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Cookware

Terra Cotta Pots for Bittman-Lahey Bread

Father Kitchen | Nov 26, 200608:52 PM     3

I have baked in unglazed terra cotta flower pots in the past. Charel Scheele recommends terra cotta saucers and Elizabeth David gives a recipe for baking bread in an overturned terra cotta pot. If you bake in an upright pot and use the saucer as a lid, you have a good bread baker at much less the cost of metal alternatives.

The recommended size is an 8.5" diameter bulb pot. The actual dimensions from a web site were 8.25" diameter by 4.5" height. If that is the internal dimension, the pot would hold just over 4 quarts. If it is the external dimension, the internal volume is still plenty adequate. A standard loaf pan holds 1.5 quarts. A loaf with good oven spring would occupy a little more than 2 quarts of volume. Or to calculate it differently, bread dough made with 3 cups of flour occupies about 3 cups volume, 6 cups when fully risen, and 8 cups ( 2 1/2 quarts) or a little more after oven spring. So the 8.25" bulb pot would do quite nicely.

The pot is first washed with water (no soap), dried thoroughly, then greased with shortening and tempered by putting it in a cold oven which is then set to 250. The temperature is gradually raised to 450 or 500 in increments of 100 degrees every 20 minutes. The oven is then turned off and the pot allowed to cool. Thereafter, place the pot in a cool oven and preheat it.

Unfortunately, none of the garden centers near my D.C. location carry that particular pot and saucer at this time of year. I wanted to get several so I could bake more than one loaf in our oven at a time. So I will have to wait.

Will the hole in the bottom of the pot be a problem? My guess is that it won't make any difference. But, if it should, I can easily put a piece of parchment of foil over it before preheating it.

Meanwhile, I continue to bake sourdough boules on a large terra cotta saucer. It gives very good results.

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