These domes are designed to go into an ordinary domestic oven, where they create the effect of a brick oven, producing a beautiful, rounded loaf with a crisp crust and moist crumb. Most of the baking aromas that normally drift round the kitchen so temptingly are trapped and concentrated in the crust, which tastes remarkably sweet and nutty.
This beautiful dome, specially made for us by gifted artist Sigrid Hovmand on the island of Samsø in Denmark, will take up to 2 kg of a whole-grain dough and about 1.6 kg of a lighter plain dough.
Having fermented your dough up to the point where it would normally be put into a tin, you should shape it into a fairly tight cob and place it on the base of the domes which has been greased with a very small amount of olive oil (or similar). Place the lid on and allow the bread to prove until it is about two-thirds proved. The time this takes will depend on the type and temperature of the dough, but normally the signs are that the dough has flowed out to the edges of the dome and has begun to rise upwards a little. If you leave it proving for too long, the dough may rise up and touch the dome lid, making it hard to remove to inspect the state of the dough.
Put the dome in a cold oven. Turn it to 220°C and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 200°C and continue baking for another 45 minutes. Then remove the lid and, if necessary, bake for a further 5-10 minutes to complete a firm crust.
Another way to use the dome is to pre-heat it (with the lid on) in a hot oven for at least 30 minutes. Then turn your proved loaf, e.g. from a proving basket, onto the hot base, replace the lid and return the dome to the oven. Keep the oven at its hottest setting for 10 minutes and then reduce it by 20°C. Baking will probably take 40-50 minutes for a 2 kg dough piece. If using this method, it is easier to bake a smaller amount of dough, say 1-1.5 kg, in the dome. This allows a gap between the dome and the dough and a chance for some moisture to condense on the dough surface, thus developing a particularly crunchy crust.
The dome base may also be usedby itself, pre-heated in a hot oven, as a pizza stone.