>From: "flash gordon, md" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Date: Sat, 23 Mar 1996 09:17:15 -0800
>Subject: Crusty bread: you don't need a new oven
>before buying a new oven, try this:
>go to your local cookware store and buy a "romertopf" clay cooking pot. it
>comes in different sizes: i use the one big enough for a 4 pound chicken.
>prepare your dough as usual <instructions snipped>
>BTW, i've seen clay pots specially designed for baking french loaves. i've
>never tried 'em, but they look like they'd work. OTOH, the romertopf also
>lets you cook a lot of other things well, too.
Flash gives you some very good information here; however, I thought I would
put in a few words for this other device he referred to, called a cloche.
The cloche is generally made of stoneware, not clay; therefore, it is not
soaked prior to baking. You can preheat the top or lid while the oven is
preheating, but it's not absolutely necessary.
The cloche comes in various shapes, such as round and oblong like a French
loaf shape. I have the round one, and I've found that it makes *wonderful*
bread! The crust is absolutely...well, you've just gotta taste it. It is
Not to diminish flash's statements, but I should also mention that the
cloche can be used for other foods besides bread, just as the clay baker
can. In fact, the instructions that came with mine indicate it is a nice
cooker for fish...makes a sort of poaching type of atmosphere with the top
on and the steam being held inside. I haven't used mine for anything
besides bread, but just wanted to mention what the instructions say.
So, as far as I've seen, you have 3 different suggestions now: 1)
incorporate steam into the oven by placing a pan of water on a rack below
the loaf during baking; 2) try out a clay baker (one brand is called
Romertopf, another is Schlemmertopf, etc.); 3) try a cloche, which is made
of stoneware and comes in different shapes.
All of these should get you some better results with bread. Please do let
us know how it turns out!