The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

turning drop cloth into a couche

sergio83's picture
sergio83

turning drop cloth into a couche

Hi everyone,


I mentioned it in my blog but I thought I'd post it here too.  I bought a canvas drop cloth at the hardware store.  it says it's heavy duty, tight cotton weave; absorbent; washable and reusable.



See?  Okay, so it's rather blurry and sideways.


Here's as good a closeup as I can get of the weave:



It's still in the plastic in case i need to return it.


So, is it worth trying with this stuff or is it all wrong?


Meanwhile, from what i've gathered, I'm supposed to wash it (with bleach?) and then rub flour into it?  Is that all?


Thanks everyone!


Sergio

Yumarma's picture
Yumarma

I bought a canvas drop cloth at the local Orange Box, sliced out a length, threw it in the wash (to get any sizing and extra fluff off) dried and sewed up the raw edges (after it had shrunk). No bleach required, just normal washing.


Works wonders and I still have a huge drop cloth left for painting. 


To prep it for couche work, I have a mix of 50% AP flour and 50% rice flour that I rub into the cloth before each use. Some people use straight up rice flour, others just the AP. The rice flour is like couche teflon, though. I bought about a pound of the stuff but still have a lot so if you can get it from a bulk store, just get a cup or two, will be plenty for a long time.


So rub a very healthy amount of the flour mix into the fibres and you're set to go. I have a couple of 2" x 2" pine sticks I've cut to fit inside a baking pan which are used to support the outside loaves.

sergio83's picture
sergio83

That's just what I needed. uy, i'm such a dork-- I seriously considered typing "kneaded" instead /:

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

just make sure it is untreated canvas, as you dont want chemicals in your bread!

sergio83's picture
sergio83

;) Is there some way of knowing if there are chemicals-- it doesn't say on the packaging.

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

untreated on the package, im more partial to going to your local fabric store and buying untreated linen cloth...its what i did.

wally's picture
wally

is right on target.  Before I got a piece of real linen couche I used a painters drop cloth I purchased at Home Depot.  Wash once to remove sizing and any chemicals - but only once!  Then rub in flour and rice flour before use.  Remember to clean it ocassionally with a brush to get excess flour off.  It's that simple.

sergio83's picture
sergio83

Thanks, I'll put it in the wash right now-- guess it's time to take the plunge!


sergio

fastmail98's picture
fastmail98

Got mine from Home Depot today. I'll wash it out and cut it up tomorrow. Why make a big deal over basic stuff? This is where 'home made' is at it's best: using around the house, everyday things for baking...no need to get expensive, snobbish tools for something my Grandmother used to do all of the time :)

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Some of it is snobbish, but some of it is safety. I could get a $5 bucket at home depot to store flour, but it's not food grade plastic. Do I want to risk that?

Would I want to risk a possibly chemically treated tarp? Or a homemade baking vessel intended to hold soil and flowers?

Part of the reason a lot of us bake our own breads is to know what's going in our bodies, to make our foods more wholesome, but that purpose is defeated if we make shortcuts that could contaminate the food with even worse things than we wouldnencounter at the grocery store.

fastmail98's picture
fastmail98

I agree with you about food grade materials and sanitation. What I was actually referring to is the use of expensive, imported proofing baskets when a glass bowl with a cloth proofing liner will do...that type of thing. I'm a gadget and tool hound myself. Danish dough wisk, baking stone, digital thermometer, scale, etc. For me there are lines between quality,necessity, and luxury. Simplisity and practicality is what I use to guide me here as I'm sure it does you as well. Peace and Good Risings to you!

sergio83's picture
sergio83

Well, i've been using it for a while and in spite of my absence, (it's an especially hot and humid florida summer so no baking for now) i'm still alive-- also, in spite of having used the hardware store drop cloth i'm still alive :p  Actually, I called the office of the company who makes the cloth and they said it was safe to use for handling food, if that's any comfort to anyone.