Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Cloche or Not to Cloche - That is the question!

A while ago a reader asked me a question about why the tops of her gluten-free sourdough breads had lots of cracking during baking. I really didn't have an answer as my breads also became cracked during baking. I thought it was just part of the package of making my rather unusual bread.

Another reader wrote to me saying she got nice smooth bread tops by using a "Pullman Pan" which is a metal pan with a slide-on lid. I ordered one of these interesting pans and had trouble just sliding the lid on and off. I returned it knowing I would avoid any pan I needed to struggle with to make work.

Then I started experimenting with rice-coconut breads in the hopes of achieving an angel food cake. When they ended up cracked on top I tried another batch and covered it while baking. I used an inverted cake pan. It worked extremely well!

Then I went back to some of my older loaf bread recipes that regularly cracked and baked them with an inverted loaf pan on top. That also worked really well to smooth those tops!

This is not a new idea. Historically, some bakers have used covered clay pots for baking breads. I've read of people making cloches out of tin foil, clay pots, roasting pans and anything else that will safely cover a pan to keep the steam in and the drying air out.

There are loaf breads in the loaf pans and rice-coconut biscuits in the round pan.


Here is a photo of a bread with a very cracked top.
Below that is a photo of my Sourdough Bread #1, that was cloched with an inverted pyrex pan during baking.


  1. Interesting. My #3 loaf looks cracked and dry like that. I don't mind, but it was also very crumbly for cutting. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Hi Irene,
    I'm surprised your #3 was crumbly. Let me think about that. It shouldn't be.


  3. This is great to know. I would have thought the lid had to press down on the loaf to make it smooth, but evidently not. It will definitely make the loaf easier to slice! Thanks, Sharon.

  4. So we can use a traditional La Cloche clay baker? If so would the long 15 x 6 x 3 inches be okay?

  5. Hi Charisse,
    I feel very sure that your very beautiful sounding clay baker will work. I have not used clay before but others baking my breads have had good results with a standard size clay loaf pan, 9x5x3. I see yours is 3 inches high and 15 inches longand a bit wider.

    My recipes are written for a standard loaf pan. You might have to make a batch and a half or even two batches to fit that pan and get the right rise and volume. Aside from that I believe it would do an excellent job.

    I hope to try a clay baker someday. It's on my very long backburner to-do list