Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cloche-baked Herbed Rye bread

If you were a fly on my kitchen ceiling you would have seen me very early yesterday morning, hair pinned, sleeves rolled, apron tied (nah..just kidding; still in my pyjamas) slushing a wooden spoon in a bucket of sponge. Another one of Beth's recipes from Bread for all seasons. This one she tells us, is her take on Rose Levy Beranbaum's favourite rye bread baked in a cloche. Enough name dropping, on to the bread.
The sponge -rye and bread flour- had to rest for 4 hrs or overnight. I opted for 4 hours and that was plenty of time, with one hour to go it already popped the lid on my bowl (rye makes for powerful starters).

The dough consisted again of a combination of rye and bread flour, and as I plan to freeze this bread and use it for a family bbq next weekend I added fresh oregano, fresh basil and some mixed dried italian herbs. Again baked in the
romertopf which is very easy to do once you know how... (Last year my first attempt ended in prying open the lid with a screwdriver and ever more furiously hacking away at the contents, and finally I gave up and submerged the whole thing in the sink to soak overnight...)

According to Beth it is very simple: just sprinkle the bottom dish with flour, place the dough on the clay dish (you could flour the bottom and sides of your doughball to be on the safe side) and move it around to cover the entire dish and part of the sides with the flour. Slash the top and cover with the bell dome and let rest for 20 minutes, no more.
Before placing in the oven, rinse inside of the domed cloche cover with water, drain off excess drips. Replace cover and place dish in the center of the preheated oven (450F). After 10 minutes reduce oven to 400, set timer again for 20 minutes then remove the cover and allow for the loaf to brown thoroughly, 20-30 minutes longer.

Knowing this I think you can bake any kind of loaf (the kinds you normally would freeform and bake on a sheet) in the cloche successfully.
If you have a love for baking bread I strongly recommend you get a copy of this book, you will not be disappointed! I've been strolling back in the kitchen a couple of times now, just to have another look and a smell. Too bad I can't sample a tiny piece... Wish I could send you some. Another pic then?


  1. Baking Soda, That is a perfect loaf! What a beauty! And you didn't have even a little bite? You are so strong.
    I have the same book and gave it to Jason also - everything I've done out of it has come out beautifully.
    And you did this in a Romertopf - I almost got one of those years ago - now you've rekindled the urge.

  2. Wow, that looks perfect to me!
    Dear o dear it gets better everytime!
    Mmmm, I've been buying so many books in Italy that my newly build bookshelfs (Just for my bakingbooks) is now (too) full already.
    My mother used to cook sometimes in this Römertopf (I never liked the taste of the thing) time I'm at my father's, I think I have a look around for it.
    I vaguely remember that he (my dad) offered it to me once or twice (with a 'no' from me still remembering that awful taste)..I just can't remember if he has chucked it away or still is hoping for a "OK, give it to me then.."

  3. That is a beautiful loaf of bread. I love the way you slashed the top. It reminds me of a watermelon.

  4. I also have Beth Hensperger's Bread for all Seasons, and I love it! My favorite of the recipes I've tried has been the Four-Seed Buttermilk Bread...but I tend to love my bread chock full of goodies! Most recently, I tried her Buckwheat and Honey Oatmeal Bread, which I also really loved.

    I just discovered your site, and I love it!



  5. This is my first time visiting you blog, and I will be coming here more often now :). That loaf of bread looks beautiful, makes me want to get into the kitchen and try my hand at it. Thank you for sharing !


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