The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Brotform pattern without a brotform!

mlucas's picture

Brotform pattern without a brotform!

I've always been a little sad that because I use a linen tea towel to line my baskets, very little (if any) of the pattern of the basket shows through in the flour on the finished loaf. (I do have one small round basket that looks very natural / foodsafe, so I have tried that one without a towel, with good results. But my other baskets kind of look like the wicker may be chemically treated, so I didn't want to try them.)

A little while ago I had an idea how to get the nice pattern without a brotform, and I finally remembered to try it in my last bake! The recipe was the ubiquitous Norwich Sourdough from Susan's Wild Yeast Blog.

My idea was to use a "ribbed" linen placemat to line the basket, instead of a tea towel. I have some natural (undyed, or at least appear so) placemats which have been through the wash several times, so I was pretty sure they were foodsafe. Here's a poorly-lit picture of the one I used:

I sprinkled some rice flour on the placemat first, before dusting with quite a lot of white (AP) flour. This worked very well, the loaf turned out cleanly after proofing, no sticking at all. And the resulting pattern on the loaf was great! Picture:

In the next picture you can see this loaf with its "dough-brothers", one of which was proofed in the aforementioned foodsafe basket, the other three in baskets/bowls lined with tea towels. I kind of like the variety!

dough brothers

(Note: the loaves have a bit of a golden color to them which I attribute to substituting some of the white flour in the recipe with kamut flour, which is an ancient relative of durum.)

Happy baking,


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And Great looking bread too!  Kamut makes great tasting bread, don't you think? 

008cats's picture

And all your loaves look great! I really like the "ribbed" texture grouped with the others - beautiful!

Paddyscake's picture

great results. Now just have to find those ribbed towels...

Noor13's picture

Ymmm-the breads look delicious 

Hmmm I have some Kamut sitting in my cupboard and didn't dare to use it so far for bread baking. I think I will I will have to give that a try.

salma's picture

Very creative, and great looking breads!  I have never used Kamut, have to try it sometime.


mlucas's picture

Thanks for the comments everyone!

Yes, I'm definitely impressed with Kamut so far, though I haven't made a real Kamut bread yet -- just substituted it for a small amount (like 10-15%) of the other flour.  I did once make the Spelt variation of "Quintessential French Sourdough" from Leader's Local Breads book, which turned out really nice although my kids didn't like the Spelt flavour so much. Maybe I will try his Kamut variation next!

For those interested, I had multiplied Susan's recipe by 1.5 to make the above loaves, so it called for 1350g of AP flour and 180g rye. I think I used about 200g kamut flour and 50g wheat germ*, leaving 1150g AP flour and 130g rye. I also used a bit more water, guessing that the kamut would absorb more water than the AP. (I think I should have used even more water, as the crumb was much less "open" than when I've stuck to the basic recipe.)

I gave away the star-stencilled loaf as a thank you, and got a lot of compliments on the flavour. I agree, the kamut definitely adds something!

*I almost always substitute 3-5% wheat germ (stored in the freezer) in white flour, a tip from Nancy Silverton's "Breads from the La Bread Bakery". It adds flavour and nutrition, without any trade-offs I can notice!

Here is my source for kamut flour:

Cheers and happy baking,

008cats's picture

Okay, that was misleading, but I am into "Enquirer" style subject lines these days. Depending on what I read, Kamut might have less gluten... would this account for the less open crumb?

Spelt and kamut are very interesting grains... I also like using them in conjunction with Red Fife - check it out if you see it in the store!


mlucas's picture

Yes actually I have some Red Fife -- isn't the flour variety at Bulk Barn great?! I have used it but never in a way that I could really gauge its flavor.  How have you used it before?