The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Romertopf Clay Baker

shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Romertopf Clay Baker

Hi

I was wanting to try baking in a cast iron dutch oven, but cannot find one here in Sth Aust under $250 odd, so purchased a Romertopf instead.  However, when I got it home, I noticed the inside lower part is glazed.  Is this suitable for baking sourdough loaves at high temp and do I need to soak, line or otherwise treat it against sticking?  I have noticed on this site some people place it with the bread in a cold oven, and I have also noted some who heat the whole baker in a hot oven and then place loaf inside, which is what I would prefer.  Instructions say the safe baking range is from 180-220deg C.

This is the only supplier of this baker that I could find, so my options are limited in finding an alternative.  I have a Le Chasseur enameled cast iron casserole (similar to Le Creuset) but I believe the black handles on the lid melt at high temps?

Would appreciate any help or suggestions.  Oh to live somewhere where I could access good bakeware and tools!

Sondra

Mr Scrogneugneu's picture
Mr Scrogneugneu

It's normal, I think most modern Römertopf bakers are glazed. At least mine is (the bottom part of it, inside). And it makes wonderful loaves. Don't worry about it too much. I never soaked it or oiled or anything, I just gave it a quick wash after unpacking for hygiene reasons, let it dry and then used it every weekend to bake. Make sure you NEVER pop it into a hot oven or it may crack from the shock. I always put it in a cold oven and let them pre-heat together, oven on full whack for 30min, and it works beautifully - and only then when it's blazing hot I toss my loaf in, covered for 30min then 10min lid off to brown the crust more if needed. My oven thermometer reads 250°C, and no problem so far.

Your bread shouldn't stick too much to it, but a good way to make sure it never does is to dust the bottom of the bread with corn meal or semolina flour, like you would for a pizza. Never ever sticks to the bottom with that!

Zoologuy's picture
Zoologuy

I echo Mr. Scrogneugneu's comment and experience with Römertopf and Cordon Bleu terra cotta baking. I shifted to Lodge cast iron combo cookers for their better handles; handling the smooth terra cotta lids with gloves always felt iffy.

Consider using the preheated La Chasseur pot without the lid and up-side-down as a cloche. This assumes you have a baking/pizza stone or at least a cookie sheet to support your free-form loaves. All of these suggestions will confine the moisture coming out of the dough and slow the setting of the crust to give your loaves maximal oven kick.

Michael

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

Enter "clay pot" into the search box upper left on this page.  Scroll down to the picture  of a caste iron (Lodge?) Dutch oven next to a red clay pot.  That clay pot thingy works quite well, is cheap, and you can make it in a variety of sizes.  Also, way cheaper than a Romertopf, I'm sure.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Romertopf at Goodwill - it was unglazed.I haven't baked with it yet but have it soaking in water outside so i can later this week.

You can take any large pot and turn it over on top as a cloche as others have said.  You can also remove the handle on the top and fill in the hole with aluminum foil  and use your DO.  I found a very cheap heavy duty aluminum DO at Goodwill too with a glass lid and bake in it all the time.

My instructions say to soak the Romertopf for 10 minutes in water and then put it in a cold oven so it doesn't crack .  I'm going to try a bake with loaf in it starting cold and see if that works as well as a i does in a DO.

Happy baking.

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

dabrownman,

I do the final proof in the Romertopf (also from thrift shop!) after spraying with cooking spray and place whole thing into cold oven and then turn up to 425-450 for 30 mins, then 10-15 more to brown the crust. Great oven spring this way. The one in the pic was to be sliced for sandwiches so I didn't bake it too boldly. Never wash with soap, since the clay can absorb it.

wayne

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

what size yours is buit it looks like my 901.  I'm going to put 1,475 g of dough in it pretty soon.  Do you think that is too much for 14 hours in the fridge and then letting it final proof tomorrow? 

