the same time.

jcking's picture

Did you preheat the cookware?


mrfrost's picture

Looks like you had what you needed all along, with the "old Lodge". Though the clay baker looks for easier loading(but probably more difficult to handle, overall).

Final results look nearly indistinguishable. Looks like the Lodge allowed for a little(just a little) less spread and a smidgen more height.

 Assuming the Lodge got the smooth loaf and the clay baker got the coiled loaf.

Reads like you had not tried with the Lodge prior?

paulm's picture

jcking - yes, I preheated both the loge and clay baker.

mrfrost - yes, the clay baker was easier to load-just lifted the lid and slid the loaf from a peel to the base.  The Lodge got the smooth loaf and no, I had not tried the Lodge for baking previously.  It was used mainly for camping and the closest it got to baking was biscuits.