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I recently bought a ceramic slow cooker insert at a thrift store. It has a glass top and is the perfect shape for using as a Dutch oven in baking bread, which I do regularly. When I got home, my husband found a hairline crack going down the side. I’d like to know if this is still usable. Here’s the method I currently use with my cast iron/enamel coated Dutch oven: I preheat the oven to 500F with empty Dutch oven, with the lid on. When it’s reaches temperature, I take my shaped dough from the fridge where it’s been all night in a bowl on parchment paper. I slash it, then lift it by the parchment paper and place it in the Dutch oven. Sometimes I slip some ice cubes under the parchment before putting the lid on, although I could skip this step if it’s not recommended.

Question: would this procedure be ok for the Dutch oven described above, with the hairline crack?

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    Ceramic inserts for slow cookers are not dutch ovens, I would really hesitate to use them as such.
    – GdD
    Sep 8 at 17:23
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    Agree with @GdD, also, (a) I have found the ice/water/additional steam is not necessary when using a Dutch oven and lid, and (b) a dramatic temperature change created by the ice could be problematic given the hairline crack.
    – moscafj
    Sep 8 at 17:26
  • I'm not sure why the ceramic insert and glass top wouldn't be considered a Dutch oven. As for ice, I find it helps as a rule; I think it depends if there is leakage or not. For your comment b), as I said I'm willing to forego the ice if that's a problem for the crack. My question stands about whether or not to use it as described with the hairline crack (forgetting about the ice).
    – Arlo
    Sep 9 at 2:29
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I would not use it for this purpose.

Your main issue with using ceramic bread cloches (the standard ceramic "Dutch oven") with the kind of recipe you have is thermal shock: you're heating the vessel to 500F, then depositing a mass of very wet cold dough inside it. This can often result in a cloche cracking. This is why cloche manufacturers direct the owner to heat the cloche with the dough in it.

In your case, you're taking a vessel that was never meant for temperatures above 220F, which already has a crack in it, and preforming that routine. I'd fully expect it to crack in half as soon as you introduce the dough.

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  • I've taken your advice and am getting rid of the cracked ceramic insert. I agree that it's risky. I will say though that I often used an unglazed clay baker, preheated, in which I put a refrigerated dough BUT the parchment it's on is room temperature. The final proof is done in the fridge but not on parchment paper; I flip it onto the parchment once out of the fridge. I've never had a problem with thermal shock. Maybe it's just luck!
    – Arlo
    Sep 11 at 2:47
  • Arlo: you've been doing it in metal, which is much better than ceramic at tolerating temperature differences.
    – FuzzyChef
    Sep 11 at 3:54

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