The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Romertopf for baking sourdough breads

flouryhands's picture
flouryhands

Romertopf for baking sourdough breads

Hi

Can anyone give advice on if a Romertopf is good for baking sourdough or no-knead breads please?  If so this may save me from buying a cloche or dutch oven.

I've made regular quick rise bread in a Romertopf in the past with success but start the baking with from a cold oven - not sure if this would work well for sourdough or wet doughs.

I like the grooves you get from sourdough which has been proofed in a banneton and I have an oblong banneton that is compatible with the size of my Romertopf - so I wonder if I can get away with turning out proofed sourdough out in to pre heated Romertopf without the dough collapsing or the Romertopf cracking?  and should I soak and/or line the Romertopf?

So if anyone uses (or has used) a Romertopf for sourdough and can share some advice - or comparisons with results from a bread cloche - that would be great thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

Dsr303's picture
Dsr303

I have a clay cloche for boules and I use my romertopf for bartard. I preheat it in the oven same as the cloche. Beautiful results

susnug's picture
susnug

Thank you @Dsr303. In my next sourdough bread bake, I plan to preheat the Romertopf for dough final proofed at room temperature.

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

Although lots of sources say not too I have risked it on several occasions and no troubles so far.  Proceed at your own risk obviously ;-)

I do soak for a while then preheat with the oven before either flipping directly into the Romertopf or onto parchment and lowering in... Slightly odd shape but works a treat.

flouryhands's picture
flouryhands

Thank you for your replies.  I'll give it a try, starting with my no knead recipe - I'll report back as to how it goes :-) 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

As long as you don't put a cold Romertopf into a preheated oven but do as you described and preheat the Romertopf and oven at the same time then that is what it was designed to do. Your only issue is what's the best way to transfer the dough. Well the best way is - carefully! Safety first. If possible you can tip the dough out directly into the pre-heated Romertopf. If it's going to be tricky, either it's not a great fit or the dough regularly sticks and needs more coaxing out then you can always turn it out onto a piece of baking parchment first then picking it up from the sides transfer it to the Romertopf. Some people also bake the bread from cold but remember it takes time for the oven and Romertopf to heat up so make sure it doesn't overproof in that time so start a little earlier. 

flouryhands's picture
flouryhands

Hi All.  Well baking my no knead bread recipe in the Romertopf was a great success.  I used a dough based on 400g flour (300g white / 100 spelt) 300g water, instant yeast, salt, sugar, and I added walnuts, all left to ferment overnight.   I soaked then preheated the Romertopf at 230degrees, and when ready to bake the dough dropped out of the banneton readily (which was the bit I was most concerned about but the good dusting of spelt flour which seemed to have paid off).   Baked in the closed Romertopf for 30 mins, and lid off for 15 minutes.

Result was a lovely well risen loaf with a crispy crust and nice open texture - the shape it took on from the Romertopf was very pleasing.  Well pleased, and will experiment with a slightly larger loaf next time since there is room in the romertopf.  I have a sourdough starter developing so hope to try sourdough next week  - thanks for everyone's advice.

(ps: I've got some pics but can't figure how to upload them!)

 

 

 

susnug's picture
susnug

I am planning  use my new Romertopf for baking my sourdough which is currently on cold retard  the fridge. I'm a bit worried about placing the cold dough in the hot romertopf. What does anyone think?

flouryhands's picture
flouryhands

Hi

Personally I wouldn't risk putting fridge cold dough in to a hot Romertopf.  I would have thought that the risk of the Romertopf cracking would be quite high.

