I would like to purchase a breadtopia clay baker. I already have a lodge logic combo for the round (boule) shape. For those who use the clay baker, which shape do you prefer and why, the oblong or the batard? Do you slice them the same (vertical cuts?) Are both of these shapes useful for sandwiches? Do you usually bake two of the same thing? Or do you bake different loaves at the same time (boule and batard vs 2 boules ?) Thanks ahead of time!
I have a dutch oven for boule and the oblong in clay (Breadtopia). I don’t have a batard so cannot compare batard to oblong.
I bought the oblong baker and banneton this past Summer after seeing @fermentada results and comments on her Instagram. I love it! The size of the loaves in height and circumference is similar to a bread pan loaf of bread which makes it perfect for sandwiches. Not that batard and boule cannot be sliced in half, etc. but the oblong makes a nice squarish slice. I find the oblong shape easier to slice than a boule: easier to hold and for the knife. Aesthetically, I think the boule and/or batard are “prettier”, but as I slice my bread and freeze, it is not an issue.
As far as which I use and baking together, I typically bake 1 loaf at a time. If I’ve made enough dough for multiple loaves, I still bake one at a time and store the remainder of the dough in the frig. This is just personal preference. I slice and eat the fresh baked for 2 days, then slice and freeze what is left and bake the 2nd loaf, etc. If I’ve made 2 different doughs, I might bake 2 loaves together: my 3 quart dutch oven (10 year old Lodge enamel) and the oblong baker fit easily in my oven.
Oh boy, I have both and if you told me to pick one that would be difficult.
The oblong baker makes loaves that seem to spring and look beautiful no matter what haphazard shaping effort I make. Perhaps because of the small distance between
dough and lid?
The circumference of the resulting bread is small enough that my kids can cut it easily. Sandwiches are still reasonably sized…one is enough for lunch (unless you’re a sporty, growing teen, then two).
The batard/oval baker is so classic. Honestly it gives great bloom, too, it’s just that shaping batards is maybe more challenging imo.
Some things to think about are: How much do you like crust versus crumb? You get a higher ratio of crust to crumb in the oblong. How much do you enjoy/dislike cutting slices? (Do you have a bread murderer in your house? Haha)
I always bake two loaves at once, rarely the same shape (and I often roast vegetables in the oven when it’s cooling down).
@nellie.herman, I have the Breadtopia batard (country loaf shape) clay baker that I use exclusively for all my breads. It is the only clay baker that I own. I chose that shape because I felt it was the most consistent shape for making sandwiches or simply enjoying a nice slice of toast. Since I was only interested in purchasing one clay baker I wanted to choose one that I felt had the most “universal” shape conducive to multi use of the finished bread. For me, the country loaf shaped batard fit the bill.
Bread murderer, hah!
I have the oblong clay baker and a Romertopf. Those are the bakers that I use most often because I prefer the oblong loaf to the round loaf. But, I also have a 4 qt Lodge DO and an Emile Henry cloche - which I use when I want round loaves. When I bake round loaves, I slice them at right angles, alternating either side. This approach makes for more uniform slices.
To start with, I think you should pick the shape you like the best to start with or use a covered pot you may already have (e,g. Cast iron). After years of artisan bread baking I select the shape based on the bread I’m making. And love cloches. I bought my first (a Romertopf) because I had been giving myself serious burns tricking my oven to work like a steam oven. No more burns! I’ve come to own 6 brotforms in an array of shapes and use 8 cloches in varying material - clay (4 by Breadtopia and Romertopf), ceramic (3 by Emile Henry), spun steel (1 by Netherton) and in varying shapes - long clay cylinder, batard, boule and sandwich. I also have 2 covered Pullman pans for rugbrød. My husband likes a mixed whole grain sandwich bread in the “traditional” sandwich shape,” I bake Jewish ryes in batards, rugbrød I alway bake in a Pullman, breads to be gifted in boules, and so on. I have fit as many as 4 covered cloches in 2 sizes at one time in my oven, but it depends in your oven size, how much you can move the shelves. The design of slash cuts on my breads depend on shape, type of bread, and/or mood.
I purchased both when I first started with sourdough. The oblong baker produces a loaf that can be usd for a “ normal” sized sandwich. The batard makes a much wider loaf that makes a normal sized sandwich for me but is too much for my wife. She just uses one slice then cuts it in half. Keep in mind that the batard slice probably won’t fit in most toasters where the oblong slice will. I frequently bake two loaves( one in each cloche) and they seem to bake roughly for the same amount of time, and both fit in the oven together. I usually give one of the loaves away. I can’t say I prefer one over the other. Both work great and produce great bread!