The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need guidance in shaping...

herculeorama's picture

Need guidance in shaping...

I have seen quite an improvement in my baking after I started following the discussions here in this forum Thanks to all. I have a question though about shaping, say, a baguette or a similar shaped bread. Cylindrical-like. I have seen pictures where I can make out some sort of cloth which is used for resting the shaped dough. Like there are 3 or 4 small cylidrical loaves rested on a cloth and the cloth is folded between each loaf to maintain the shape and not allowing the dough to spread out and flatten. My question - is it a simple cotton cloth? Will not the dough stick to it and make it a mess when transferred to the oven? If not, how does one transfer each of the 3 or 4 loaves from this cloth on which they rest?

We don't get special baking equipments like a baguette pan where I stay(I am not in US).


davidg618's picture

is usually made of heavy linen, but a kitchen towel (tea towel) works too. Sprinkle a coating of flour on it and rub it in with your hand. Some people (including me) use white or brown rice flour, or a 50/50 mix of rice flour/all purpose flour. High hydration doughs sometimes stick if the couche isn't sufficiently floured, but low and medium hydrated doughs readily release.

Many bakers use a "flipping board" to transfer a loaf from the couche to the oven, or to a baking sheet. A flipping board is simply a light-weight rectangle around 20" long, by 4" to 6" wide, sometimes also covered with floured cloth. Examples are thin plywood, stiff cardboard, melamine. Some are covered with linen, others panty-hose material, some none (like mine made out of scrap masonboard). All are dusted with flour to prevent the loaves from sticking to the flipping board. You can also flip loaves directly onto a pizza peel if you use one. I also sometimes used the flipping board to gently reposition a loaf on a peel, or baking sheet. I've also used a flipping board to hold loaves while I slash them, and then loaded them directly onto a baking stone. It works, but I don't like it as well as using an intermediate peel (or the bottom of a baking sheet as a makeshift peel).

Loaves are usually placed in a couche seam side up (bottom up) and allowed to final proof. The fold inhibiting each loaf is flattened out, and the flipping board is laid along side the proofed loaf. The folds separating the loaves can serve as a "handle" to flip each loaf, in turn, onto the board.

There are threads discussing couches and flipping boards, most with pictures, here on TFL,  There are also videos on UTube showing bread handling, including couches and flipping boards. Many are from commercial bakers, but they will give you the general idea.

Use the "Search" box to look for relevant discussion threads.

David G

milwaukeecooking's picture

If you have an art supply store you can find materials for this process.  I use heavy canvas for the fabric and I purchased a linen covered canvas board to transfer my baguettes to a piece of parchment paper.  You want a very stiff piece of canvas and the triple woven kind works great.  It is inexpensive and useful for many other kitchen projects: making noodles.  When using the canvas for the first many times you will want to sprinkle a little bit of flour onto the side you are using and then rub it in with your hand. I have never had a problem with sticking and I have used some very wet doughs for this process.  

herculeorama's picture

Thanks a lot for the guidance. Will follow the ideas.


Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Can you mail order from the internet somewhere the baguette trays you require? Other wise using the cloth method is OK. It just leaves you with a flat bottom baguette from a normal baking tray. Who cares providing it taste good!!!


herculeorama's picture

I had considered the option but I have an electric oven(the one with mmicrowave also) and hence has a rotating plate. The baguette trays are quite long and in a very hot oven if I just went wrong by an inch in placing them dead center, it is highly likely that one of the ends is going to hit the sides of the oven and spoil the whole thing for me. Hence I would prefer a couche and roll them onto a round baking plate.