 

naturaleigh's picture
naturaleigh

I routinely place cold dough into pre-heated clay bakers and have not had any problems.  I do use a piece of parchment paper though.  Hope that helps.

naturaleigh's picture
naturaleigh

I have been using clay bakers, including a Romertopf for years, and think they produce excellent loaves.  However, I think it is always good to use a larger baker than what you need--it helps the dough to have some hot air circulating around it.  If you fill the clay baker with dough, you will lose the benefit that this hot air and steam provide.  Happy Baking.

flouryhands's picture
flouryhands

.... I should mention that the times I've used the romertopf, I've put dough in which has had its final proof at room temperature, and its been fine.

susnug's picture
susnug

Thank you for your advice @flouryhand. I went ahead and tried baking my  cold dough on a cold oven start with the Romertopf after reading from others who had tried it that way. It was a huge failure. Next time I will use a preheated Romertopf after final bench proof. Would you advice cold proof and then room temperature before baking? 

susnug's picture
susnug

Thank you for your advice @flouryhand. I went ahead and tried baking my  cold dough on a cold oven start with the Romertopf after reading from others who had tried it that way. It was a huge failure. Next time I will use a preheated Romertopf after final bench proof. Would you advice cold proof and then room temperature before baking? 

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

Into a screaming hot Romertopf more than once and got away with it, I know from searches on here I'm not the only one. My Romertopf was cheap and I knew what may happen, I'm not saying you should but it's not a certainty it will shatter, just a possibility. 

Colin2's picture
Colin2

Has anyone ever broken a Romertopf or equivalent this way?

I wouldn't pour ice water into hot terracotta, but risen dough has pretty low thermal mass, so I doubt it's going to impose significant thermal stress.  I routinely put cold dough into one heated to 450F.

susnug's picture
susnug

Yes, @Colin2, I have read of someone who shattered her Romertopf by placing a cold dough into a preheated Romertopf. I believe hers was glazed inside.

susnug's picture
susnug

My Romertopf is glazed inside and I've read that it is glass glazing, so I will be more cautious with it. I got mine as a retirement gift so I would like to take care of it.

susnug's picture
susnug

@Elsasquerino You were lucky to have not cracked your Romertopf that way. Mine was a retirement gift from work colleagues, I am not game to take the risk of it cracking. -- 

mski2's picture
mski2

I've been tossing my dough out of the fridge in my Romertopf  for years, no problems so far.

got to be 200 loaves

I wouldn't throw ice in it

Mark

tkaufm's picture
tkaufm

Do you soak the romertopf before baking bread in it? Or do you use it dry? 

sklarlette's picture
sklarlette

Hi There! I just use my Romertpf to bake sourdough for the first time, with fantastic results!  Here are my steps: I used this recipe from King Arthur Flour: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/naturally-leavened-sourdough-bread-recipe

I hand-mixed for autolyse, I transferred the dough to my mix master with a dough hook, for adding salt and then used that bowl for the bulk ferment (rise) phases.  I proofed the loaf overnight in the fridge (I decided not to split it into two loaves as my Romertopf is large.)  Put the loaf in the baker heated to 450 on a sling of parchment   (I did not soak BTW) took the lid off after 1/2 hour, and baked for 20 more minutes. (I accidentally dropped the oven temp to 350 after I took the lid off Ugh!) otherwise, I think my crust would have been darker...But, other than that - the loaf was FANTASTIC.  My crumb was pretty dense, but I think that had something to do with using the mixmaster for a part of the process.

I really prefer this to my using a baking steel and pouring bilonf water into a cast iron pan underneath it for moisture (it also trashes my cast iron pan!)

Have fun!

 

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

 It's really only the lid that needs rinsing or soaking. I have only baked in a preheated Romertopf and always with a dough straight from the fridge with no problems. It doesn't brown as evenly as it does on a stone but maybe my loaves were too large. Makes a good roasted chicken too.

Romertopf

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

I picked up a Schlemmertopf at the Goodwill about 6 months ago and it's my favorite for baking batards. I proof in a banneton, then turn the dough out into the cold, oiled clay baker. I use the baker upside down because I don't like the ridges on the bottom to make ridges on my bread. That means the bread is sitting in the un-glazed half of the baker. The bread doesn't stick if I lightly oil the baker. At first, I needed to oil it every time, but now it's more like every 3rd time. I use extra virgin olive oil. I do not preheat the baker but I do preheat the oven. I don't think preheating the baker and then putting in cold damp dough is safe for me or for the baker. I'd rather let it heat up in the oven with the dough inside. So far, so good....the crust comes out with the nice thin, crisp characteristics of a steamed loaf.    

breadheadqueen_'s picture
breadheadqueen_

Hi everyone, 

I started baking sourdough in April of this year and have been doing it in an enamel Cuistot cast iron dutch oven lined with parchment paper. One thing I disliked about parchment paper is that it always folds in and ruins the shape of the dough. 

