The Fresh Loaf

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Problems baking in clay romertopf

TheBrickLayer's picture

Problems baking in clay romertopf

Hi folks, 

I received some help here a while ago re my struggles with getting a loaf to rise in a loaf pan. I mostly solved that problem by upping the hydration on my dough. 

I recently switched to baking the dough uncovered in its bread pan but inside of a clay romertopf. I've actually been getting a better rise on it in a lot of cases, but it seems to come out sort of gummy—not inedibly so but certainly not acceptable. Any ideas? 

Recipe is as follows: 

294g APF, 294 whole grain flour (usually stone-ground), 540g water, 80g starter. 

Autolyse one hour in oven on bread-proofing setting (just to warm the dough up a bit). Add starter. Add 2tsp salt. 

Bulk ferment at room temperature about 5hr. Stretch and fold at 30m, 45m, 1hr, 2.5hr. 

Shape in bread pan. Rise in fridge about 8hr. Preheat oven to 500 with romertopf; add uncovered pan to romertopf. Bake for half an hour covered at 400; remove top of romertopf and bake for a further 20 mins. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in the metal pan, on a low positioned rack (top rim level with oven center) without any convection, rōmertopf or covering yet?  With such a high hydration dough, the problem might be too much trapped steam.  Establish a base line first, then go from there one change at a time.

I had similar problems when trying to up my hydration on rye loaves. It was the rye flour I was using.  I added a local ingredient that could soak up a lot of water and give it back into the crumb during the bake. This shifting of the hydration inside the dough gives a manageable dough (behaves like a lower hydration dough) that makes its own steam during the bake so trapping and adding steam is not needed.  Try a little flour substitution with a bit of rolled oats in the dough or chia or presoaking the whole wheat or a tangzhong or pre-gelled (cooked) flour or starchy ingredient.  Cooked potato, porridge, and roux falls into this category.