clay bakers


What are your favorite recipes to bake in a clay baker?

badge posted by: baker852 on February 06, 2011 at 8:40 pm in Baking, yeast
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reply by: Midnite Baker on February 07, 2011 at 2:12 am
Midnite Baker

I only had my clay baker for a year & have only used it to bake artisan breads. This way I don't have a steam pan to deal with in the oven. I do not soak my baker when baking bread in it.

reply by: pjh on February 07, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Many of our no-knead bread recipes can be baked in a Romertopf or other clay baker. I've also roasted a chicken in my clay baker at home. I like to keep the clay bread bakers and clay meat bakers separate...

reply by: KAF_Keri on February 07, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I just got mine for Christmas, and the first recipe I tried was this one:

I'm pretty much brand new to bread baking and I had the same problem with the recipe as others reported - it didn't rise very much. But it tasted FANTASTIC nonetheless.

I'm actually trying it again as I write - it's on its second rise in the baker right now. I paid more attention to the measurements this time (I have a bad habit of measuring by eye) in hopes that it was just user error. Here's to hoping I get it right!

Keri @ KAF

reply by: beachdee on February 07, 2011 at 3:49 pm

midnite baker, I don't have either a stone or a clay baker and am trying to learn as much as I can to make a decision which to buy first...
Does the clay baker hold the moisture in enuf that it sort of "makes" it's own steam result, and that is why you don't soak it? I could see that soaking might end up with too much steam trapped in with dough and end up with a giant bao bun!

If I have a clay baker do I need a stone? (assuming I'm not going into the pizza business?) All this good input here, it's great!

reply by: sddickes on February 07, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I use my long clay baker constantly. I have owned it for about 1 1/2 years. I follow the directions for use from the Italian Hearth Bread regarding timing and temperature (PS - 2 TBS of sesame seeds in the dough adds a nice touch to the bread). I use the baker for almost all plain (as opposed to sweet) 9" loaf pan recipes. The breads second rise is only to the top of the baker, but they have a good oven rise. The breads are lighter in texture than a 9" loaf pan. To me, that is good because I get to eat twice as many slices for the same number of calories. I have not really used it for free form artisan breads. I use a tip from "Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day" website for the artisan breads. I purchased a cheap, disposable foil pan, 4" deep. I spray it with water and cover the bread for the first 15 minutes of baking, then proceed for uncovered baking to equal the total time recommended. Works like a charm, great oven rise, and it is very safe. I use a pair of BBQ tongs to reach into the oven to remove the foil pan. Susan

reply by: annzie on February 07, 2011 at 7:42 pm

I LOVE my clay baker (Romertopf, unglazed), but, ironically, I've never used it for bread. I use mine for chicken and pork dishes, mainly, but am open to suggestion. I have the original Romertopf cookbook that came with it, plus the 'Consumers Guide' clay cookbook and one other, 'The Clay-Pot Cookbook', by the Sales. I think I got both from Abebooks, and both are recommended.

reply by: Midnite Baker on February 08, 2011 at 3:17 am
Midnite Baker

BeachDee, Hey, I just found out how to add words to my dictionary. Neat o.. Pardon, my excitement, but I'm not one to experiment much.

I'm interpreting that you mean a 'pizza' stone. I have one but do not use it for bread baking. I bought 6x6 inch unglazed tiles at the home improvement center for about $1 each. I use 6 of them in my oven, so there is space on all sides for air movement. Some artisan bread bakers use the rectangle pizza stone.

Now, if you use a clay baker, cast iron pot or something similar then the baking stone is not needed. These vessels are usually preheated in the oven, then the bread is added. With a lidded vessel, sometimes the bread is misted when you put it in, then you slap the lid on to retain the steam. The lid is removed after 15 to 20 minutes of bake time. So, you ask, how do I get the dough into this very hot pot? Some people just plop it in, hoping the dough doesn't deflate too much. Some use parchment paper strips & others use a half or whole sheet of paper. I love my 'Ove Gloves' for this job. All the bakers that I know including me, have one clay baker we use only for bread. With the fact, the clay is porous, we don't want to cross contaminate or have the dough pick up any odors or oils leftover from previous usage.