 

shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and advice.  I didn't want to chance breaking it as it cost me $90!  Much cheaper than the cast iron DOs I was looking at (more than double that price) though. All this hassle for a loaf of bread .. it gets to you, this bread baking, doesn't it?  I am a home bread baker but am relatively new to sourdough, so am experimenting with different methods, all thanks to this great site, great recipes and helpful fellow loafers!  Have decided to start with the cold oven option and then try the pre-heat option and judge the difference.  I do have a pizza stone and usually bake with steam, so will try using one of my enameled cast iron casserole dish bottoms inverted as a cloche.  Can't buy cloche dishes here either so have to improvise.

Thanks again for the help.

Sondra

 

bobkay1022's picture
bobkay1022

I have some pix of the bake with romertoph. My last was 2 lb loaf. It was very large and hit the cover. I have never oiled the bottom. I used parchment paper. I have done both cold and hot.  Always had a nice crust and crumb.

This is the 2 lb loaf. Done last week.  2  loaves of Ciabatta bread for back up.

 

                   

 

  

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

My dough is 62% larger than your 2 # bake.   I will have to make it smaller by doing something else with the remainder.   A baguette sounds about right since I need to practice slashing as much as I can :-)

Instead of a baguette, by the time I shaped the loaf it seemed to fit perfectly at 1,475 grams and after baking it weighed 1,284 g a 13% weight loss duting baking.  It came out great at least on the outside.  Thanks for the help!

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

to soak only the top for 10 minutes and never to put the Topf into a hot oven.

I do my last proof in the Topf while the top is soaking and then put both into a cold oven which will heat up to 425F, after 15 minutes I remove the top and turn down the temperature to 395F.

Since your Topf is glazed on the bottom, you can make awsome baked chicken with it as well :)

Happy baking,

anna

PS:  There are several cookbooks in circulation for using clay pots, try Ebay, a lot of Goodwill stores sell their books for under $1

 

 

jkandell's picture
jkandell

The bread doesn't stick to the Romertopf if it starts cold?

i tried a cold dutch oven once and had to use baking soda to get the burned crust off!

Ingrid G's picture
Ingrid G

Hi, just use baking paper/parchment paper to invert your dough onto and then lift it into the clay baker (works also well for Dutch ovens). Nothing sticks and the bread comes out easily after baking. You can do that with a cold or hot oven start. Never fails!

offmyrocker's picture
offmyrocker

Just to clarify, do you put your romertopf with the dough in the cold oven, then wait for it to reach 425F before starting your timing for 15. Inutes?

offmyrocker's picture
offmyrocker

supposed to say ‘for 15 minutes’

Ingrid G's picture
Ingrid G

Hello from another Aussie!

Watch out for Aldi's enameled cast iron pots. I use the round one all the time for my bread baking. They are so cheap (under $50) and work so well. The bread doesn't stick, but now I'm using baking paper to transfer my dough into the pot. So much easier!

I'm waiting for the oblong one to come back to use for my batards.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I have the oblong enamel cast iron pot and love it for my batards:)

My round ones I got from Sainsburys here in the UK, also under £ 50 and fantastic.

I use the parchment too and the pots stay clean and no sticking and no worries.

The other day I tried a baking stone but I got a * soggy bottom * and the rise was bad compared to my dutch ovens.

marvalpert99's picture
marvalpert99

Can anyone give me the recipe for NO-RISE Dough Bread Recipe for the Clay Pot-

I know the one in the NY TIMES says to PRE-HEAT the oven and the manufacturer clearly says NOT TO DO THAT

I also think that Bread flour and whole wheat flour will make the perfect combination

can anyone send me the correct no-knead bread flour no pre-heating recipe?

marv  marvalpert@gmail.com

riveryeti's picture
riveryeti

Dear Sondra, Fresh Loaf, and Wayne,

Thanks for the posting about romertopfs! I've had mine for about 20 years, and had never baked a sourdough before (or even baked really, although I like to cook and ferment A LOT) until last week. Just got a supposedly 100-year-old Alaskan sourdough culture that I really like from a friend of mine and was inspired, so after feeding it for a while and reading lots, I settled on a method from Emma Christensen at Kitchn, adapted from Tartine Bread. Since I can never follow a recipe exactly, I decided to just make one giant loaf instead of two, and since I don't have a dutch oven but my sourdough-making friends all rave about them, and I do have a romertopf, I went looking for suggestions, and found Wayne's post with his amazing loaf picture and the explicit tip about proofing in the romertopf and putting in a cold oven on 425-450 for 30 minutes, then lid off for 10-15.

