Yes, you can use clay cookware for baking bread and pastries, and it can produce excellent results. Baking in clay provides unique advantages that can enhance the texture and flavor of bread and pastries. Here are some popular types of clay cookware and how they can be used for baking:
1. Clay Bread Baker (Cloche or La Cloche):
A clay bread baker, often called a cloche or la cloche, is specifically designed for baking bread. It consists of a deep clay base and a domed lid. Here’s how to use it:
– Preheat the cloche in your oven.
– Place the shaped bread dough (usually on parchment paper) into the hot base.
– Cover the bread with the preheated domed lid to create a steamy environment.
– Bake as directed in your bread recipe. The enclosed space helps create a crisp crust and a tender crumb.
2. Clay Pizza Stone or Baking Stone:
Clay pizza stones or baking stones are versatile and can be used for baking various bread and pastry items, including pizza, artisan bread, and pastries:
– Preheat the clay stone in your oven to the desired temperature.
– Place the bread or pastry directly on the hot stone or use parchment paper for easy transfer.
– Bake as directed in your recipe. The stone absorbs moisture from the dough, creating a crisp crust and even cooking.
3. Clay Pot or Dutch Oven:
A clay pot or Dutch oven can also be used for baking bread. It’s often referred to as “Dutch oven bread baking.” Here’s how:
– Preheat the clay pot or Dutch oven in the oven.
– Place the bread dough (on parchment paper, if desired) into the hot pot.
– Cover with the lid and bake as directed in your recipe. The enclosed space and steam generated within the pot create a great bread-baking environment.
4. Clay Tart Pans or Pie Plates:
Clay tart pans and pie plates can be used for baking pies, quiches, and tarts. The clay helps create a crispy crust:
– Preheat the clay tart pan or pie plate in the oven.
– Place the pie or tart dough into the hot pan.
– Add your filling and bake as directed in your recipe.
5. Clay Oven Tiles or Baking Tiles:
Clay oven tiles or baking tiles can be placed on oven racks to provide even heat distribution and help create a crisp crust for bread, pizzas, and pastries. Simply preheat the tiles and place your items directly on them.
When using clay cookware for baking, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for preheating and care. Additionally, be cautious about sudden temperature changes to prevent thermal shock, especially with unglazed clay cookware. Baking with clay can impart a unique flavor and texture to your bread and pastries, making them even more delicious.