La Cloche Baking Dome Review

 
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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.

Sourdough loaf baked in the La Cloche baking dome
Sourdough loaf baked in the La Cloche baking dome

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

  1. Always heat the clay baking dome with the oven, from cold to hot. Don’t put the clay baker in an already hot oven.
  2. Never make the mistake to spray the hot clay surface with cold water.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

 

Best oat bread recipes

 
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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.

Oat bread loaf
Oat bread loaf

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.

Whole oat groats bread
Whole oat groats bread
Ingredients
  • 70g whole oat groats
  • 400g strong white bread flour
  • 50g fine oatmeal
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 80 g grated apple (no skin)
  • 215g tepid water
  • Rolled oats for dipping the loaf
How to make whole oat bread
  1. Simmer the oat groats in plenty of water for 30 minutes
  2. Strain the groats under cold water and set aside
  3. 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
  4. Form a dough and knead for 10 mins
  5. Place the dough back in bowl for 1 hour or so for its first rise
  6. Punch down the dough, then shape into a round loaf and place into a pre-floured round bread banneton
  7. Proof for several hours at room temperature until fully risen (the time this takes will depend on the temperature in your room)
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C (if you are using a La Cloche baking dome, preheat the dome in the oven from cold)
  9. Bake at 220°C for 1o minutes, then at 200°C for another 50 minutes
  10. 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.

Ingredients
  • 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
  1. In a large bowl, combine the porridge oats with the bicarb of soda and mix
  2. Add the crushed walnuts and mix further
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the beaten egg, milk, water and natural yoghurt and whisk together
  4. Combine the dry with the wet ingredients
  5. Place in a baking tin
  6. Bake at 190°C for about an hour until the inside temperature is at 94°C
  7. 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.

Rolled oat bread
Rolled oat bread
Ingredients

Sourdough

  • 9g sourdough starter
  • 85g strong white bread flour
  • 85g water

Oat soaker

  • 300g rolled oats
  • 600g hot water

Main dough

  • 475g strong white bread flour
  • 120g dark rye flour
  • 200g water
  • 21g salt
  • 7g dried yeast

Coating

  • Some more rolled oats
How to make oat bread
  1. Prepare the sourdough by combining the sourdough ingredients in a bowl. Cover and keep at room temperature for 16 – 24 hours.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Knead for a good few minutes until you have a homogeneous and even dough.
  5. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.
  6. Give the dough another quick knead, then place in a large lightly-oiled Pullman baking tin (33 x 10 cm).
  7. Distribute the dough evenly, then coat the top with rolled oats.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.