The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Non-preheatable cloche -- what for?

JDL's picture

Non-preheatable cloche -- what for?

I just received as a gift the "Cloche Bread Baker With Handle" from King Arthur.  The KA reps in the review section are pretty clear that you shouldn't pre-heat this and then add bread to it, as it may crack.  (They also don't recommend soaking.)  I'm not sure what kind of baking it's designed for.

All my usual breads call for baking either in a pre-heated dutch oven, or on a pre-heated stone with steam, and it seems to me that this cloche will give me slow initial heating and resultingly little steam early on.  So I'm not really sure what the purpose of this is.  As a test, I made a simple dough and added the cold cloche with the bread into the hot oven, per recommendation.  The result had poor oven spring and an underwhelming crust, compared to my usual. 

So, my question is, for what kinds of bread does this thing have an advantage?  My go-to breads are mostly levains in Hamelman's book, and similar things from Reinhart.  But I'd be willing to branch out.

The bread that I got out on my first attempt was fine, but it wasn't as good as I'd get by other methods. (With the obvious disclaimer that my sample size is N=1; maybe I should just try again.) I'm looking for some cases where I would actually choose to use this thing.  Since KA sells it, I'm sure there must be some!

BobBoule's picture

but I recently read in this forum that non-preheated cloches (and dutch ovens) do work because even though the initial temperature inside the vessel is too low to create steam, its also too low to form a crust. Since the dough is at room temperature the yeast allegedly will still be multiplying and amplifying their gas output (thus causing the dough to rise) until the temp is high enough to cook them. At this temp the dough is still not hot enough to form a rigid crust and so the existing gasses will continue to expand, and the water is hot enough to form steam, delaying the crust formation.

Its an interesting theory and I'm planning one not pre-heating my next loaf just to see if I can make this work for me. I'm guessing that some adjustment with time and temperature could be needed to deliver our expected results but it will be fin to try and can be useful for hone I can't preheat my dutch oven.

Good luck!

law_and_loaf's picture

I have baked loaves in a cold dutch oven (allowing the dough to proof in the DO) and have noticed no difference between that and when I use a preheated one. Small sample size to be sure, but I've also seen others say the same. 

Still, it seems baffling to me that the cloche would crack if preheated, it certainly begs the question "why?"  I can't explain that one.