Best bread cloches and cast irons for baking sourdough at home in 2024

This list includes some specifically designed cloches, as well as cast iron casserole dishes, which are super versatile pieces of cookware and work well for baking bread. We tested our bread cloches using sourdough, but you can use them to bake other types of loaves, too.

Read on for the best way to bring your home bakes to the next level.

Fancy making your own sourdough at home? Learn how to make your own sourdough starter and use our sourdough recipes. If you’re feeding your sourdough starter and trying to reduce waste, check out our sourdough discard recipes.

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Best bread cloches at a glance

  • Best bread cloche for large loaves: Le Creuset Cast Iron Oval Signature Casserole Dish 33cm, £231.75
  • Best affordable Dutch oven for bread: Our Place Cast Iron Perfect Pot, £150
  • Best blow out Dutch oven for bread: Staub La Cocotte 26cm Round Cast Iron, £319
  • Best lightweight bread cloche: Netherton Foundry Spun Iron Baking Cloche, £110.99
  • Best for proving and baking: KitchenAid Bread Bowl with Baking Lid, £119.20

Best bread cloches for baking sourdough in 2024

Le Creuset Cast Iron Oval Signature Casserole Dish 33cm

Le Creuset casserole dish with olive accreditation badge

Best bread cloche for large loaves

Star rating: 5/5

Le Creuset is famous for its casserole dishes, and the cast-iron build means they conduct heat efficiently for baking bread. There are numerous colours and sizes to choose from. For testing, we tried the oval Signature Casserole in 33cm to try baking a batard (oval sourdough loaf).

The combination of enamel and cast iron is Le Creuset’s signature, but they are weighty products. You need two hands to lift this casserole dish in and out of the oven, though the handles are helpful. There wasn’t much mess to clean up after we baked our bread, but this entire dish and lid can go in the dishwasher, which makes for an easy clean-up.

On test, our loaf had a nice rise and evenly coloured crust with a good thickness at the base and on top. This Le Creuset is a super versatile piece of cookware with the capability to cook soups, stews and even roast a chicken.

Available from:

Le Creuset (£379)

Amazon (£231.75)

Our Place Cast Iron Perfect Pot

Our Place Cast Iron Perfect Pot with olive accreditation badge

Best affordable Dutch oven for bread

Star rating: 5/5

Our Place might be the new kid on the block when it comes to cast iron (compared to Le Creuset and Staub), but we were impressed by the performance of its cookware. Not only is this casserole dish more affordable than other models we’ve tested, it also comes in a range of muted, on-trend colours, like sage and lavender.

The pot comes in one size, which we found worked well for a 1k boule sourdough loaf, but it’s unlikely you’d be able to bake a large loaf in there. We liked that this model comes with accessories – a spoon and silicone grips – which was a helpful safety feature for getting it in and out of the oven.

On test, our loaf came out with an attractive golden colour after the recommended bake time. It had risen well, and the heat had conducted evenly through the base to produce a firm, crisp crust and overall we were very happy with the cooking results.

Available from:

Our Place (£150)

Staub La Cocotte 26cm Round Cast Iron

Staub La Cocotte 26cm Round Cast Iron with olive accreditation badge

Best blow out Dutch oven for bread

Star rating: 5/5

This casserole dish from Staub is certainly an investment, but its sturdiness and attractive design means it has nearly endless uses, including baking bread. Coming in a range of bright, dynamic colours, including grenadine-red and basil-green, it’s eye-catching enough to live on your hob, or could be stored in a cupboard with the lid inverted.

The weighty dish needs two hands to lift it, but on test, we found it was relatively easy to place and remove from the oven thanks to the handles. The cast iron conducted heat impressively, and our loaf had a nice crust on the base as well as the top.

The casserole dish can go in the dishwasher, but since our loaf didn’t stick, we found it easy to clean by hand. If you’re after a super versatile piece of kit to last a lifetime, this is a great choice. We tested the 26cm size for our oval 1kg loaf which maintained its shape well, but there are 11 sizes to choose from.

