The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Tip on baking in a cloche or Dutch oven from KAF

dmsnyder's picture

Tip on baking in a cloche or Dutch oven from KAF

I just saw this on the KAF web site (

While the New York Times recipe calls for the crock to be heated before adding the bread dough, we actually let the dough rise right in the crock, then put it into a preheated oven. It works fine, and saves us the worry of heating an empty baking dish in a very hot oven.

Has anyone tries proofing loaves in the pot in which they will be baked? If so, how did it work for you?


AnnaInMD's picture

I put the dough on parchment right into the pot (cast iron or Römertopf) and let it proof before baking. The cast iron one  I put into a preheated oven and the Römertopf into a cold oven covered with its 10-min presoaked top.



dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Anna.

Thanks for your response.

I wonder if you really need the parchment in the Cast Iron oven. Wouldn't the loaf release as it bakes?


AnnaInMD's picture

is only because I also use the pot for slow-cooking Gulasch, etc and do (gasp) clean out the pot with a bit of soap :)  I just want to make sure it doesn't stick, I could just spritz some oil first and forego the parchment, you are right.


ehanner's picture


There are some comments further down that speak to your question.

We suggest lightly greasing the sides as well as the bottom of the crock. Frank @ KAF.


MichaelH's picture


carluke's picture


You were asking specifically about baking in a cold cloche or dutch oven, but just to give another perspective, I bake almost all of my breads in a clay baker (romertopf) or La Cloche.

I soak the clay baker (top and bottom) for 30+ minutes, and then put it (both pieces, closed) into a cold oven to preheat for 30+ minutes. I proof most of my loaves in a banneton, so when they are ready, I take the clay baker out of the oven onto a 'cooling'rack on the counter. I take the top off, place it upside down on the rack, flip the banneton over to get the loaf into the baker, slash the loaf, put the lid back on and back into the oven.

I have no problems with sticking as I never wash the baker and the loaf always releases easily.

I also don't have to go through the various steaming steps (I have a gas oven, so steaming is a little more problematic anyway).

I know there are lots of differing opinions on soaking/not soaking, preheating/not preheating, parchment/no parchment, etc., but the process i have described works very well for me for a variety of different breads. 


dmsnyder's picture

Thanks to all who responded.

For those with experience proofing in your baking cloth/Dutch oven and not pre-heating them: How do you compensate for the time it takes to heat up the container? For example, if the procedure for baking in a pre-heated container is 20 minutes covered, then 15 minutes uncovered, would you change timing if baking by putting a room temperature container in the oven?


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

from the proofing time, getting the loaf into the oven sooner.  I don't like throwing cold dough into hot pans.  It is all too hectic for me.  If the cold pot is covered, I give it blowing upper and lower heat and the oven heats up hotter and faster than on normal pre-heat.


dmsnyder's picture

Makes good sense.


hilo_kawika's picture

This thread is remarkably fortuitous.  A week or so ago in another "senior moment" I forgot to put in the Dutch oven to pre-heat.  So when the oven had reached its proper temperature, I just heated the Dutch oven for five minutes and put the dough in.  No problem!

This week I just put the dough in a cold Dutch oven, added 5 minutes to the initial baking time and proceeded with the rest of the normal baking times.  Again, the bread was excellent with great spring and even better crumb structure.

I'm sticking to using parchment paper since the last quarter of my baking process involves removing the bread from the Dutch oven to brown more evenly and the parchment paper "cradle" is very helpful to that process.

Next week I'll try the proofing in the Dutch oven itself, but at this point I see no reason why it shouldn't be great.


Dave Hurd, Hilo, Hawaii

Janknitz's picture

I use Rose Levy Beranbaum's method with my clay baker:

1. I preheat the lid in the oven.
2. I proof the dough at room temperature in the base (with a round of parchment on the bottom for easy removal).
3. I bake as usual and remove the lid halfway through.

Excellent results with NO soaking, no slinging dough into a screaming hot vessel, and no extra time.

Syd's picture

David, when I started making bread more than twenty years ago I learned about baking sourdough in a cast iron pot from The Bread Book by Linda Collister and Anthony Blake.  I picked up the cast iron pot tip from the recipe entitled "Gerry's Rye Sourdough Bread".  (Gerry says he learned about it from the British cookery writer Elizbeth David).  This was long before it was made popular by Jim Lahey  in his no knead recipe. 

I would  grease the pot with butter and let the dough do its final proof in the pot.  It would go straight into the oven just like that: cold pot, cold dough and the bread always came out beautifully.  It rose so evenly: a fact I attribute to conductive properties of cast iron. The bread always got really good oven spring.  Perhaps this was because pot initially insulates the dough from the fierce heat of the oven and allows it to rise for longer than it ordinarily would before the temperature gets too high and kills off the yeast.

