I have been making sourdough bread for some time, and lurking and using this forum extensively. Thank you all for your recipe ideas and tips.
My sourdough was enjoying sporadic success only. Lately however, it has become much more consistent- due to my romertopf. I thought it might be worth telling you about, because I previously hadn't had much joy finding good information about baking bread in a romertopf during my internet searching.
I had tried a couple of approaches - soaking then heating the pot, heating up the bottom, but proving the dough in the top, lined with baking paper - then just transferring the whole lot to the heated bottom and baking (this saved burnt fingers, but resulted in a pale crust). Now, however, I keep it much simpler and it seems to work brilliantly.
I tested it out with just the basic pane francese recipe from this site, doing everything according to the recipe, so won't repeat any of that. If I get the photos uploaded, you will see that I did decide to prove it in two parts but cook them together to make it easier to separate out a half loave and give it to friends.
When it came time to heat up the oven, I heated it to 245 degrees Celsius, with the romertopf in right from the start (ie in the unheated oven). I did not presoak the pot.
Transferring the bread to the (very hot) romertopf was a little challenging. I put the romertopf bottom on a board, transferred the first piece of dough carefully in. The second piece did, I confess, get dropped a bit - but that didn't seem to matter. (Burnt fingers the first time I did it though). It may be easier if there is just one piece of dough to transfer. Slashed the dough, put the lid on, and popped it in the oven. No need for ice or water to create steam - the dough itself is wet enough to create steam within the romertopf.
The first attempt, I removed the lid after 25 minutes and reduced the temperature to 220 degrees, the second picture shows a much browner loaf, because I removed the lid ater 15 minutes, and cooked it a bit longer. I'm sold really - each time I have have consistently good bread.
I've had great success with my Romertopf for baking too. I went through the pre-heating stage, however now I do the final proof in the Romertopf and transfer to a hot oven - no burnt fingers or fumbling. The clay pot appears to work very well as a mini-bread oven without pre-heating.
Another way I've used my Romertopf for baking sourdough bread successfully was to let the dough rise overnight in the same "prepared" clay pot that I would bake it in.
After mixing the dough, I would put it in the Romertopf pot to rise overnight. (By "prepared" means that I would coat the pot with a little butter and cornmeal to prevent sticking.) In the morning, I soak the lid and clay pot in water for 15 minutes. ( The bread stays dry in the clay pot while it floats in the water.) I then pat out excess water from the lid, place the pot in the cold oven with the lid on. Put oven temperature to 410 F for 40 minutes. Take lid off and bake for another 10 minutes to brown the top. It comes out quite beautifully.
Your bread look awesome. Thank your sharing and bring up about Romertopf.
I always wanted Romertopf for my bread baking and finaly my hubby ordered me one but unforturnately it too tall for my counter top oven, very sad really. Now I bought an oval shaped Cast Iron pot for baking my bread. Before use a ceramic pot which is work quite well.
Baked two loaves of sourdough using natural starter with a touch of instant yeast to speed up the rise. One (longer loaf) baked in Romantopf (unglazed), the round on baking stone covered with clay dome. First rise in covered lightly oiled bowl till doubled. Second rise in bannetons till puffy. Both the Romantopf and dome were preheated in 450°f oven. Baked both covered for 30 minutes, then tops off for another 12. No sticking to Romantopf.
Hi Miranda! Thanks for this info! Do you find you need parchment paper or is flour coated on the dough enough to stop it sticking to the romertopf?
I only use a dusting of flour, no parchment, with my romertopf.
Sorry for the delay in responding - I haven't been on the forum for a while. I don't do anything with my Romertopf. I prove the bread in bannetons that have been dusted in flour, but that's all. No parchment paper - my bread never sticks.
I've been baking sourdough for a few months now and wanted to try an alternative to a pizza stone and pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf. I was a bit nervous about the Romertopf breaking or the bread not baking but it turned out great. The crust is not as hard as usual and the loaf itself is quite soft and spongy and overall delicious.
I used my usual recipe of 450g flour, 310 water and 100g active starter (stretch and fold x 5 times over 6 hours and overnight prove in fridge), scored and baked on parchment for 15 min lid on at 250c then 25 min lid off at 240c. Took the loaf out of the pot and placed on oven shelf for 5 min after I turned the oven off.
The loaf was bigger than in the photo but husband ate half of it before I had a chance to photograph