The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Skin forming when proofing using a brotform

shauni_g's picture

Skin forming when proofing using a brotform

Hi all,

Just got back from holiday and was lucky enough to find a small town bakery that was selling brotforms so got myself one as a holiday treat. Tried it out for the first time over the weekend and encountered a couple of issues that I thought people here might be able to advise about:

1. When I removed the dough from the brotform after proofing it had formed a skin around it which, apart from any other negative effects it may have had, made it difficult to score properly. I only covered the top of the brotform with a linen cloth whilst proofing so I am wondering if I put the whole thing inside a food-grade plastic bag next time if it might keep it hydrated better and prevent a skin from forming?

2. On removing the dough from the brotform to the baking tray the dough didn't hold it's shape: it started spreading outwards. It was a pain de campagne dough so it wasn't really that wet. My thoughts were that I was either too rough plopping it out of the brotform onto the tray or that perhaps I hadn't created enough surface tension when I was forming the dough into a boule.

As you can see I have my own ideas as to what caused these problems but I am interested to hear from you all to see if anyone can confirm or deny my thoughts or provide some suggestions of their own.

Thanks in advance,


jcking's picture


What I Do. (WID) #1. Use a very large inverted bowl, with the inside spritzed with water, to cover the brotform.

#2. Place a piece of parchment paper over the brotform. Then place a pizza peel (or other flat surface item, baking sheet) on the parch and gently turn the whole thing over. Leave the parchment in place and trim to size of loaf. Then slide loaf with parchment into steamed oven. After 15 minutes remove parchment and continue to bake.


lumos's picture

Plastic shower caps (cheap, disposal one is fine, like the ones you get free in  your hotel bathroom) works very well as a cover for both banetton/brotforms and a bowl of dough. It can fit various sizes and shapes of containers and you can use it again and again.

proth5's picture

...ok, I've seen this tip many times.  "Use the shower caps that you get for free in your hotel room" to cover dough.  While I understand the utility, I live in hotels (highest elite level with two pretty respectable hotel chains) and I haven't seen a shower cap in my hotel room in years.

You can purchase similar toppers in grocery stores and on the interweb.  I don't know if the cost of these is greater than the incremental cost to stay in a classier hotel or not. I particularly favor the vinyl bowl toppers that are sold at The Vermont Country Store.  They have done yeoman's work for me and come in a range of sizes.

Not to dispute a good tip, but, really, I think the free shower cap may have gone the way of the dodo.


lumos's picture

Hmmm.... the last time I stayed in a hotel was during a short break in Belgium earlier this year and I managed to add a new stock of freebee shower caps there. But I must admit it seems less and less number of hotels provide those baking essentials (for me, anyway) in their bath room than before. Though here in UK and possibly in some European hotels, you can still get them in some hotels.....though, while they used to give you a new one every day  if you use the first one before, it seems you can only get one during your stay these days. Maybe a sure reminder that we're in the worst recession for several decades....or hotels using 'environmentally friendly policy' to cut their cost? ;)

But yes, you're right, you can buy those in shops, too, and they're quite cheap anyway. In UK where I am, I stock them up whenever either Boots or Superdrugs have 'Get 3 for the price of 2' (or that sorts) promotion on shower caps.

Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

Just got back from two weeks in Italy and every hotel we stayed in (all pretty nice ones) had them in the bathrooms.  

proth5's picture

Well the disappearance seems to be a US phenomenon.  We'll see how long it takes for that contagion to cross the Atlantic...

Janknitz's picture

Sells 12 plastic shower caps for $1.  MUCH cheaper than an overnight in a fancy hotel (but not nearly as much fun!). 

lumos's picture

....suddenly my usual pack of 3 shower caps for 1-99 pounds (well over $3) from Superdrug looks like a luxury item....

richkaimd's picture

...that you tried to score the skin side of your brotform-risen loaf.  Did you?  I've always scored the skinless side of the risen loaf, the one that is up when you turn the loaf out of the brotform by turning it over onto the peel. 

Also, thanks for offering the opportunity for all those folks to talk about hotels and their bathroom gifts.

GregS's picture

Search on "shower caps" on eBay and you'll be inundated (pun intended). The first listing is 100 for $1. Maybe you can become wealthy by reselling them to needy bakers.


shauni_g's picture

Sorry, I wasn't clear enough in my original post: don't worry I'm not trying to score the "bottom" of the risen-loaf. The side that ended up with a skin on it, despite what you would expect, was the "top" of the loaf, eg the side that is touching the brotform. That is what I found so strange about it.

PS To add to the showercap discussion, every place we stayed during the holiday I just got back from had free showercaps so Australia hasn't done away with them yet!

hanseata's picture

is the secret to prevent a skin. I flour my brotformen generously (I use bread flour, others here use a mixture of rice and AP flours), and, also, the exposed surface of the dough. Then I cover the form with plastic or a towel. This works even with 8 hour rises - but only at room temperature.

If you intend to retard a bread in the brotform in the refrigerator overnight, the danger of drying is much higher - then you have to place the whole thing in a plastic bag.