I have just purchased a new stoneware covered baker. But, I have never used one before. Any tips on best ways on how to use them to get great crusty breads ?
in all seriousness, you can probably find a million different ways folks prefer to use their dutch ovens and combo cookers. some prefer cold bake, others preheat. how long to keep top on, 10mins? 15 mins? whole bake? parchment, vs no parchment? what temp to bake?
i've baked with a dutch (i only have one) oven a few times, but personally prefer to bake without. i generally bake two loaves at a time, so it's generally more of a hassle for me to lug out and clean.
i will say that it does come in handy for really slack loaves. at times when i have failed to shape correctly and my dough ends up falling flat... i'll transfer the dough into the oven to "contain" it. that probably says more about my process and technique than anything. in any event, my loaves generally come out pretty nice in the dutch oven.
DO you advocate using the covered baker for the final proofing prior to baking ?
I am most concerned about proper use of the sassafras covered baker . Obviously I don't want to accidentally break it by temperature changes. The instructions that came with the baker barely touch on that subject. Any tips would be welcome.
I have one, and did a fair amount of searching on The Fresh Loaf for suggestions. Many suggested to condition it like a cast iron pan - put some oil in it, and wipe most of it off with a paper towel so that have a thin film on the inside surface, then put it in a cold oven and bake at 400 for 1 hour, then once it cools down repeat, then when you go to load your loaf, sprinkle some cornmeal in it to prevent sticking.
As to temperature changes, there are a variety of opinions, room temp baker into cold oven, preheat the top only, preheat both parts then load the dough. I don't see any discussion, but I imagine how you are final proofing the dough may make a difference - I wouldn't want to take dough straight out of the fridge and put it in a preheated sassafras. I am a chicken, so I just use it in a cold oven.