The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking In Covered Earthenware

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

Baking In Covered Earthenware

I would like to know if anyone has any experience baking bread in round "La Cloche" or Covered "Romertopf" type bakeware?
I became intrigued by the idea of duplicating a brick oven result as mentioned in the King Arthur's Baking Catalog-(They carry the "La Cloche).

Here is a link to a recipe and article explaining the health benefits of going back to the much longer ferments and rises of pre-WW11 baking.

http://www.westonaprice.org/foodfeatures/ourdailybread.html

qahtan's picture
qahtan

Here is a picture of my home made cloche, which I have now changed to La Cloche by King Arthur.
Also is pictured of the loaf I baked in the home made cloche.

I was not impressed with the results from baking bread in covered "Romertopf, as one is limited a bit more for space even in the large Romertopf plus the shape was "unusual" I M H O.... qahtan

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

Thanks for sharing your experiences with covered bakeware. Did you think that the finished product was an improvement over uncovered baking on stone?
Also could you tell me the dimensions of your clay pot?
I like how the drainage hole was cleverly modified to double as a lid handle.

qahtan's picture
qahtan

The crust is fabulous when the bread is baked this way, crispy crunchy, yum.:-)
My home made cloche is about 11 inches across and about 5 inches
deep. I used a baking stone for the base. qahtan

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

That crust is what I am after.
I think I need to "Put A Lid On It".
It will hold in all that beautiful moisture in the slack dough.
Have you been using the recipe you mentioned in your original post on this subject?

qahtan's picture
qahtan

Don't have your dough too slack or it will spead and stick like
the dickens, Yuck.
Just try first with about 1 pound dough see how that fits, and bakes and then go from there.

You will get a good crust from most bread baked under the cloche providing you bake it long enough, as you can see my crust is quite dark.

edit | reply

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

Directions for using a Sassafras "La Cloche" are found on pages 27 and 103 of Crust & Crumb. Peter Reinhart states that using a cloche comes about the closest to a wood-fired brick baking because of the compact space and trapped steam. Also states best success when he proofed the loaf directly on the cloche bottom,(avoids unnecessary handling), spritzed & slid whole unit into a very hot oven.
He also mentions using two pizza/baking stones placed above and below to more accurately duplicate a pro deck oven.

As per finances right now I will pick up a flour pot and pizza stone and give it a whirl.

qahtan's picture
qahtan

I also proof on the stone that I am going to bake the loaf on, buuuuut, if you want a bit of help here, as I said before, don't have your dough too slack and don't put too much dough to start with.
start small, you can increase the amount of dough after you see how that first loaf turns out.
:-))) qahtan

martin's picture
martin

I have used a pyrex type glass bowl with lid to bake bread. I have baked several boule type loaves using this method. The loaves retain softness from the steam created by the water poured into the bowl just before inserting into the oven. I ususally remove the lid for the last 15 minutes or so to brown/crispen the top.

Incidentally here in Asia it is more common to steam bread than toasting. It brings back that just baked taste they love. Either put some slices or part of a loaf on a plate in a steamer and steam till warmed through.

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

I thought of using the pyrex bowl/lid combo but what scared me off was watching the lid break into a thousand little peices on the floor of my oven as I used it to make steam.

I am glad to know what the outcome would be to use a glass bowl and thanks for the tip of taking the lid off at the end - something that could be forgotten in the excitement.

qahtan's picture
qahtan

Don't have your dough too slack or it will spead and stick like
the dickens, Yuck.
Just try first with about 1 pound dough see how that fits, and bakes and then go from there.

You will get a good crust from most bread baked under the cloche providing you bake it long enough, as you can see my crust is quite dark.

KNEADLESS's picture
KNEADLESS

I posted this last week on the rustic bread change, but in light of your question, it might bear repeating here. 

 

I received the large, bell shaped Le Clouch for Xmas, and I decided to use this recipe (Floyd's rustic bread) for a comparitive test. I used the quantities listed above, but mixed all at one time to use the Kneadless method. The only change that I made was to use 1/2 tsp yeast. After mixing, the dough sat at RT for 18 hours. At that time, I roughly divided it into two halves.

 

The first half, I envelope folded, let sit for 30 minutes, and formed it into a ball.

 

The instructions that come with the clouch say to put the ball into the bottom of the clouch, cover with the cold bell, and let rise till doubled. Then put it in a 450 oven for 15 min., then reduce to 400 for another 15 min., remove the cover and bake for another 10 min. or so. I followed these instructions exactly, except after 1 hr. rising, it was only about 1 1/2 original size, but because it was spreading out, I put it in the oven at this point.

 

The results seemed excellent. I got a golden loaf more than 2 times the size of the original ball. Coming out of the oven, it had a thin, crispy crust, but unfortunately, after it cooled, all of the crust became soft, except for the bottom, which had been on the stone bottom. The crumb was very nice, with some medium sized (1/4-3/8") large holes, and the taste was excellent.

 

The second batch had to be refrigerated for 5 hours or so, and after a 1 hour warmup, was prepared like the first one, but it was risen in a linen lined basket. My normal, flat stone and the top of the clouch were put in the 500 oven for 1 hour.

 

Once again, I didn't get a lot of rise in the basket. I removed the hot bell, spread some corn meal on the stone, plopped the ball on it, and covered with the bell. After 20 minutes the temp was reduced to 450, and 10 minutes later I removed the bell. 10 minutes later, the inside was 205 and I pulled it from the oven.

