Sourdough Boule with Japanese Clay Pot

Japanese Clay Pot (a.k.a. Donabe) is a symbol of comfort food for Japanese people.

People use Donabe for cooking rice, hot pot, stew etc.

Family members or friends come together around the table and share a meal out of one pot,

so that you can build a sense of closeness, warmness…

Sourdough Boule with Japanese Clay Pot

Therefore, I felt all warm inside when I found this Donabe.

“I want to bake BREAD with this Donabe!”

This idea just popped in my head :-)

The best part of using a clay pot (of course, a cast-iron pan, too!) is you don’t need to create the steam in your oven.

Because a closed clay pot trap all of the moisture from the dough,

and that creates STEAM you need to get a perfect crust!

It’s like a “masonry oven” inside your oven, if you will.

Even though I knew this “closed clay pot (La Cloche)” method through this post on a website called BREAD IN FIVE,

I was not sure if I could get the same result with this beautiful Japanese Donabe or not.

I reached the distributor called toiro ( and asked a couple question about this pot.

Can I use it in the high heat oven? What is the maximum oven temperature? Can I heat it not only the bottom part but the lid???

The owner was kind enough to answer my every single question, so I could move forward with this project!

(Thanks so much for your help, Naoko-san!)

Sourdough Boule with Japanese Clay Pot

Ok, let’s bake Donabe-bread!!!

This is a Sourdough Boule made with 36 hours fermentation.

Since I didn’t have a round banneton (proofing basket), instead I used a mixing bowl lined with a tea towel…

and this worked very well!

Just make sure your tea towel is well-floured to prevent the dough from sticking to it :-)

Sourdough Boule with Japanese Clay Pot

Flip the bowl onto the parchment paper so that it’s easy to handle the dough.

Score the dough and ready to bake!

Sourdough Boule with Japanese Clay Pot

My first Donabe-Bread!

Sourdough Boule with Japanese Clay Pot

It turned out super nice!

I got an amazing crust and silky-fluffy-holey crumb :-)

To be honest, I was quite surprised by this result….

No baking stone? No steam? Really?!

Sourdough Boule with Japanese Clay Pot

Yes, it really WORKS!

Donabe-bread is a new comfort food for my family :-)

Donabe “Fukkura-san” is from toiro (

Submitting this post to YeastSpotting


Sourdough Boule

Makes 1 small loaf



225 g Bread flour

162 g water

4 g Salt

67.5 g 60% Firm sourdough starter



266.3 g Bread Flour (100%)

188.3 g Water (70%)

4.8 g Salt (1.8% )



  1. Making the Levain — In a mixing bowl, combine Bread Flour, Water and Sourdough seed starter / culture. Let it preferment at room temperature for 12 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, mix flour and water, cover it with plastic and Autolyse for for 12 hours.
  3. Next day, mix starter into the dough and slap & fold for 1 minute.
  4. Add salt and slap & fold for 1 minute or until the dough becomes a rough ball.
  5. Let it rest for  30 minutes.
  6. 1 set Stretch & Fold (1 set = right over left, left over right, bottom over top, top over bottom)
  7. Let it rest for  30 minutes.
  8. 1 set Stretch & Fold
  9. Let it rest for  30 minutes.
  10. 1 set Stretch & Fold
  11. At a cooler place, let it rise until the dough just starts showing the ‘activity’ and becomes about a third in size.
  12. Put it in the fridge for 18-24 hours.
  13. Pull it out of the fridge and leave it out for 1 hour.
  14. Pre-shape the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  15. Shape into Boule and place into a mixing bowl lined with well-floured tea towel, seam-side up.
  16. Final fermentation for 60 – 90 minutes.
  17. 1 hour before you plan to bake, place your Donabe / Closed clay pot (must be completely DRY) on the middle shelf in the oven and preheat to 500°F.
  18. Flip the bowl over so that the dough sits on the middle of a parchment paper.
  19. Score the top of the Boule using a lame or a sharp, serrated knife.
  20. Very very carefully open the lid (it’s HOT!) and put the bread in the preheated Donabe, replace the lid and slip it back into the oven.
  21. Bake the bread for 30 minutes with lid.
  22. Turn the heat down to 460°F and bake for 10-15 minutes without lid.
  23. Once the boule is nicely brown, turn the heat off and remove the boule from the Donabe and place directly on a rack in the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
  24. Let them cool onto a rack.
  25. Enjoy!
7 Responses to “Sourdough Boule with Japanese Clay Pot”
  1. “Sourdough Boule with Japanese Clay Pot A Kitchen Blog” ended up being a fantastic post.

    If solely there were considerably more blogs similar to this
    specific one on the web. Well, thank you for your
    personal precious time, Bailey

  2. spree says:

    That is one gorgeous boule! Your “obsession” certainly has its rewards!

  3. Hi Spree, thanks for the compliment! It seems like my obsession with bread will never stop…Haha! Have a wonderful weekend :-)

  4. rheostat says:

    Yes! Finally something about ohm resistor symbol.

  5. Melissa says:

    Wow your boule looks fantastic! I just bought a new Donabe and want to try your recipe! I am wondering about how you prepared your donabe for baking…. Did you have to soak your pot in water before preheating it in the oven?

    • Hi Melissa,
      Sorry for the late response.
      I called the vender of my donabe pot and asked a lot of question before baking bread with it. I didn’t soak it in the water because my vender said I should’t do that for using it in the very hot oven. I recommend that you can ask the vender (or manufacturer) of your pot because the materials and purpose of each donabe pots are different.
      Hope it’ll be your help :-)

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