The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

clean couche

  • Pin It
MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

clean couche

I know the couche is not supposed to be washed, but how can it be cleaned ? After resting some ciabatta on it there are some stuborn stains. I am afraid mold will form around the dried dough cought on the couche... 

Thanks.

proth5's picture
proth5

Here are some tips for keeping your couche clean.

1. You can use a metal bench scraper to scrape down the couche.  Yes, that's what it sounds like - put the couche on a flat surface and scrape it down (like you would your bench) with the bench scraper.  This does put some wear on the couche, but you will be amazed how clean it will get.  If this scares you, you can brush it down with a stiff brush - but it will not get as clean.

2. Always hang the couche to dry.  When it is thoroughly dry, roll it (don't fold it) and store in a well ventilated place.  Couches can mold if they are not properly dried and stored.  A moldy couche is a nasty thing.

3. I'm not sure about the nature of your "stubborn stains" - you should put only lean (that is not containing fats) doughs on a linen couche.  I'll check back if you want to explain the nature of these stubborn stains.

4. If you really can't stand it anymore, you can wash the couche.  If it is woven linen it will be fine at a very high water temperature.  You want to make sure it is thoroughly rinsed (run it through the washer cycle once with detergent and once without...).  It can be line or machine dried.  But here's the thing.  If you wash linen it will (according to "my teacher") "lose its memory" become "all chaotic".  I call this "wrinkled" (This is the natural reaction of linen to being washed and dried.  No, it will not shrink.) and if it only the matter of one couche, you can restore its smooth appearance by ironing it.  Iron it while still quite damp and iron both sides.  It may ravel in the wash - this can simply be trimmed off and the thing is as good as new.  This is really only a last resort.  You should care for your couche in such a way that stains do not appear and you should "never" need to wash it.

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

by "stain" I only refer to dry dough. but because the ciabatta dough is so wet it managed to create quite big patches o dry dough... 

proth5's picture
proth5

Then a good scrape with a bench scraper will clear that right up.  No need to wash.

Hope this helps.

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

I did that, but the couche still has some hardened patches. Maybe I should go harder with the scrape... or maybe I'll get a brush... 

thanks.

proth5's picture
proth5

"good scraping" it is with some force with a metal bench scraper.  It is a little scary the first time you do it right.  Putting the couche on a flat surface is key.  Get a buddy to hold down the end while you scrape.

If you really have big patches of dried dough (and you shouldn't you know, on a regular basis - if you get stickage, you need to pay more attention to the flour on the couche) you may wish to kind of crumble up the dried dough with your fingers so the pieces are smaller and sticking up and down as it were and more easily scraped off.  You know - the old rub it between your fingers dealy.

Really, the scraping should do it though.  I've seen miracles...

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

i am using half half white flour and rice flour so i guess i just didnt add enough... or maybe the ciabatta is too wet for couche....

speaking of rice flour... on the forum people mentioned that rice flour is a bit more coarse ... mine is really really fine... 

proth5's picture
proth5

doesn't really apply - I live in a very dry climate - have floured my couche once and nothing sticks.  But you may want to flour more liberally.

One tip I do have for when things stick is to let gravity do the work for you.  Hold the stuck loaf upside down  so that gravity will pull it away from the couche.  Usually the loaf comes off clean (be patient) better with this method rather than using your fingers to try and pull the dough off.  I know that this isn't traditional ciabatta handling technique, but if the thing is stuck, might be worth a try.

Good luck!

vtsteve's picture
vtsteve

Hamelman says to proof ciabatta "on bread boards that are thoroughly (but not too thickly) covered with sifted bread flour."

tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

Not sure how much dough you're talking about, but I had a 'doughsaster' about a month ago when my ovens got backed up and I let a batch of sourdough proof much too long on a under-floured couche with room temps pushing 90F and high humidity. I've scraped and scraped, but there is still dried dough, so I just flipped the couche and started using the other side. 

judsonsmith's picture
judsonsmith

Proth5's advice is solid- I think scraping and hanging to dry is pretty common in production baking settings. You might need to sharpen your dough knife or use more force. When our couche get bad enough scraping them all can be a workout and wearing a dust mask isn't a bad idea either.

-Jud

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

I tried. Using my metal dough scraper seams to damage the cloth but not remove much of the dry dough. I figure that if I continue I will end up with a clean couche but with some holes in it. I even bought a rough brush and tried. Didn’t do much good either.

So, despite all advices on this page - for which I am gratefull - and after reading a lot of other forums, I decided to give it a wash.

Washing machine 1h cycle with hot water. Spin at half speed.  When all was done it looked quite bad. Extremly wrinkled!  I was worried. Still, I immediately gave a super hot ironing and hang it to dry. When it was almost dry I pulled - hard! - from all sides (length and width) which seamed to worke very well... Almost back to being straight. Once it was completely dry, one more hot - with steam - ironing..... and... and... looks almost like new. I can still see the wrinkles as white lines on the couche, but that’s fine. The texture of the fabric feels slightly softer but I guess that’s ok.  I’ll flour it and probably will be fine. One thing I will avoid to put on it: chiabatta.

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

sets the gluten and makes it even harder to remove.  Hot water is fine after the flour is completely removed but if hot water is used for sterilizing, remember steaming with a hot iron can do that too or a vinegar rinse.  Best results come with cold soapy water. Rinse well or final optional vinegar rinse.  Hang up wet (or roll in a dry towel) and drip dry.  Iron before completely dry.  

proth5's picture
proth5

gets softer with each washing, but all of my couches have been washed at least once (because even when they are treated with "all natural" sizing there is something on them that causes me to react badly to them) and I find no problems.

Any heavy linen can look pretty sorry after washing.  I am used to this, so I'm sorry I didn't warn you.  The trick is to iron when damp - not when soaking wet.  Actually, I didn't iron mine at all, just threw them in the dryer and they were fine...

Good luck!