The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Using a couche at home

Ashes123's picture
Ashes123

Using a couche at home

Hello,

I used to work in a bakery where most of the bread proofed on couches. The couches would line wooden boards and go on racks.

I am thinking to buy a couche or two for at home use, but my question is what would I use in replace of the board? Does a sheet pan work or is there another way?

Thanks in advance!

foodforthought's picture
foodforthought

I just use a 1/2 sheet pan. Only complaint is standard couche extends well beyond pan edges in all directions, so some unavoidable flour mess. Not sure how bakeries handle this, but I generally shake excess flour off (in garden) after each use and hang to air dry for at least 24 hours. Drying avoids moldy couche since I store the floury beast in a ziplock.

Cheers,

Phil

Ashes123's picture
Ashes123

Do you do this with high hydration doughs? If so, what is the difficulty level of transferring the dough past the sheet pan "lip"?

foodforthought's picture
foodforthought

Provided I have floured the couche well—as I learned to do with a pastry brush back in the bad old days—I can generally move an ~800 g batard from couche to peel with hands or with the wine crate board I use as a transfer peel. Then there’s always the roll it from couche to peel method which I find awkward, especially if I am proofing multiple pieces on the couche. In truth, I have found that I get such great oven spring from 70-80% hydration doughs based roughly on dmsnyder’s San Joaquin Sourdough, that I can reduce handling by doing final proof on semolina-sprinkled parchment directly on the  peel. I should probably also mention that my doughs tend to include a poolish (~25% of total flour) in addition to levain (~10%of total flour) wiith whole grain flours (5-20% of total flour).

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

TMB Baking in South San Francisco used to sell proofing boards. That's where I bought mine. I generally use just one at a time, as a home baker. No need (or room) for a speed rack. 

David

foodforthought's picture
foodforthought

Looks like they still do. OK prices on bannetons, too.

David, many, many thanks for your copious notes and well-documented process thoughts. I have learned much from you. SJ Sourdough, Bouabsa and Gosselin a few of my favorites.

Phil

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

For your kind words. I am happy to have helped other bakers.

David