Another month, another Bread Baking Babes Bread. This month by the lovely Karen Baking Soda ("Bake my Day"), she picked a bread that is baked in a pot. A clay pot is one option. I know of several people who have baked bread in the so called "Römertopf" (or his cheaper brother "Schlemmertopf"), that were quite a rage for experimental cooks in the 70's. My mother was one of those cooks and we had all kinds of meals from this pot. I could smell it all the way up in my attic room when it was Schlemmertopf-day once again. I never got to like it. Meals that I would have loved when made in a normal pan or dish, got an awful taste from being prepared in this clay-pot and I wasn't the only one at home that felt this way.
But this was all a long time ago. My mother died 21 years ago and a few years ago I found that the notorious clay pot was still hiding in a cupboard at my parent's house, so I took it with me to use for baking bread in it. But when it got here... it went back into the cupboard, my cupboard this time. I never found the courage to bake bread in it, because of the memories from this "Topf". But then there was this month's challenge from Karen and finally I stood up to it and bake in this clay devil. I though it would be a clever idea to minimize the dough touching the clay, plus I heard Karen's story of having to hack her bread out of the pot, so I used baking parchment on the bottom and enough flour around the edges. The recipe and the cloche instructions worked really good and as I used all white flour, I was sure the kids would love it.
The bread turned out very nice; puffed up nicely, good crumb. But for me the bread had this familiar taste and smell of the past. Especially in some spots where it came through real strong. I tried to ignore it. But even the kids with their love for white bread started to complain about the taste. We persevered, but it was just a too nasty taste, so we fed the last slices to the chickens. They didn't mind the taste, but hey they eat worms too. I can't decribe it really what it tastes like, a combination of clay, iron and the taste of a dentist's treatment. Is this just my topf? Maybe, but I will never trust these pots again. Next time I'll take this wonderful recipe Karen selected and bake it in a iron pot, I'm sure that will be a perfect bread. Thanks Karen for taking my hand and bake in this traumatizing topf for the first time... and the last time too, clearing out my cupboard this way, cause now I know I just still hate this pot! It's going to the second hand shop asap.
But this recipe rocks, bake it in your choice of pot/pan and become our Bread Baking Buddy. Bake, tell, post and send your details to Karen, who's kitchen of the month, so she can add your bread to a wonderful round up. Deadline 29th of this month.
(makes 1 loaf that fits in a “Römertopf/Schlemmertopf”)
(PRINT recipe)Sponge (takes 2 hours)
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cups tepid water (230 ml)
1 cups unbleached ap or bread flour (140 g)
1/4 cup sugar (50 gr)
Dough (first rise 2-3 hours, second only 15 minutes!)
½ tsp active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
1 ½ tsp salt
4 TBsp olive oil
2 ½ - 3 cups bread flour (I used about 430 g)
a little extra bread flour (for kneading if necessary and for the bowl)
1. Prepare the sponge: In a large bowl mix yeast plus ½ cup of the flour and the sugar using a large whisk. Add remaining ½ cup of flour and beat hard until very smooth, 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temp until soft, spongy and pleasantly fermented, 2 hours.
2. Prepare the dough: Using a wooden spoon, beat down the sponge. Alternatively, beat down the sponge in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In a measuring cup, stir the yeast into the warm water to dissolve. Add the yeast, warm water, salt and olive oil to the sponge and beat well. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating vigorously until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl.
3. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead about 5 minutes until a smooth dough is formed. Will be firm yet springy and resilient. Adding only 1 tbs flour at a time to prevent sticking. Place the dough in a floured deep container, dust the top with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at cool room temp until tripled in bulk, 2.1/2 - 3 hours.
4. Shaping: Again turn out the dough on a clean surface. It will be slightly sticky from the long rise. Knead in about 1/4 cup more flour to make a firmer dough, about 1 minute. Shape into a tight round ball. Pull the ends tightly to the center of the loaf to form a smooth bottom and sides. Mist the surface with water. Using about 2 tbs of flour, heavily coat the top surface.
Using a serrated knife, slash the top surface decoratively, no more than 1/4 inch deep to allow steam to escape and to allow room for the dough to expand.
Sprinkle the dish with flour and place the dough ball in the center of the dish. Move the dough around to cover the bottom and up the sides a bit with flour.
Cover with the cloche dome/bell and let rest at room temp 15 minutes. Before placing in the oven, rinse the inside of the cloche bell with water, draining off excess drips.
Place back over the bread and place in the preheated 425F oven.
Bake 10 minutes. Lower thermostat to 400F and bake a further 25-35 minutes. Remove the bell after 30 minutes of baking to allow the loaf to brown thoroughly.
Remove and cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
If you'd like to use your bread baking stone or tiles; let rise a second time for 35 minutes then use same oven setting but don't lower the temp. and bake until the bread is golden brown, crisp and sounds hollow when tapped.
(Source: “Bread for all seasons” by Beth Hensperger)