There are many ways to get a crusty loaf of bread, but one of our favorites is to use the tried and true method of baking in a clay cloche. It is very similar to using a Dutch Oven, but the cloche was designed to bake bread, so it is an even more intuitive method. In other words, you aren’t lowering the bread into the piping hot vessel, you just lift the lid and slide the loaf onto what is essentially a baking stone. The cloche traps the steam from the dough to create a perfectly crisp and beautifully shiny crust, without having to add steam to the oven.
This loaf was made with our Master Recipe from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, using Gold Medal All-purpose flour, Platinum Yeast from Red Star, water and salt, that’s it! If you’ve never made our bread, or just want a refresher, please watch our new video that we put together in the Gold Medal baking studio. In no time at all you’ll have a gorgeous, homemade, crusty loaf of bread. As a celebration of our new book, the holidays and your support, we’re giving away everything you need to make this loaf of bread and many, many more. Just leave us a comment below to enter, our usual contest rules apply (click here for rules); . We’ll announce the randomly picked winner next week.
OK, it’s finally 85 degrees in Minneapolis, so we really have to get outside and do everything on the gas grill. Even Swedish Limpa Rye, which we’ll get to in a second. But first, the five winners of last week’s drawing for free copies of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The winners are: Brie, E Nassar, One Crafty Mumma, Jules, and Sheri M. Please drop me an e-mailwith your snail-mail address so we can send you a book. As always, please use this website, not e-mail to submit bread questions.
So many people asked us about baking our dough inside a closed cast-iron pan that Zoe did a beautifulpost on the subject a few weeks ago. The cast-iron pan method is based on a much older method, where bread is baked inside a closed clay pot (or “cloche,” meaning “bell” in French). Both methods depend on trapped steam from the dough to create a perfect crust, but the clay pot has the added benefit of being porous, so moisture is trapped, but also conducted away from the surface as the bread bakes. I tested the Sassafras brand “La Cloche” product, and I’m very impressed with the crust I’m getting –take a look at the picture above; this crust is thin and shatters when broken (the burned bits are perfect in artisan loaves; that’s how you know you’ve baked long enough). Keep in mind that these crust results are hard to re-create with loaves very high in whole wheat (because of oils in the wheat’s germ). The bread above is about 15% whole grains– it’s a light version of the Peasant Loaf on page 46 of the book. Whole grain breads perform beautifully in “La Cloche,” but the crust tends to be softer and thicker.
For crust aficionados, I think the ”La Cloche” results are a little better than what I get inside closed cast-iron. We didn’t put these two methods in our first book, because we wanted to keep things as simple as possible. But with results like these, they’re going into he second one (publication date is 10/13/09)! Continue reading →