I finally invested in a La Cloche baking dome earlier this year and what an amazing purchase it was. My loaves now brown more beautifully and I’m able to achieve a delicious looking and tasting crust while retaining a moist and chewy crumb. The baking dome arrived well-wrapped in its box and was immediately used to bake this beautiful loaf of sourdough bread. My positive experience has prompted me to write this raving review and mini guide.
What is the La Cloche baking dome?
Unglazed stoneware baking dish which consists of a clay base and domed lid
Measures 27.9 cm x 27.9 cm x 19.7 cm
Weighs 4.1 kg and is heavy enough to retain heat for the baking process
Ideal for a 1 kg round loaf
How does the baking dome work?
The baking dome traps steam from the dough within the dish.
The clay pot is porous and moisture is trapped, but also conducted away from the surface as the bread bakes.
The only initial treatment you will need to give the bread cloche is to brush the bottom with vegetable oil (sunflower oil for example) to give it a light coating. The inside of the bottom piece (the bell-shaped top part of the dish) doesn’t need it.
To use it, turn out your proved loaf into the preheated clay baker and bake the bread in the covered dome.
Tips when using the La Cloche clay baker
Always heat the clay baking dome with the oven, from cold to hot. Don’t put the clay baker in an already hot oven.
Never make the mistake to spray the hot clay surface with cold water.
In general, don’t do anything to cause the clay baker to suffer any sort of thermal shock in order to prevent it from cracking.
Use a thin layer of semolina or corn meal in the interior base before you turn out your bread onto the clay bottom in order to prevent sticking.
Uncover the bread loaf for the last 10 minutes of the bake to strengthen the crust.
Why buy the La Cloche baking dome?
Bread aesthetics Make better looking loaves of bread in your oven at home as the dome mimics a baker’s oven. If you are baking in a standard home oven, using the stoneware baking dome will almost definitely improve the aesthetics of your loaves.
Crust and crumb perfection Achieve a sublime golden-brown bread crust and a chewy and moist crumb.
It’s easy The La Cloche baking dome is easy to use, maintain and clean. You don’t need a baking stone, you don’t need to introduce water into the oven for steam, and you don’t need to dampen the cloche. All the moisture you need comes from the dough and is trapped inside.
The crunchy oatcakes I made earlier this year were the start of a new baking passion: baking with oats. Having experimented extensively over the past few months, baking with oats has become my new favourite thing. I put together this mini-guide as an introduction to this fabulous bread baking ingredient and you’ll also find my favourite oat bread recipes below.
Baking with oats: Oats properties
To start with, here is an introduction to the characteristics and baking properties of oats.
The big gluten question According to Coeliac UK, oats contain avenin, which is a protein similar to gluten. However, research has shown that most people with coeliac disease can safely eat avenin. Please note though that oats are often processed in the same places as wheat. Looking for oats which are not contaminated with wheat is therefore recommended for coeliacs.
Nutritional value Comparing oats to wheat on nutritional terms, oats have a higher fat content (11% in oats versus 4% in whole-wheat). The amount of dietary fibre is pretty much the same but oats are also higher in calcium and iron.
The crumb effect Due to natural high oil content, adding oats to dough softens the crumb and adds chewiness and moistness to the crumb.
Crust aesthetics Oat flakes are also a good choice for bread toppings as they lend additional crunch, texture and a beautiful pattern to crusts.
Oat breads When baking a leavened loaf with oatmeal, it’s best to combine it with strong wheat flour in order to produce a light loaf. That said, you can produce a delicious and unique loaf of oat bread using 100% oats, please see the recipe below.
Types of oats
Oats come in different shapes and forms. However, almost all variations have the same nutritional values based on the fact that the whole oat groat is used in the production process.
Whole oat groat kernels: unbroken oat kernels (groats) that are separated from the inedible hulls and stalks after the harvest
Pinhead oats (steel cut oats): groats that are cut into two or three pieces with a sharp metal blade
Jumbo rolled oats: oat groats that have been softened with steam and then flattened between rollers
Rolled oats: pinhead oat pieces that have been steamed and rolled into flakes
Oatmeal: stone-ground oats of varying sizes (coarse, medium, fine)
Oat flour: finer than oatmeal, made by grinding and sieving oats
Oat bran: the outer layer of the oat kernel that is ground into a coarse meal
Oat bread recipes
What I love about all of the following oat bread recipes is the velvety texture of the crumb and added richness the oats provide. Try one or all of these and find fall in love with oat breads!
Homemade whole oat bread recipe
A light yet deliciously wholesome loaf of bread using whole oat groats and a small amount of fine oatmeal in combination with strong wheat flour.
70g whole oat groats
400g strong white bread flour
50g fine oatmeal
7g dried yeast
80 g grated apple (no skin)
215g tepid water
Rolled oats for dipping the loaf
How to make whole oat bread
Simmer the oat groats in plenty of water for 30 minutes
Strain the groats under cold water and set aside
In a bowl, combine the boiled oat groats, the white bread flour, fine oatmeal, the yeast and salt, the grated apple and the tepid water
Form a dough and knead for 10 mins
Place the dough back in bowl for 1 hour or so for its first rise
Punch down the dough, then shape into a round loaf and place into a pre-floured round bread banneton
Proof for several hours at room temperature until fully risen (the time this takes will depend on the temperature in your room)
Preheat the oven to 220°C (if you are using a La Cloche baking dome, preheat the dome in the oven from cold)
Bake at 220°C for 1o minutes, then at 200°C for another 50 minutes
Cool on a wire rack
100% Oatmeal Bread Recipe
This recipe uses no wheat flour, only porridge oats mixed with crushed walnuts and combined with egg and yoghurt.
4 cups porridge oats
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1 cup walnuts, crushed
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
500g natural yoghurt
How to make 100% oat bread
In a large bowl, combine the porridge oats with the bicarb of soda and mix
Add the crushed walnuts and mix further
In a separate bowl, combine the beaten egg, milk, water and natural yoghurt and whisk together
Combine the dry with the wet ingredients
Place in a baking tin
Bake at 190°C for about an hour until the inside temperature is at 94°C
Cool on a wire rack
Rustic rolled oats bread
A large loaf of oat bread with a pillowy crumb texture and rustic crust. Great for breakfast and sandwiches.
9g sourdough starter
85g strong white bread flour
300g rolled oats
600g hot water
475g strong white bread flour
120g dark rye flour
7g dried yeast
Some more rolled oats
How to make oat bread
Prepare the sourdough by combining the sourdough ingredients in a bowl. Cover and keep at room temperature for 16 – 24 hours.
At the same time, prepare the oat soaker by dry-roasting the rolled oats in a big frying pan. Transfer to a bowl, pour over the hot water, cover and also keep at room temperature for 16 – 24 hours.
The day after, prepare the main dough by combining the sourdough, oat soaker, wheat flour, rye flour, water, salt and yeast in a large bowl.
Knead for a good few minutes until you have a homogeneous and even dough.
Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Distribute the dough evenly, then coat the top with rolled oats.
Cover with the Pullman tin lid and leave for several hours at room temperature to proof. In my relatively cold Edinburgh flat, it took a good seven hours for the bread to be fully proved. It should roughly double in size.
Bake in a preheated oven, starting at 250°C for the first 10 minutes, then turning the temperature down to 200°C for another hour.