The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Using a couche

avatrx1's picture

Using a couche

I don't use any type of "couche" for shaping my breads but I'd like to try.  My question is this?

When shaping a baguette in one of these, what prevents it from losing it's shape when moved from the cloth to the baking stone?

My doughs always seem to lose their shape.  I could add more flour, but then I'd lose the texture I'm trying for.


Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

I have to say I've never used a couche for a really wet dough like a Ciabatta.  For these kinds of breads I prefer to let the dough proof on parchment paper that eventually goes from there directly onto the baking stone.  I normally just use the couche for my baguettes, and even though they are usually of a pretty high hydration I don't seem to have a problem if I have managed to shape them properly.

avatrx1's picture

My technique must be lacking.  I can get something long, but they just don't come out the way I'd like.

Maybe I should try using the roaster cover over them to get more oven spring in the first part of baking?

I wonder if it matters what you put over the top as long as it covers the loaves?  Someone suggested misting the inside of the roaster cover first and then putting it over the top, but if I preheat it first I'm not sure how I'd do that with success.  A mist would most likely evaporate before I got the cover back over the loaves.


BreadintheBone's picture

This may sound like a silly question, but how are you shaping the loaf? Do you push the dough into a flat oval on the counter, then fold one-third over, press the edge down, then fold the other side over, press down and roll? Even round loaves should be shaped and the tightened into a ball; this gives the dough enough internal structure to hold a shape (sort of.)

If you do the no-knead dough, you mostly have to trust to oven spring, which works pretty well.

avatrx1's picture

this gives the dough enough internal structure to hold a shape (sort of.)

The term "sort of" is an understatement.  Just when I think I have  a great shape, as I watch it rise it always goes out more than up.

I"ve been doing more "folding" than before and that seems to help, but perhaps not enough?

I get great shapes when I use the dutch oven method, but I'd like to be able to do it in a shape other than round, although I do have an oblong dutch oven that I used recently and that worked pretty well.


Elagins's picture

If you're using well-floured linen, you shouldn't have a problem, as long as you've either kneaded or folded the dough well during fermentation to ensure that the gluten develops properly. Linen couches generally don't stick; cotton, on the other hand, is notoriously sticky, especially for slack doughs.

As far as transfer, you need to use a flipping board. If you put the baguettes (or batards) into the couche seam side up, you can then flip them onto a floured, square-edged peel or an oblong piece of plywood or some such and then slide it onto your stone.


Hope this helps,  Stan Ginsberg