The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

oblong cloche help

ginamarquez45's picture
ginamarquez45

oblong cloche help

I've searched but not found just the same question.

Looking for recommendations (or negative info too) about any oblong cloches out there.  I was really hoping to find a brand I already knew, but haven't.  I always use just a round glazed pot with a lid for my regular loaves.  In order not to have gigantic slices of bread (especially for toast), the loaves are fairly small...maybe they last 2 days.  That's okay, but with my schedule it would be nice to have at least one more day ;-).  A longer loaf would hopefully give a few more reasonably sized slices.  

I've only seen unglazed clay so far. I think that might behave differently from what I'm doing.  Currently I heat up my pot and lid (both glazed) as I'm pre-heating the oven, turn down heat after about 15, take off lid after another 15 or so, & finish in about another 15.  I don't even know how the oblong would affect this, as well as the lack of glaze.  I was using a dutch oven, but found occasional scorch.

If you have other advice for a reliable oblong loaf that gives me the crispy crust I have now, largish holes, etc. I'm all ears, seriously. And though I've baked my family's bread for years out of necessity due to where we live, I'm definitely an amateur.

Thanks

David R's picture
David R

Scorching occasionally with the Dutch oven: What about preheating it less? Or baking parchment under the loaf? Maybe you already have what you want!

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Good luck in your efforts.  I have the Sassafras oblong cloche and have used it only a few times.  Diff manufacturers have different suggestions on how to use the unglazed cloche's.    Sassasfras says to avoid thermal shock - which they refer to putting a frozen pizza on a hot stone  https://sassafrasstore.com/faq/#superstone     Breadtopia  says it is fine to preheat their cloche before putting the loaf in , and suggests that makes it less likely to stick https://breadtopia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/OblongClocheCareFullPage.pdf    and I read a number of posts here and some users reported cracking of the cloche - and it was not clear whether it could be preheated first  or whether that increased the risk of cracking.  

David R's picture
David R

There's more than one possible reason for cracking. If you got a defective piece then it doesn't really matter what you do, it will crack anyway. If you start with a well-made cloche, the way to crack it is to heat it very hot AND then slap a big piece of very cold very wet dough onto it, or put ice or cold water onto it. I'm sure you know that many substances expand when heated and shrink when cooled. The extreme difference in temperatures that I described causes the clay to quickly shrink at the place where something cold has touched it - but the other part of the clay is still hot. The clay is, you might say, "trying to be two different sizes at the same time", so it cracks.

Some materials can stand more of this "thermal shock" than others. If you quickly pour boiling water into an ordinary drinking glass, it will crack almost every time. But if you use lab-grade glass (which is actually made of different stuff), then you can dump in boiling water anytime and it will be fine.

Some clay items are better than others too - it depends on the type of clay and on the firing process.

SheGar's picture
SheGar

I got this one:

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00004S1DW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It's great! However, if I had waited longer... I learned how to free form batards and could have saved the money. They are pricey but yes, this one works extremely well.

Edit: And yes, I heat it with my oven and then transfer cold dough on parchment paper and then into hot clay baker. Works well though

foodforthought's picture
foodforthought

I totally agree with your intent. Boules are pretty but impractical in a few important ways...like when yu want to make several sandwiches approximately the same size. I've been having some decent results using the bottom half of an old (as in grandma's Thanksgiving turkey pan) oval enameled steel roaster. It doesn't have the mass and thermal retention of enameled cast iron or ceramics, but it does trap steam and yields a nice crust. In addition to being light, it has handles offset from the rim on both ends so it's pretty easy to remove quickly whenever desired. I just preheat it along with the stone, remove briefly, then place the dough directly on the stone and cover with the roaster. Had seen some people using disposable aluminum roasters in same way and decided to try. You might be able to find one cheap at a Goodwill or thrift store.

SheGar's picture
SheGar

work great! I don't even pre-heat mine. I have the long clay baker (which I pre-heat) and a small DO and a small enamel roaster (old) and I can fit all three in my oven at once. I can't see a difference between the DO and enamel roaster in baking/developing crust. I wouldn't pay big bucks on DO for baking.

David R's picture
David R

Enamel roasters are usually thin steel, which it's true needs very little preheating (or none) because it heats up quickly anyway. The disadvantage (if it turns out to be a disadvantage, for you) is that they cool down just as quickly as they heat up; you can't count on thin steel to stay hot under a slab of cold dough and help cook the bottom of your bread the way that a stone, a heavy Dutch oven, or a thick piece of iron would do.

It comes down to the bread you make and the way you bake it. Many different methods (and types of containers, and types of ovens) can be made to work, if each of them is used correctly. Is the bread good? Yes? "No further questions, Your Honor". 🙂

OldLoaf's picture
OldLoaf

I use the Sassafras superstone  oblong baker also.  I have had it for about 4 month's.  I always preheat it in the oven at whatever temp I'm baking at (typically 450F, preheat for 45minutes to 1 hour).  I proof my loaves in an oblong banneton, then transfer them to the pre-heated baker using parchment paper and a pizza peel.  I bake the loaf with the parchment paper inside the baker.  No issues with cracking (so far).

The directions that came with the baker say to season the bottom of the baker with oil (similar to seasoning a cast iron pan). Then, in a room temp baker,  use cornmeal in the bottom of the baker.  Proof the loaf right in the baker, then put it in the pre-heated oven.

The warning they give about thermal shock says not to add any frozen foods to it and not to expose it to extremes in temperatures.  My thought on that would be if you proofed your dough in the baker, in the fridge overnight, then tossed it in a 450F oven.

Jeff

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I have had a Sassafras oblong baker for years. Like others report, mine has baked perfectly and remains trouble free. I load cold dough into the preheated vessel as standard practice.

If my dough is very slack and tends to spread, the wall of the clay baker will serve to support the sides of the loaf and cause it to rise up instead of out.

Danny

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Danny,  by cold,  do you mean from the fridge ,   or room temp.  My concern is that my fridge is around 38 degrees, and i worry that would cause it to break.  Just being chicken I suppose. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Straight from a 38F refrigerator. Best bet, if in doubt is to call Eric or Galen at Breadtopia. They have sold loads of these over the years. If you do call, let us know what they say.

Colin2's picture
Colin2

I can vouch for https://breadtopia.com/store/breadtopia-clay-baker/  and they make a skinnier oblongier version.  Glazed.

I heat it in the oven and tip the proofed loaf in.