After a while the inside of that cast iron pot developed a shiny black patina which acted like a teflon non-stick coating.  I can't remember a loaf ever getting stuck in the pot. 

My recipe called for about 950g (two pounds) of dough and I would bake at 220 C (425 F) for 20 mins and then for a further 35 mins at 190 C(375 F).  It was always cooked perfectly.  I just used to give it a sharp rap on the bottom with my knuckles when it came out.  If it sounded hollow, it was done.  This was before the time of instant digital thermometers and even if I had one then, I certainly wouldn't have known that it should have been cooked to an internal temp of 205 F.


The only downfall of the process is that your loaf takes on the shape of your pot.  Not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to getting regular slices of even proportions, but if you are into the aesthetics of the pure, unadulterated, round boule, then the shape thing might be disconcerting for you.  You could get around this of course by using a pot with a larger diameter than your loaf, proof it in a banneton and when it is ready to bake, gently place it into the unwarmed pot. Of course this would ruin the convenience of doing your proving and baking in the same vessel but then, I guess, some sacrifices have to be made. 



AnnaInMD's picture

and inserted it into the cast iron pot.



davesmall's picture

My 'easy every day' method for making a boule is to use 500 grams of GM Harvest King flour, 1.5 TBLS kosher salt, 1 TBLS instant yeast, and 375 gr of water. I mix the ingredients, do not knead, let rise for two hours, and then refrigerate the dough anywhere from 1 to 14 days in a covered plastic food grade container.

When ready to bake, I remove the dough from the refrigerator and fold it four or five times (letter fold). Let it sit for an hour or two and then fold it again a few more times. Shape into a ball, and place inside my La Cloche. I wet the inside of the lid before placing on top to create a humid environment while proofing. 

After an hour or two I'm ready to bake.  I've been experimenting with hot slashing. This means opening the La Cloche after about 15 minutes and slashing the dough after the loaf has just started to expand. I'm getting better results with this method than previously when trying to slash wet dough.

For my La Cloche baking I use a combination microwave/convection oven in the convection mode. The La Cloche sits on a circular wire rack so the hot air can circulate both above and below. I set the temperature to 450 F and put the La Cloche into a cold oven with the timer set at 60 minutes.

After about 40 minutes I remove the bread from the La Cloche and let it finish baking on the wire rack. This makes for good browning and a crisp crust. There will usually be a little time left on the timer when I remove the finished loaf from the oven. 

stefano_arturi's picture

I proof my bread in a paper-lined banetton and then transfer the lot to a cold Le Creuset. then I place the pan in a cold oven. I now bake most of my bread in a cold oven. they are fine

I first read about baking in a coverd pot in English Bread and Yeast Cookery by the great Elizabet David many yrs ago (the book is from the early 1970s)

the only point to chek (as Mrs david says): the bread must be baked before it has reached maximum expansion.

stefano. Milano, Italy

subfuscpersona's picture

Do you want to use this for baking bread? If yes, here is my personal opinion in 4 words...


KA is selling a 4.2 quart capacity stoneware crock for $165 (USD). Their advertisement recommends it for bread baking.

Recipes for baking bread in a covered crock or dutch oven call for initial oven temperatures from 450F to 500F degrees. Your crock must be able to withstand these temperatures even if it is empty.

One TFL member had her Emile Henry crock break when she was baking a chicken...

ddarthorn on Nov 20, 2010 wrote wrote:
Last week I roast a chicken on parchment paper in my gorgeous beloved Emile Henri casserole. It was not covered and there was no liquid added. The chicken and pot went cold into the pre-heated oven. I was heart-broken to find my casserole cracked through at the end of the roasting. It was an outcome I could never have anticipated, having used it many time under many conditions, although probably I never used it at such a high heat to start (450F.).

A temperature of 450F is not a high heat for bread baking. A dutch oven, la cloche or crock must be able to repeatedly withstand initial heating temperatures up to 500F, even if empty. There are many, less expensive, alternatives that meet this criteria.


The post by ddarthon was part of a discussion on how to bake bread in a cold (not preheated) dutch oven. I started this discussion and this is the bread I was able to produce.

I used widely available equipment that costs considerably less than the Emile Henry stoneware crock sold by KA.

The link to this discussion is Baking Bread in Cast Iron Dutch Ovens - No Preheat Method

dmsnyder's picture

I've seen this for as little as $124, but it's still way too expensive compared to the alternatives. I agree.