So, to answer your question "Does the clay baker hold in the moisture"? Yes, it does, so I don't have to use a steam pan when I bake my bread. Yippee!! I really disliked pouring that cup of water into the hot pan. If you try this method of steam, please do this first. Use a heavy terry towel to cover your oven window, before pouring the water into that hot pan. This will catch any spatters, so your window doesn't crack and possibly break.

Anybody have questions, please ask, but remember I'm just a novice.

P.S. I have pets around my house, so everything for food prep gets a quick water wash before use and that includes my clay baker. I make sure the whole thing has had a good rinse before going in the oven, but I do not soak it.

reply by: Midnite Baker on February 08, 2011 at 4:05 am
Midnite Baker

I've made this recipe several times.

or do a search for: Pete's Version Of Italian Bakery Bread

This has got to be an old recipe because it calls for a 1/4 cup Italian Bread Improver. Since, KA no longer carries this, use potato flour, baker's dry milk, and the recipe states whole wheat flour, but if you have pumpernickel use that instead of the WW flour or substitute rye. KA's mixture was potato flour, non-fat dry milk and pumpernickel.

The mixture gives this bread excellent flavor and pizazz!

reply by: KAF_Keri on February 08, 2011 at 5:43 pm

PS: What a shock - measuring ingredients properly did the trick! This loaf was both flavorful and beautiful. Lining the baker with parchment as suggested by someone else also helped tremendously.

reply by: beachdee on February 09, 2011 at 12:40 am

midnite baker, thanks for the info on how you use your clay baker. I think that may be what I try instead of getting an oven stone right now. Does the bread come out just fine, doesn't stick? If some bread sticks to the interior, do you just scrub it out like a regular pot (plastic scrubbee thingy?). I read someone said they used their crockpot insert, but that is glazed inside, so seems that would give a different result...hmmm. Somehow I'll figure out where to store a clay cooker pot in my kitchen.

reply by: anna on February 09, 2011 at 8:13 am

I bake the NY Times No Knead Bread recipe in my bread coffin with Rose's improvements. It's delicious, considering the small amount of work required. (If you bake a lot of bread, you will miss the flavor in a kneaded recipe.) It was bad about sticking when I first got it, but now that it is seasoned, it doesn't stick anymore. I have used parchment and not, and honestly, I can't tell the difference in the crust although it is supposed to be better without.

My only problem is that it is hard to store. It's heavy for one thing and it's oblong size is weird for my 80's kitchen cabinets. I store it on top of the pizza stone in the oven. I just take it out when I need the oven for something else.

reply by: Midnite Baker on February 10, 2011 at 4:21 am
Midnite Baker

Hi Beachdee, I've used a brotform - long oval which, of course, is very well floured. So, when I plop the dough into the clay baker there is just so much flour that I have not had a problem with sticking. For bread stickies, guess I'd soak it for a few minutes then use a scraper to loosen the rest. These clay bakers will discolor naturally with use. If you are concerned about this, then use the parchment paper method. I'm the only one in my HBin5 group that doesn't line the baker & this baker is used, exclusively, for bread.

I have heard of using the crockpot insert for bread baking. No experience, myself, since I don't have one of those. I'm remembering someone who tried this & they used parchment paper(PP)too. The reason is the bread needs to come out for cooling immediately & having PP or PP strips as handles worked quite well. This method can be used for dutch ovens too. Just remember any utensil that can survive a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes can be used for bread baking, even your Pyrex bowls. And any container can be used as a brotform, even your garden straw hat! :-) Yep, someone I know has tried it and it worked!
I've been storing my baker in the oven. No room unless I store it in the basement.

reply by: beachdee on February 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm

thanks midnite baker and anna for your tips and info. I feel for the storage issues -- but am selfishly glad to hear that I'm not the only one! The solution, to store in the oven, is elegantly simple and effective.

reply by: omaria on February 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I have a "potato devil or Kartoffel Teufel" and baked a bread in that once. I had a terrible time to get the bread out and even had to pry it loose . But it just is an unglazed clay pot. 2 halves that are exactly the same size, round. You put potatoes in it on top of the stove and after some time turn the pot over so the other side cooks. Worked great. But we eat very little potatoes so I wanted to use it for bread, but did not really know how. I will try again.