The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Clay pot

Papist's picture

Clay pot

I want to buy a clay pot for baking some bread.  Does it need to be the same size as my proofing basket?  Or can it be much larger?  Is Romertopf still made in Germany? 

richkaimd's picture

You can construct your own clay pot cheaply by buying a wide diameter unglazed (usually orange) flower pot base and a similarly unglazed flower pot which just fits upside down inside the base.  The flower pot itself will have a hole in its base for drainage.  When you're baking, this whole, unless sealed, will leak the steam which you need inside to help with crust formation.  You must seal this hole for baking purposes.   Ask someone at a hardware store to suggest how to do this.  It'll probably involve a fat threaded eye hook with metal washers and nuts to hold the piece inside and out.  This whole thing is going to be much cheaper than anything you're likely to find in a kitchen store and work just as well. 

Of course, you can get the same results from a large Dutch oven.  If you've not done this before, on Youtube, search for the video of Mark Bittman and John Lahey making no-knead bread to learn about the issues of timing for this kind of baking.

Papist's picture

I'm not that crafty and I'm a bit lazy.  I'd rather buy one.  But I'm picky about things coming from America or Europe.  I don't want any Made in China stuff.  Thanks for the suggestion though

shastaflour's picture

You'd be surprised at how many clay bakers show up in thrift stores. I just found a good-sized Schlemmertopf last week for $10, uncracked with a lovely glaze on the inside of the bottom half. To my knowledge, both Romertopf and Schlemmertopf are still made in Germany; certainly the ones you'd find second-hand would be. 

Papist's picture

I thought I was supposed to get one without the glaze?  What about the size?  Does it matter if it is way larger than my proofing basket? 

I was going to buy a clay pot from breadtopia and they have "Made in Europe" on some of the other produces, not on Romertopf.  Perhaps they now outsource?'s picture

Unless it's too small. You don't want a less than optimally strengthened dough to ooze out and touch/burn on/stick to a close-fitting cloche. So the bigger the better. Hard to imagine a cloche being too big. Unless you were baking a single dinner roll in a full size cloche or Rommertof.  Purpose is to trap dough's escaping moisture. 


jackie9999's picture

There are a few good ideas on the forum for covers - in this thread I posted a picture of my flower pot with the stainless steel washers, eye bolt and nuts.

AnnaInMD's picture


The size dough I use is anywhere from 450 grams of flour to 800 grams of flour, I also purchased an oblong banneton which I really do not use any longer since I do the last proofing in the unglazed Römertopf itself which I lined with parchment paper since the bread likes to stick to a newer pot unless, I guess, you oil the heck out of it, parchment is easier and seems cleaner.


Papist's picture

I once lined my basket with wax(or parchment, can't remember) and it stuck so badly I had to throw the dough away.  Did I do something wrong?  Should I spray the paper first?  Can I spray the basket and just use that?

AnnaInMD's picture

baking cycle.  I sprinkled all purpose and rice flour to "line" the banneton or proofing basket so that the dough wouldn't stick when removing it to the baker.  Yes, I would imagine that unbaked dough would stick to the paper but it doesn't once it has finished baking, the paper might stick in a few little places but is easily peeled off.


paulm's picture

I went the clay flower pot and base route.  I used a 12" pot and base I got at Home Depot along with an I-Bolt and two nuts and washers for $12.00.  I have made boules from 750 g to 2 kg with no problem.  Here is a picture of it along with another covered cooker option of a Lodge 5 quart Dutch Oven.


dabrownman's picture

for bread proofing baskets, DO's, clay and cloches for baking bread.  It is an addiction or possibly and illness.  I have used all of these for making bread now but have retired the right side up, well over 100 year old mixing bowl that great granny used and is now cracked.  Have also retired the 3 cast iron enamel coated expensive DO's too.

The rest of the dutch ovens, cloches, and not pictured 2 stainless steel large and deep mixing bowls used for cloches, were purchased at Goodwill or in one case an estate sale for $1 to $3 with the exception of the large oval Magnalite Chicken Roaster that was my mother-in-laws.  The Magnalite is my favorite because it came with a removable, raised, vented bottom so you can throw some water in the bottom by , running it down the side after the bread goes in to get super extra steam.  Nothing else bakes crust like it - at least none of the ones I've tried.  It is also big enough to take very large oval shaped breads without burning yourself on the preheated 500 F metal.  I usually soak the ceramic ones in water for 24 hours to makes sure they don't break and usually put them with cold bread in a cold oven start.  I just add the time it takes to warm up to temperature to the steaming time as a general rule.  Get great spring that way.  Would love to have the Alton Brown Ceramic flower pot set up too.  We love DO's because they can be used for cloches too.

All of them and their methods make fine steaming enclosures for bread and it is nice to know it doesn't have to cost a fortune.  Most young bakers learning today, as always, aren't rich and need cheaper options.  I buy my baskets at Goodwill too for 50 cents to a dollar each.  Got another brand new, never used, bread machine (a Breadman) at Goodwill last week for a buck too.  Thriftiness is a virtue and necessity is the mother of invention - thankfully they usually go hand in hand!

It is a sickness - no?

barryvabeach's picture

The Magnalite idea has me intrigued. I saw a picture of the vented bottom, basically an oval shaped piece of metal with holes in it, and feet to keep it off the bottom.  What is unclear, is do you put the loaf on the oval piece of metal while it is cold, before you put it in the oven, and second, how does the bottom of the crust come out.  Lately I have been using a handheld steamer to inject steam under an inverted roaster pan, but your concept seems easier,  Also, do you use boiling water?