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Baker's Couche


rob7
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I looked into purchasing a couche and have found them online for about $20. The more I looked at it the more it seemed that it was just a heavy piece of fabric that I may be able to get at a craft or fabric store for much less.

Do you know if this is the case? Online I've seen ones made from muslin, linen, and flax (linen essentially).

Has anyone bought their own fabric to use as a couche? If so, what did you buy and how has it worked? I know that the fabric needs to be unbleached. Is there a specific weight of fabric that is needed so that it can support loaves?

Also, does acouche need to be "seasoned" before using? if so, what is the process.

Thanks all for your input.

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I already got in trouble once for asking about the baker's couche, she said that was none of my business. :raz:

Seriously though, I've used muslin well dusted with flour to line cheap baskets to do that job and it worked fine. That was just for home use but I think I spent something like $10 or so for enough muslin and baskets to do 5 or 6 loaves at a time.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I looked into purchasing a couche and have found them online for about $20. The more I looked at it the more it seemed that it was just a heavy piece of fabric that I may be able to get at a craft or fabric store for much less.

Do you know if this is the case? Online I've seen ones made from muslin, linen, and flax (linen essentially).

Has anyone bought their own fabric to use as a couche? If so, what did you buy and how has it worked? I know that the fabric needs to be unbleached. Is there a specific weight of fabric that is needed so that it can support loaves?

Also, does acouche need to be "seasoned" before using? if so, what is the process.

Thanks all for your input.

In bread classes that I've taken, linen was always the "go-to" material for a couche. That being said, I've set aside several cotton terry cloth towels as my couches and have never once had a problem with them.

Whatever type of material you end up using, you need to season them periodically with flour. I essentially lay the towel flat on a surface, add some flour to the towel and then use the heel of my hand to push the flour into the fabric. Almost the same motion as if you were kneading dough with the palm of your hand. Work in as much flour as you can and you should be ready to go.

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Tri,

That made me laugh so hard I now have a headache.

Rob,

I second the linen recommendation - it's what we used at an artisan bakery where I worked once upon a time, and well-seasoned linen is a beautiful thing.

Patty

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I bought a couple of yards of really heavy linen from an art supply as I recall. Works like a charm. Also cut pieces and sewed them into baskets to make bannetons.

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I agree with using linen.

You can order linen canvas HERE.

This is a good source, nice people. You do have to order by phone.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Has anyone bought their own fabric to use as a couche? If so, what did you buy and how has it worked? I know that the fabric needs to be unbleached. Is there a specific weight of fabric that is needed so that it can support loaves?

Also, does acouche need to be "seasoned" before using? if so, what is the process.

Thanks all for your input.

I bought my couche fabric at an art supply store where they had unbleached linen on rolls. It was quite a bit cheaper than buying the French couche fabric that specialty stores sell. You can cut and sew the unbleached linen into any shape you need, such as round for boules.

I always use rice flour on my couches. With new couches, I rub the rice flour in as much as possible and then have a large soft paint brush on hand when I take the dough out of the couche. The brush does a good job of getting the excess flour off the bread. Whether to leave flour on or off the dough is a matter of esthetics.

After several rounds of rice flour, I no longer need to flour the couches for every dough. I would guess I flour about 4-6 times a year [i bake about a kilo of dough at a time several times a week in cooler weather].

What kind of bread are you making?

Linda

-------------------

"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it."

--- Henry David Thoreau

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I just received The Bread Baker's Apprentice and thus far have made two breads- Pain a l'Ancienne and Challah. Both breads have come out pretty good. I'm not trying to brag, but, they were definitley better than what can be bought at a typical grocery store around me. Next batch I'll have to remember to take some pictures before cutting in.

Not to get off topic- but, I think the most significant way in which this book has helped is providing weights and formulas for ingredients. Previously, going by cups, etc, I never had good results. I can tell that most of my doughs prior to this were dry and did not have enough water.

The bread that I want to make that started this topic is french bread baguette.

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I agree with using linen.

You can order linen canvas HERE.

This is a good source, nice people.  You do have to order by phone.

Thanks for the link....their prices are really good from what I've seen thus far.

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I bought my couche fabric at an art supply store where they had unbleached linen on rolls. It was quite a bit cheaper than buying the French couche fabric that specialty stores sell. You can cut and sew the unbleached linen into any shape you need, such as round for boules.

It is probably better to buy from an art store vs. a "fabric" store as many fabrics have been treated with chemical sizing (easier to cut patterns and sew). If you do buy from a fabric store, I would recommend washing with no soap before using, for surety sake. The art store fabric has no such sizing.

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One caveat in buying from an art supply store. Check the product carefully.

I am an artist and have purchased a lot of stuff from art supply stores, including linen canvas which I stretch and prepare for painting. I have gotten linen that had been stored too near other products and had a distinct aroma of linseed oil which persisted even after it had been coated with gesso, cured and sanded. I could find no evidence of oil actually on the linen, but the aroma lingered for a very long time.

Do the sniff test before you take it into the kitchen!

Furniture linen is available at upholstering supply stores and has to be "pure" and free from chemicals because often it is the base under extremely expensive silk brocades costing hundreds of dollars per yard.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Andiesenji, thanks again for the link, I ordered some linen canvas and some other items from the site you recommended yesterday. You are right, the person I got on the phone was extremely patient and helpful. Great resource to have...thanks again. After some more research, their prices were really good. No more expesive than getting linen canvas from a craft or art supply store.

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Andiesenji, thanks again for the link, I ordered some linen canvas and some other items from the site you recommended yesterday. You are right, the person I got on the phone was extremely patient and helpful. Great resource to have...thanks again. After some more research, their prices were really good. No more expesive than getting linen canvas from a craft or art supply store.

Also the proofing baskets they sell are half the price from most other places.

And, I like buying where it will benefit students that can use the help.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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  • 3 years later...

hello!

i found plenty of sources for baker's couche online, but i'd like to buy it in NYC if possible (and not from a fabric or craft store.)

does anyone know for certain of a place where it is stocked in NYC? I have done some preliminary calling around to the usual suspects, and struck out thus far. i don't know much about bread baking (this is for a gift) so i figured i'd ask the experts :)

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