My first loaf of sourdough ever ended up looking like this:

and the crumb seemed nice too!

It was a little bland (un-sour) to me, but my girlfriend and her mom and stepdad thought it was amazing. I thought maybe this was a fluke, so I baked another one last night. I modified the recipe a little more than before, basically skipped the leaven part and used like a half-cup starter (because I was getting to where I had a lot). made the shaggy dough, waited about 4 hrs, pinched in salt with about 1/4c water, waited 1/2 hr, folded four times a half-hr apart each, let it rest overnight in the fridge (in a steel mixing bowl) for about 18h total, then shaped it by lifting up the dough and turning the bowl a bunch with a floured spatula and sprinkling with flour, and sort of rolled-dumped it into the flour-sprinkled-parchment-lined romertopf (which I soaked for about 15 minutes before then blotted dry). This time I tried scoring it with a paring knife.

Basically let it rest for about 10 minutes in the romertopf and threw it in a cold oven, then heated to 450, and once it was heated I set the time for 30 minutes. Took the lid off after 30 min, rotated the romertopf 180 after another 7 min, then took it out 7 minutes after that. Here it is right when I took the lid off. I was afraid it was going to be under-done.

But after the 14 minutes with the lid off, turning once, it looked like this when I set it out to cool. My girlfriend moved the rack up one (gas oven) and I didn't realize until I was turning, so I think the top would have been a little lighter if the rack was down where I put it for the last one.

3 lbs 7 oz! I'll be serving it tonight. Hope it's good! I've got another one that was only in the fridge for about 10 hrs proofing in my romertopf right now that's going in the oven when I hit send (wanted it to be a little fluffier - shaped and dumped as above but seeing if a little rise gets it bigger).

Anyway sorry if this post is too much, or bumping up an old dead thread, but finding Wayne's gem of advice in this old dead thread made my week/month! I feel like a new dad. I was always afraid of baking for some dumb reason (I'm still afraid of pies and non-sourdough breads), but I feel like I can actually make a sourdough I'm proud of now (though probably not without a romertopf)! My world just got bigger, yummier, and more exciting and I can add another fermented thing to my list of projects to keep me in the kitchen.

Thanks again!

Andy

offmyrocker's picture
offmyrocker

Your bread looks awesome! You say you skipped the leaven for the second loaf and added more starter, because the first loaf tasted a little bland, how did the second loaf taste? Was it more sour?

riveryeti's picture
riveryeti

Yes it was more sour. This is my go to method now. Just popped in to refresh myself on what I did. Doing one big and two small loaves now from the same general recipe. My small loaves are in normal bread pans tented sloppily with foil until I take the lid off the romertopf.

GabrielleL's picture
GabrielleL

Thanks for resurrecting it! My neighbor who was moving away gave me her Romertopf baker (12 x 9) I haven't used it yet, and I thought it was a glazed one, but I looked again and it is unglazed, so it must be old. She only used it for meat and veg cooking. I want to bake sourdough bread in it. I appreciate all the advice in this thread and like Wayne I want to proof my bread in the baker (I always refrigerate my dough for at least 24 hrs). My question is do the instructions stay the same whether the baker has a glazed or unglazed bottom? Great thread, thanks again.

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

I used to bake with before we replaced our leaky oven. You should not put it into a hot oven or it may crack. I think they recommend pre soaking it and putting it in the oven while it pre-heats. I would recommend parchment paper to prevent sticking and to use as a sling for loading. Twenty minutes with the lid on and then take it off to finish browning.