Porsches are to cars, as the German-made Romertopf is to terra-cotta cooking vessels. They’re that good.
Philip sent me one (Romertopf, not a Porsche) because as a non-baker, he had to listen to me on the phone whine about my bread being dry. I guess it finally got to him, so one came in via UPS one recent day. We all also learned from his latest post that one of his chickens is rather dense.
The beauty of these clay ovens is that you soak them before adding your ingredients (in my case ready-to-rise) bread dough, and it cooks what’s in it without drying it out. Think meat, veggies, stews and soups, etcetera. It’s almost like a pressure cooker without the pressure.
Needless to say, I put my Romertopf to work right away by mixing and kneading my bread dough in the Zojirushi bread maker and letting it rise and bake in the terra-cotta. The ultimate in laziness, I know.
Here’s what you need for Karl bread (whether making the dough by hand or machine):
- 1.33 cups of water
- 4.25 cups of bread flour
- 4T sugar
- 2T Dry milk (this really pisses Philip off—he hates powdered milk, but I wouldn’t know how much real milk to use)
- 2t salt
- 2.5T butter (I cut mine into chunks)
- 2t active dry yeast
- Add 30% for a bigger loaf (next time, I’ll add 50% more, to fill up the Romertopf)
Set machine to mix and knead, and ignore it till it’s done.
What to do:
- Put a sheet of parchment paper in the Romertopf so it extends beyond the tops of the sides and you can easily lift out the bread loaf when done.
- Arrange the bread dough in the Romertopf, cover, and let rise.
- Put bottom of Romertopf in water and let it soak for 10-15 minutes, then do the same for the top.
- Now it’s time to bake.
- Never, ever put a terra-cotta cooker in a hot stove. Always start with a cold oven.
- In this case, put the Romertopt/dough in the oven and turn to 500 degrees.
- Let it bake for 45 minutes.
- After that amount of time, if the top crust is not cooked to your liking, take off the top of the Romertopf and cook until done.
- When done, never, ever put the Romertopf on a cold stone or metal surface; always lay a towel down first. Quick temperature changes will crack the terra-cotta and make it useless.
- Lift out the bread with the parchment paper and let it cool on a rack.
This is a work in progress. Each loaf will be better than the one before it.