French for a bell-shaped woman's hat, cloche refers culinarily to an unglazed stoneware, bell-shaped cover used in baking bread. This baking cloche is soaked in water, then placed over the bread dough prior to baking. When heated, the water-soaked clay produces steam, which coats the dough and gives the finished bread a crackling good crust. Cloches, which are about 10 inches tall, are available in gourmet shops. An unglazed earthenware casserole dish can be substituted. See also cookware and bakeware materials.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.