The recipe I've had the most success with has been Emma Christensen's interpretation of Tartine No. 3 on Kitchn. I like this recipe because it's beginner-friendly and makes nice small loaves (it's just me and my partner at home). I use 50% unbleached bread and 50% dark rye flour. My loaves have generally turned out well, but I've had to bake them for shorter times because the crust otherwise turns out unmanageably hard. Even with shorter times, and even experimenting with lower temperatures, I've also had issues with the bottom burning. I've rectified this by putting the Cuistot on top of a cast-iron skillet in the oven. Tough crust or not, the flavour is...*chef's kiss.* 

I brought my starter with me to my mother's house. She has a cast iron dutch oven but it's very shallow and not enamelled and she didn't have parchment paper. But she did have...a Römertopf. 

Here's what I did: 

1) Followed the above recipe and allowed the loaves to proof in the fridge overnight for 15 hours. I used floured teatowels in bowls as proofing baskets. 

2) (Next day) pulled the dough out of the fridge to allow it to reach room temperature

3) Soaked the Römertopf in lukewarm water for 15 minutes. (Pot and lid). Dried thoroughly with a tea towel. 

4) Coated the bottom of the Römertopf in butter to prevent sticking (I tried butter and cornmeal first but it burned; the butter alone worked fine.) 

5) Placed the Römertopf in the centre of a cold oven and preheated it to 500 F. 

6) Once ready, I removed the Römertopf from the oven and rested it on folded kitchen towels to prevent it from cracking and removed the lid. 

7) I held the tea towel with the dough in the palm of my hand and placed it at the bottom of the pot. (This is the beauty of the smaller loaves in the above recipe). I scored the top and put it in the oven. 

8) I covered and baked for 20 minutes at 500F, then turned the oven down to 450 F and baked it for 10 minutes. 

9) I removed the lid and baked it for an additional 10 minutes to allow the crust to get crisp. 

The loaves rose beautifully, were easy to remove from the pot, and, the best part, the bottom wasn't burnt! 

I'm officially buying a Römertopf when I get back home. 

I hope this helps anyone else trying out a Römertopf! This is my first post. I love this site. I love bread. I love baking bread!!! 

Sourdough in Römertopf

 

offmyrocker's picture
offmyrocker

I just received my Romertopf today. It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be.

breadhead: Do you think that it will be fine to bake a single loaf made with 3-1/2 Cups of flour in a large Romertopf?When you used your mother’s Romertopf did you make two loaves at the same time, inside a large Romertopf? I am new to sourdough baking, I’ve only baked it 3-4 times. My last was the best, now that my sourdough starter is strong and active. I’ve also stopped making a full recipe, since there are only two of us and one of us doesn’t eat much bread.

breadheadqueen_'s picture
breadheadqueen_

Hi! 

My mother's Romertopf is 4 qts. I baked each loaf separately. I make small loaves, with each containing about 350 grams of flour (roughly 1.4 cups). I definitely had room to spare height-wise after the loaf was finished, but I'm not sure you would have enough room for 3.5 cups of flour if you have a 4 qt pot. If it's larger than that, it might work! Worst case, it sticks to the top and your bread doesn't look super pretty. 

offmyrocker's picture
offmyrocker

Hi, thanks for the reply. I think my Romertopf is 6 or 8 quarts. It’s huge! I think it will be big enough for my 3.5 cup bread. I’m going to try that next week.

offmyrocker's picture
offmyrocker

I just received my Romertopf today. It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be.

breadhead: Do you think that it will be fine to bake a single loaf made with 3-1/2 Cups of flour in a large Romertopf?When you used your mother’s Romertopf did you make two loaves at the same time, inside a large Romertopf? I am new to sourdough baking, I’ve only baked it 3-4 times. My last was the best, now that my sourdough starter is strong and active. I’ve also stopped making a full recipe, since there are only two of us and one of us doesn’t eat much bread.