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Sassafras Covered Bread Baker - LaCloche
- This heavy stoneware bread baker brings an ancient Roman and Greek cooking method to the modern...
- Sold individually
- Dimensions: 11"Dia × 6"H
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This heavy stoneware bread baker brings an ancient Roman and Greek cooking method to the modern-day kitchen. Once used as a portable oven for cooking bread, fish, and meats, la cloche (or cooking bell) now helps today's cooks bake lighter, crustier bread, and juicier fish and meats. The unique domed lid allows for even circulation of heat; the unglazed finish of the lid helps pull moisture to create the crackly, golden crust and light crumb similar to breads baked in professional brick-lined ovens. Roasts, chickens, and fish bake as the flavours of the natural juices circulate within the dome, thus preserving moisture and reducing shrinkage. The baker also doubles as a rustic serving plate for finished foods. It fits in a standard size oven with upper racks removed. To use, arrange dough or meat on the bottom dish, cover with the domed lid, and place in the oven on the lowest oven rack.
Dimensions: 11"Dia × 6"H
Suitability: Oven, microwave
Materials: Superstone natural stoneware
Care: Soak in warm water, scrape off food with a wire brush or pad
For best results, season the dish and lid before use with a coating of cooking oil.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Contrary to many reviews, I was delighted and surprised to find that my La Cloche arrived in perfect condition. Packing it in thick cardboard and big plastic bubbles resolved the company's breakage problem.
La Cloche's Pros
* Excellent quality unglazed ceramic baking top and bottom
* Heavy enough to retain heat
* Performs as stated in the advertising
* Creates a hot and humid environment making bread rise higher
* Easy to maintain
La Cloche's Cons
The following are some suggestions to improve your oven's environment using this product:
* Place a thin layer of coarsely ground corn meal on the interior base of the cloche. The will prevent the bread from sticking to the surface
* Use parchment paper instead of the corn meal, if desired
* Soak the top (only) of the cloche in water for 30 minutes prior to placing your bread dough in the oven. (Because the unglazed ceramic top will absorb some of the water, this will give you the benefits of a steam oven without the costs of a new one.)
* Put your dough on the base and place the water-soaked top over it.
* DO NOT PRE-HEAT your oven (Yes, read this correctly!). Turn the cold oven to 450° and set the timer for about 40-45 minutes for a 20-24 oz. loaf.
* After the 40-45 minutes, remove BOTH the top and bottom of the cloche set from the oven.
* Return the bread to the oven, placing it directly on the metal shelf. (Do not use a baking sheet.) The will allow you to bake artisanal breads with a crackling crust. The interior texture (crumb) will be moist and chewy.
I have used this method for: San Francisco Sourdough bread (see my review of San Francisco Sourdough Starter); whole wheat bread; artisanal white bread; cheese bread; herbed bread; and both seeded and unseeded rye breads. I brought a basket of breads to a Superbowl party and they were a big hit--so much so that, two families asked for instructions and will begin baking breads for themselves.
Although it can be used to cook meats, I personally only use it for bread. La Cloche turns your regular oven into a brick oven, and the quality of your bread will amaze you. It browns beautifully, has a crispy, chewy crust that seems to carmelize the sugars in the crust differently. There is no need to spray water or create steam in the oven, because the steam is created inside La Cloche by the bread itself. So actually bread making is more simple and safe because you are not spraying water into a 500 degree oven.
There are 2 shapes, a french bread style and round oven hearth style. I have both and pop them into the oven at the same time, so I am baking 2 loaves of bread at once, which is a little more economical.
Truly, I wish I had this from the beginning of my baking attempts. If you are a baker or love one, go ahead and spring for it. You will never regret this kitchen tool. All my other bread pans are now unused.
I called Sassafras Enterprises (800.537.4941), and for $8.00 to cover shipping/handling they are sending out a replacement bottom. Their customer service was outstanding, and I feel they build a quality product. I also purchased the rectangular version of La Cloche, and I have not had an issue. Perhaps our La Cloche was damaged during shipping. I would have rated it 5 stars otherwise.
I'm going to try once more and then give up. The way these things are packed, it's a miracle any of them arrive unbroken. You can't put two pieces of unglazed pottery touching each other in a cardboard box with no insulating material and not expect at least one of the pieces to break the first time it's shaken a little. How does Sassafras ever make any money on a product they have to keep replacing? I bought the long version of this from a seller on eBay, and it was well packed and arrived in perfect condition. If a private person can ship something so it doesn't break, why can't the people who actually make the item?!
Five stars for the Cloche--zero stars for the idiotic packing.