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Best Bread Cloche: The Classic Cloche and More

bread baked in a bread cloche

Finding the best bread cloche can absolutely transform the experience of baking breads at home.

It can take things to professional level, compared to what bakeries are able to achieve only that you’ll do that in your non-professional kitchen.

A cloche can also serve as a perfectly fancy gift for bread bakers.

Best Bread Cloche: My 3 Recommendations

We’ll first review the original bread cloche, which is manufactured by Emile Henry. These are made in France and have the classic low base with a very tall dome.

However, I’ll also introduce other models, including a Lodge cast iron Dutch oven, which is a very cheap alternative to the cloche. The breads baked are of the same quality and that’s what matters.

1. Emile Henry Bread Cloche – The Original Best Bread Cloche

Emile Henry is the most famous manufacturer when it comes to searching for the best bread cloche. It has the classic cloche models. They might be expensive but if you want the best, check this one out.

This bread cloche from Emile Henry is quite big, too. You can make 2 – 2.5 pounds loaves.

Why you should use a bread cloche

The advantage of using this kind of bakeware is that the base is extremely low. Transferring the dough for baking in the preheated cloche will go down effortlessly. There’s no risk of burning by touching the very hot sides.

It’s made of ceramic, a material that withstands extreme temperatures without any damage. As the manufacturer tells us, it can be taken directly from the freezer to the hot oven. It withstands temperatures up to 500 degrees F.

That comes in handy because you have to preheat it empty with the dome on before transferring the dough for the baking.

They actually describe it as innovative refractory ceramic, which will lead to baking loaves with nice thick crusts and firm light crumb.

The quality is top-notch and the whole thing looks amazing. It’s also made in France.

They promote it as gaining the quality of a bread oven thanks to the fact that the lid traps the steam to create an environment similar to a stem-injected oven.

A recipe book is also included and there are plenty of recipes on their website. You can also use books about bread, a large majority of recipes can be adapted to baking in a bread cloche.

Where to Buy?

Check Price and User Reviews Here

2. Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven 5 Quart – Bread Cloche Substitute

If you’re just interested in finding the best bread cloche, just focus on what I recommended above.

However, if you want a cheaper substitute, check out this Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 5 quart. I think you can be surprised in a very good way. It’s always nice to talk about the complex world of bread baking methods. This is a good opportunity and I’m going to grab it with both hands.

The Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven is just so great, so versatile, so durable. That’s a lot of attributes to win a lot of people over or at least make them curious.

First of all, this Dutch oven is made of cast iron, which makes it very durable.

It can also be preheated empty with the lid on without a risk of cracking. Not the same assurances can be offered to all Dutch ovens who are made of enamel.

It can be used for making absolutely all kinds of recipes from breads to stews to stakes. This is the kind of model for which Dutch oven cookbooks are perfect for.

The 5 quart is size is just really nice, too. Not incredibly big but still big enough for small and large families alike.

The other impressive feature is that the lid can be used as a 10 inch cast iron skillet. It doesn’t get any better than this.

The whole pot, including the lid, can be used in the oven, on the stove, on the grill or over a campfire.

Where to Buy?

Check Price and User Reviews Here

Given all that, don’t you think that the Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven 5 Quart can just be the best bread cloche substitute?

3. Lekue Silicone Bread Maker

This is another very interesting alternative to the classic best bread cloche. It’s so intriguing. However, it works for baking smaller loaves, about 1 pound of dough.

First of all, the price is unbelievably cheap. It’s not much more expensive than a loaf pan but it offers a completely different baking method.

The fact that it’s made of silicone is what makes it so intriguing. You can actually mold this silicone bread maker so that you obtain different shapes for the loaves that you bake. You can bake a boule or a baguette or something in between.

But the results of the loaves baked rival the loaves baked in a Dutch oven or a bread cloche, that’s what makes it so interesting.

That’s because it uses the same principles of using steam during the baking. The Lekue is shaped as a partially closed bowl, which allows the steam to circulate inside. It will prevent the loaf from drying out.

Plus, the same openings in the sides, will bake bread with a crusty, golden texture.

It’s made of 100% platinum silicone to withstand high temperatures of up to 428 degrees F (220 C).

Moreover, it also comes with easy recipes to get accustomed to using it.

Where to Buy?

Check Price and User Reviews Here

How to Bake in a Bread Cloche

  • preheat the cloche empty with the lid on for 20 minutes at 450 degrees F
  • if you want to avoid making absolutely any mess and needing to clean the cloche after, place the dough on parchment paper and then slid it on the base of the cloche
  • if you don’t have parchment paper, you still need to use something to prevent the dough from sticking to the base – dusting the base with flour is the easiest alternative, a wet dough will require more flour for dusting to prevent sticking
  • place the lid on and bake it with the lid on for 30 minutes
  • remove the lid and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the bread is brown or a deep caramel color
  • place the dough on a cooling rack to cool down, without the parchment paper

To get that perfect round loaf (boule), you can proof the dough in a proofing basket.

A bread cloche is specifically created for baking the bread in a humid environment in the early baking process. It creates an environment similar to a steam-injected oven, that’s its magic.

This special environment leads to perfect crispy crusts and perfect chewy crumbs.

If I describe it like that, those of you who have some notions on the different methods of baking breads, can easily understand that a Dutch oven functions on the same principles.

Cloche vs Dutch oven

Loaves baked in a bread cloche function on the same principles as loaves baked in a Dutch oven. They definitely have that in common entirely.

What is a bread cloche?

The classic bread cloche has a small base, small in the meaning that it’s not tall at all.

The dome is very tall, it’s bell shaped.

Since the base is not tall at all, the loaf needs space to expand during the baking process and that’s why the dome is so tall.

That’s the classic bread cloche look.

Moreover, the traditional cloche is made from ceramic. Ceramic is the perfect material for handling extreme temperatures, it can be preheated empty with the lid on without risk of cracking.

What is a Dutch oven?

On the other hand, a Dutch oven is literally a pot.

It has a very large base and a classic flat lid with a handle. It definitely resembles a pot only that it’s an incredibly versatile pot, absolutely awesome for bread baking.

When looking for the best bread cloche, you’ll notice that this bakeware is not exactly cheap either. It can be totally worth it, there’s not doubt about that. But is the Dutch oven with its impressive versatility a better choice in the end?

As I said, buying a cloche will elevate your baking to professional levels. It’s a total game changer.

But so is buying the best Dutch oven. If you want to know just how versatile Dutch ovens are, check out this post on Dutch oven cookbooks.

Bread Cloche FAQs

To better understand the notion of baking in a cloche, let’s see which are the most important questions about this bakeware.

1. Do you preheat a bread cloche?

Yes, the cloche should be preheated for  20 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s always preheated with the dome on. The same goes for most Dutch ovens, those models who allow to be preheated empty.

2. How do you keep bread from sticking to cloche?

The easiest method is to bake on parchment paper. Otherwise, use flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the base.

3. Is Emile Henry good for sourdough?

As the manufacturer of the classic best bread cloche, Emile Henry can be used for baking absolutely all kinds of breads, sourdough included.