 

The loaf was 3-4 times its original size, had a hard, crispy crust, and many more of the 1/4-3/8" holes. After 10 hours, the crust is still crispy. The taste of the two loaves seem equivalent to my 69 year old palate.

 

Using this bell is much easier than using a pot and lid, IMHO.

 

George

 

After slicing and freezing, I found that the "cold Clouch" bread, made much better toast!

 

 

tony's picture
tony

Today I baked two loaves in a La Cloche. I was going to use my wife's Rommertopf earthenware casserole as well as the cloche, following the procedure for the slack-dough no-knead bread discussed extensively in another thread. The two containers would fit on the oven rack and handle the quantity of dough i had. However, I abandoned the Rommertopf when after preheating for 45 min. at 500F the bottom of the unit was thickly coated in chicken grease (and the kitchen was pretty smoky). Hence it was two loaves one after the other in the cloche.

 

I don't know how the bread is, since one loaf is on it's way to my stepdaughter and the other is still cooling, but the crust looks good. The relevant point here is that preheating the whole cloche and loading the proofed loaf onto the hot bottom, covering with the hot top, and baking 30 min covered at 450F and 25 min uncovered at the same temperature seemed to do the job. That and if too many chickens have been baked in your Rommertopf it may not be a good mini-oven for a loaf of bread.

 

There was plenty of oven spring in both loaves, though the crumb surface exposed by the crust openings appeared to have fairly undeveloped gluten. I'll see how the bread actually is at suppertime tonight.

titus's picture
titus

Tony:

I don't have a Rommertopf, but I am thinking of getting one.

In doing some research about it, I came across a couple of tips for cleaning it:

One suggested "After the pot has been used for about 100 times, it should be cooked in boiling water for about 30 minutes to clean the pores." And also "The pot may be soaked overnight in water mixed with baking soda (use 3 tablespoons of baking soda for every 1 litre of hot water)."
http://www.dlc.fi/~marianna/gourmet/romertpf.htm

You might try this and then try to do the bread again and see what happens. I would be interested in knowing your experience before I commit to buying one myself.

tony's picture
tony

Thanks for the info.  We clean the bottom after cooking a chicken using baking soda sort of as if it was Bon Ami.  However, the boiling and/or soaking sounds like a fine idea.  I'll follow your link.

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I use salt to scour my La Cloche and it works well but I tried the baking soda today and it worked just as well. I've made lots of loaves in the La Cloche and have been very happy with the results. I posted a picture of one of my breads and the La Cloche I used in the gallery of Fresh Loaf. Since the post I got a new La Cloche for Christmas and I'll use it only for bread and save the old one for chicken. No matter how much I scoured I could smell roast chicken. The bread didn't taste like roast chicken but a couple of times I wrapped a loaf hot from the oven in a towel to take as a gift to friends and while driving my husband asked if I was bringing roast chicken. I hope my new La Cloche doesn't stick. I'm going to put parchment under the dough. Any suggestions about seasoning these new pots? (but not with chicken:) weavershouse

Teresa_in_nc's picture
Teresa_in_nc

At some point I baked a loaf of bread in my Romertopf clay pot. It was probably a simple loaf with maybe some wheat germ added to it. It was not naturally leavened with sourdough. It turned out fine, tasty, but a little differently shaped.

I'm pretty sure that I soaked the two pieces 15 minutes in cold water as I always do when using this pot. And I am sure that I put the bread in a cold oven and did not spray water in the oven or on the pot.

Rena, I would think you could bake bread in your chicken cooker just fine.

I have a photo to post, but this format won't let me copy and paste the URL. Can someone tell me how to post a photo on the forum, not the gallery. I can do it just fine on other sites.

Teresa

 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Click the little tree button above the text box and paste the URL into the image location. Submit that and your image should show up.

Teresa_in_nc's picture
Teresa_in_nc

Ohhhhh, got you. Thanks!


 

LaVidaMD's picture
LaVidaMD

Thanks for this photo! I recently purchased that exact Romertopf for my father and I am worried that it looks a bit small for baking bread (specifically, NYT no-knead). I was relieved to see that you baked bread in it successfully.

The patina on your baker is particularly nice. Did it really just happen that way, or did you rub the hieroglyphics with something before baking?

Thanks in advance for your advice!

JERSK's picture
JERSK

  I have a la cloche I picked up cheap at a yard sale. Originally I proofed my loaves on the bottom. The bread came out fine. However, I broke the bottom. Now I proof my loaves in a banneton and slide them onto a Pre-heated pizza stone and top with the heated cloche. It works way better and I find it easier as the loaves proofed on the bottom thing had a tendency to spread to the edge and covering them with the bell was tricky. I have pictures of bread cooked on pizza stone with la cloche in a thread I posted called homemade bannetons. You're supposed to put all clay things into a cold oven as they could crack otherwise.

midwest baker's picture
midwest baker

I love my Romertopf. I got the bigger one from breadtopia.com. It makes fantastic crust. I put it in the cold oven and then preheat. Then I drop the loaf (on parchment) into the hot bottom and cover for the first 15 minutes. The loaves look and taste so professional. I  wish I had two so I could make both loaves at the same time.

Mary

midwestbaker@blogspot.com