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Mar 15, 2009 06:18 AM

Flower Pot Bread Bakers

This is the time of year when your local nursery is likely to stock Italian unglazed terra cotta bulb pan pots. They are shorter than azalea pots and much shorter than standard pots. The size slightly over ten inches (it has 27 stamped on it, and I take that to mean 27 cm) is the perfect size for boules made with three or four cups of flour.
For a bread that you would bake in a casserole, simply put a round of fo

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  1. This is the incomplete version of my posting. Something got messed up when I tried to edit it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Father Kitchen

      Father, do the pots need to be seasoned in any way, or soaked in water before baking in them?

      1. re: Gio

        Gio, this entry got screwed up. I slipped and hit a key that saved it when I had a few lines written. So I quickly hit edit and pulled it up and completed the text. I saved that. But for some reason, two different versions came up. Both have the same title. I hope the team catches the mistake. As I mention in the fuller version, clean them with plain water, let them dry thoroughly. When dry, smear the business surfaces generously with shortening. Then put htem in a cold oven and bake them for about 30 minutes at 450. I think Elizabeth David simply has you crank up the heat. Charel Scheele does it gradually--starting at 250 and raising the temp 100 degrees at 20 minute intervals--which is what I usually do. Turn the oven off and let the pot cool down. Rinse with plain water to remove any ash that may have formed if any of the shortening burned. Usually there is none. I use it both like a casserole and like a bread cloche. If I use it like a casserole for the no knead bread, I put a round of foil on the bottom (a piece of aluminum pie tin works well) and use a terra cotta saucer as the top. If I use it like a cloche to bake a scored French boule, I slide the loaf onto the preheated saucer using a peel and cover it with the preheated pot. In that case, I plug the hole with a wad of foil. Silicon mittens make handling it much easier.

        1. re: Father Kitchen

          Great! I was wondering what you did to plug the hole at the bottom. I have made Easter bread in a coffee can, but using a terra cotta pot appeals to me.
          Hah... I wonder why>
          Many thanks, Father.

          1. re: Gio

            If you like coffee-can bread, you can use smaller, regular flower pots. And you can always fully line them with foil if pretreating them is a hassle. The larger pot acts like a cloche or heat retained oven. The loaf is free-standing and doesn't touch the pot walls. The smaller pot acts more like a bread pan. Both approaches work quite well.
            Not long ago I saw glazed stoneware pots designed for flower-pot bread. They were sold complete with a package of bread mix. I think I saw them at a pottery shop in Harpers Ferry, W.V., but I recall seeing some years ago in a pottery in western Washington State.
            Last week I baked two loaves simultaneously: one under a cloche from Sassafras Industries and the other under a #27 terra cotta pot. The results were identical, but I noticed that the pot actually held the heat a few minutes longer as it cooled. So the thermal mass of the terra cotta is perfectly adequate. And you did get the next best thing to bread baked in a retained heat oven. As Dan Wing noted in his remarks on the La Cloche in "The Oven Builders," the results are astonishing. But then anyone who has baked a loaf in Dutch oven or similar casserole already knows that. The advantage to the flour pot is that it is so much cheaper.
            By the way, a year or two ago someone on this site mentioned that he tried using a terra cotta window box for long loaves and got excellent results.