The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baker's couche

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dwg302's picture
dwg302

Baker's couche

hi,

i've ordered a baker's couche from KA and am wondering if anyone can give some pointers about transferring the loaf onto parchment paper after it has risen.    i'm assuming it rises with the seam side up and that you roll it onto the parchment paper in order to bake it.   but it sounds clumsy to do and would love any pointers or advice from people who do this alot and what works good for them.   thanks,

david

colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

I have a hard time with that also.  Getting the loaves onto the peel and then onto baking stone without deflating them can be difficult.

Colin 

RFMonaco's picture
RFMonaco

How about either lining the couche with the paper and just lifting it out, then placing the paper and dough on the peel.....or...

putting the paper over the couche and placing the peel on top then turn the couche and peel over gently while holding the peel and couche securely....?

staff of life's picture
staff of life

I've transferred a zillion of these, so here's how I do it:

When you place your loaves in the couche, make sure you have a large enough "ridge" between them.  You'll need it.  Also, when I have mine in the couche, the fabric is long enough that I can fold it back over to cover all the loaves.  I use a baking sheet with I believe a 1" lip around the edges as support/ease of moving around if needed.  When the loaves are ready, you want to pull the fabric covering your loaves off--the bottom of it will still be nestling your loaves.  I'm right-handed, so I orient my pan so I'm pulling the cloth to the right.  Then pull on this to make a small distance between the loaf that's on the farthest right and the loaf just to the left of it.  Take a small thin board (it should be long enough and wide enough to hold your loaf) place it just to the left of your loaf--touching is fine--and quickly, using the cloth, flip your loaf onto this board.  They do have baguette boards out there for this, but you can find something else less expensive that will also do the trick.  After your loaf is on the board, quickly slide it onto the parchment on your peel, slash and slide it into the oven.  Depending on the size of your peel, loaves, and/or oven, you might want to do the loaves one at a time or do multiples.  It helps to have the loaves in your couche either floured when they're still in the couche or have the skin slightly dry so they don't stick to your little board. 

 It sounds complicated, and I'm not great at explaining, but with practice, it can be done very quickly and easily. After a few flops, I never have any trouble anymore!

SOL

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

It sounds like a very easy solution - but I can't quite visualize it.  Any chance you can have someone take a brief video next time you do this?  I'm sure we'd all love to see it.

rcornwall's picture
rcornwall

I don't know how much commercially made couches cost, but I went down to a local fabric store and bought enough untreated canvas to make several large couches for under $10.00. Just a thought but its a good way to save a little money.

rcornwall

avatrx1's picture
avatrx1

could I ask you for more info on making a couche for bread baking?  I do sew, but I can't say that I've ever seen untreated canvas at the fabric store.  It is a heavyweight linen type fabric or heavy muslin?  I'd order one from the baker supply but the shipping is as much as the fabric and it really doesn't look like much more than a fabric square.


thanks,


Susie


ssarge@owc.net

proth5's picture
proth5

a couche is linen.  Linen is a fiber that has good "wicking" qualitites and since one of the functions of the couche is to draw moisture from the outer layer of the rising bread, linen is especially good for that. 


I would describe the linen in a couche as rather heavy and somewhat rough, although this varies.  There is really no sewing involved.  The linen is simply cut to size.  If you mind a little fraying, you could overcast the edges. 


My experience is that the proper type of linen is hard to find in your average fabric store and if you do find it, it will be expensive.  I've found linen similar to baker's linen at Britex Fabric in San Francisco (and it must be noted that I travel for a living, so forgive me if that sounds a bit exotic) but at a pretty high price - say $30+ a yard. They also do mail order - so you could ask for a certain type of linen and they will send you swatches and you can then choose based on the swatches and place an order.  It seems like an elaborate process for a couche, but you might be able to bundle that in with other fabrics if you enjoy sewing (Britex has amazing fabrics, if you like that sort of thing...)


