The Fresh Loaf

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Thinking about making a pottery cover to steam, advice?

Spaz's picture

Thinking about making a pottery cover to steam, advice?

I've just started making bread and I'm having a great time experimenting!

I've tried several methods for getting a crisp crust.  Tried baking in a Dutch oven (DO) and that gave the best crust, but I don't like dropping the loaf in there.  Tried inverting the DO over it, but the handles stick out above the top  and don't give them a steam proof seal.  Tried steaming with a pan of water, and it's okay, but not as crisp and crusty as I got for the  DO.

So, since I also make pottery I was thinking of trying to make a cloche type cover for my pizza stone.  The pizza stone is about 15" diameter, so I was thinking about making a ~14" clay dome to set on top of the stone and the bread.

I am hoping for some advice on how to make it.  What I have in mind is, like I said, about 14" diameter, about 3-tall all, with two handles on either side.  Would it be better to have a dome or a flat top?  Does anyone know if stoneware or earthenware would be better?  Do I need a venting hole?

Does anyone a have a product like this, and if so could you post a picture or link?



dabrownman's picture

has a great way to cloche using a large inverted clay flower pot with a with an eye bolt through the bottom hole held in place with nuts and washers  You can search for it.  But an alternative is to go to Goodwill and buy DO bottom (or one like them) for a buck on dollar Thursdays.  I have picked up several there, well more than several but not as bad as baskets you will find here

You can also over turn a stainless steel mixing bowl over the bread too. 

SCruz's picture

And if you're worried about working with a hot dutch oven, buy some lined welders gloves for $10 at the hardware store.

Wild-Yeast's picture

Handling a 450 dF clay cover is a bit on the unwieldy side and would have to be preheated with the stone.

I've been using a 6 inch deep steam table pan fabricated from stainless steel for past 5 years.  The inside of the pan is spritzed with water before covering the bread on the stone. If your oven has a window panel cover it with a folded towel to prevent inadvertent water spillage from falling on it and cracking it [just finished replacing my third window through a bout of blatant carelessness].


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I would make it taller, give your finished loaf about an inch to 3cm space inside the top.  Use lots of grog for thermal shock, and use a dark colored clay and stop at bisque-ware.  Once you get your design perfected, take it further with stoneware and glazes.  Place sturdy handle(s) or ridged foot so you can lift easily.   No venting hole needed. 

If you do make your own steaming chamber, you might want to also experiment with shapes, both top and bottom and raise the dough to conform to a specific shape.  A shape that is both pleasing and hard to get otherwise.  Patterns can be placed etched or pressed into the baking surface in a number of ways as well.  

You might even want to experiment with clay bannetons or fermenting bowls to impress the dough surface.  (bisque naturally for absorbing qualities)