A couche is an arrangement of cloth for raising bread dough, usually baguette dough. It is formed by pleating canvas or kitchen towels so the pleats can serve as resting places for the dough. Obviously the fabric must either be heavily floured or lined with parchment paper.
Bread usually does best when it is baked on the oven floor or on tiles, so a couche is a way to allow dough to rise without pans. The baker can then transfer the doughs to the oven using a bakers peel.
Here’s are two pictures of a couch in use. The first one is a normal couche, formed by raising the canvas so it forms ridges. The second is a super couche, formed by laying the canvas between two dowels. The dowels are supported on their ends by something high enough to allow the canvas to form a trough. I use small pieces of 2×4 for the supports. Either way, this is a neat way to raise bread dough.
Here are three shots of some baguettes in a more normal couche.
|First loaf in the couche. Notice how the canvas has been shaped to have folds. These folds support the sides of the loaves.|
|All four rising. This process leaves a fine film of flour all over the area.|
|Finished baking. 30 minutes at 440 F / 225 C with steam.|
|The baguettes again, with my version of a George Greenstein Challah in the foreground.|