I ordered the couche from King Arthur many years ago.  I chose to wash it, because I react badly to fabric sizing and sensed a bit of it in the fabric.  If I knew then what I know now, I would have ordered from TMB baking (www.tmbbaking.com).  Yes, there is shipping cost, but the price per yard is very reasonable, you are getting the right fabric, and if properly cared for, this is a once in a lifetime purchase.


I am one of those folks who can feel a fabric and tell the fiber content, so linen v.s. cotton is not only a functional issue for me, but an esthetic one.  Touching linen is so much more enjoyable for me than touching cotton.  So I enjoy my hobby a bit more by making that small extra investment. 


Hope this helps.

avatrx1's picture
avatrx1

THank you for the info.  I love linen.  I just bought some the other day to make a jacket and pants.  Next to the mix of linen and rayon for clothing - pure linen is my favorite.  you're right about the sizing.  almost all linens have that and once you wash it away - they acquire that really nice soft feel.


 


I have a dough board that is covered in what I've always thought was a thick linen.  Perhaps that is the same fabric.


 


typically I use parchment paper to transfer dough and that works well.  of course it doesn't have any wicking properties.  I'll have to check into the fabric you speak of.  We have a fabric store in a chicago suburb that has more fabric than any store I know of.  They supply other stores around the country.  They may have it.


 


thank you again.


Susie

proth5's picture
proth5

Your reply was a little confusing to me so I want to emphasize that a couche is used to hold free standing loaves during the final fermentation (proofing) - it isn't a means to transfer dough to the oven. 


Many people do the final fermentation on parchment paper so as to avoid disturbing the dough after it is proofed and to allow ease of transfer.  In that case a couche would not be used.


Good luck with finding the linen.  A large fabric store in a major metropolitain area should carry it. 

staff of life's picture
staff of life

Hi Kippercat--

I'm having major problems with my computer now, so it would take me forever on the web to find the video, but when Danielle Forestier (I think that's her name) was on Julia Child's show, she demonstrated this very flip.  I know other people have previously put the link up on the website, but I'm sure you could find it if you Googled it.  Danielle demonstrates making baguettes.  (It's the infamous 800 slaps on the counter video.)

My Home Depot has painter canvases that I use as couches.  They're soft and pliable enough to work well.  I think they're all cotton, but the cotton vs. linen release problem is non-existent if you use 1 part rice flour to 4 parts white flour to dust your cloths.

SOL

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Thanks.  I've made a note to find it later.  Now I have to get off my computer.

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

It's in the thread on shaping dough.  The big long link is for Danielle Forestier is

http://pbs-juliachild.onstreammedia.com/cgi-bin/visearch?user=pbs-juliachild&template=template.html&query=+ClipCategory%3ABreads+ClipCategory%3ABaked+ClipCategory%3AGoods&category=ClipCategory%3ABreads+ClipCategory%3ABaked+ClipCategory%3AGoods&ingredients=0&c&page=16

It didn't show properly on my Internet Explorer.  I had to switch to Firefox.  The couche transfer is 2/3 to 3/4 of the way into it.

Rosalie

colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

She pretty thoroughly degassed after the first fermentation, and then after the proofing, when she put them in the oven she got very good oven-spring.  Pretty good looking loaves.

Colin

 

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I do about the same method as staff of life wrote, it IS hard to describe in words, ha ha. In class we used a long flat board--at home I improvise, and sometimes just gently pick them up to move them, depending on how soft or overproofed the dough is.

The folds between loaves are crucial as they both provide support for rising AND if you gently pull them apart it gives you room to manouver for moving and loading them. If I'm lining a bowl or basket with a cloth, I usually let them rise seam side up, and just flip the loaf out onto the peel.

For long loaves, and if the recipe specifies it, I let them rise seam-side down. I could only find a halfway decent picture of ciabbatas rising--I have learned since then these actually turn out a little better when you rise them seam-down (I was trying out a bunch of recipes at the time). For ciabattas you just pick them up and transfer them, so this isn't the best example, but it does show how much of a fold I use...