Netherton Foundry Spun Iron Baking Cloche

Netherton Foundry Spun Iron Baking Cloche with olive accreditation badge

Best lightweight bread cloche

Star rating: 4.5/5

Netherton Foundry is a family-owned business, and its experts spin their bread cloches in Shropshire. The cloche is made from super light-weight iron, which makes it easier to lift and transport compared to other cloches on test. We were impressed that this product arrived in fully recyclable packaging made from paper and cardboard. It’s pre-seasoned with oil to make it non-stick, but you will need to continue to season it with use, and make sure you’re keeping it dry to avoid any rusting.

The cloche is bell-shaped with a large base that could be used for a variety of loaves, as well as for pizzas. Its height means it’s fairly bulky to store and you’ll need to dedicate some space to it. After preheating the cloche for 30 minutes, we lined it with greaseproof paper and added our loaf. Since this model doesn’t have any handles we found it difficult to remove from an under-the-counter oven, and we had to take out the oven shelf to remove the cloche safely.

Our final loaf was well risen with a thick crust, and the base was golden. We didn’t have any trouble removing it from the cloche. If you bake a lot of bread and want a specific cloche without the weight of cast iron, then this is the option for you.

Available from:

Sous Chef (£110.99)

Netherton Foundry (£133.20)

KitchenAid Bread Bowl with Baking Lid

KitchenAid Bread Bowl with Baking Lid with olive accreditation badge

Best for proving and baking

Star rating: 4/5

This bread cloche is a little different from others on the list. Rather than being made from cast iron, this model is ceramic and built as an accessory to the KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer. It can be used for mixing dough, proofing and baking.

On test, we used it to mix our sourdough, which was an easy process as the stand mixer did all the hard work. We then removed it from the mixer and used the lid to prove the dough. We were impressed by how doing it all in one made the process relatively mess-free.

When baking, we preheated the bowl for the recommended 30 minutes in a 200C oven, but it’s safe up to 260C. To bake you need to invert the bowl so the lid acts as the base, but it’s worth noting that the height means you’ll need to place it on the bottom oven shelf. The circumference of the lid is fairly small – our 1k loaf fitted nicely, but you couldn’t bake a larger one. Our final loaf had a nice height, although the crust at the base was thinner and paler when compared to other loaves we’d baked in cloches made from cast iron.

If you’re looking for greater versatility from your KitchenAid Artisan mixer and regularly bake bread, this would be a good option.

Are bread cloches worth it?

If you regularly bake bread at home, using a cloche is a simple way to ensure a better crust and get a more even bake. However, they’re not essential, and a cloche can be costly as well as bulky to store if you only bake from time to time.

If you’ve got an oven with a normal temperature range, you’ll be able to bake using a regular baking sheet and produce good results.

However, if you’re after versatility, it might be worth investing in a casserole dish. Cast iron is a fantastic conductor of heat, which means it works to produce a good crust and rise, as well as working well for soups, stews and roast meats.

What does a cast iron bread oven do?

Cast iron is a great conductor of heat, which makes it a great material for cooking. This means it can heat up to high temperatures and retains heat well.

The most important thing for using a cast iron Dutch oven as a bread cloche is that it has a lid. This works to keep the heat circulating, essentially working as a small bread oven at a higher temperature than your wider oven. The direct contact with the base of the cast iron also means you’ll have a high-quality crust on the base of your loaf.

We lined our cast iron bread cloches with greaseproof paper to make sure the loaves didn’t stick, but don’t be tempted to grease the inside of the dish — high temperatures will burn the grease, which will in turn impact the flavour of the bread.

How we test bread cloches

We tested our bread cloches using this white sourdough recipe from our friends at BBC Good Food. We mix our bread by hand and used banneton baskets to keep the loaves in the fridge overnight. For each test, we preheated the bread cloche in a 200C fan oven for half an hour. We lined each cloche with greaseproof paper and scored the loaves before putting them into the cloche with the lid on.

We removed the lid of the cloche for the final 10 minutes of cooking time. Once baking was complete, we monitored how long it took for the cloche to cool.

We scored based on set criteria, including ease of use, versatility, cooking results, quality of materials and sustainability.

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