​How to Use a Bread Couche & Lame

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Are you new to bread making? Are you trying to wrap your head around all of the different products that are out there and trying to figure out what you need and why? Well, today we are going to talk about two of our favorite bread making tools and why you need them.

If you are trying to figure out what the bread couche and lame are and wondering how on earth to use them, you are not alone! They may have interesting names, but they are great tools that make your bread making more successful! We will give you a little lesson on how to use them here.

How to Use a Bread Couche & Lame

What is a bread couche?

A bread couche (pronounced KOOSH) is a natural, unbleached and untreated linen. This linen is used to support bread dough (specifically French Baguette Dough), during the proofing phase. This linen, while light is quite durable and is the best for proofing bread.

To use the couche, you place the dough between the folds of the linen. This maintains the shape of the baguette, while also absorbing the moisture from the loaf. The wicking property of this material pulls the moisture from the surface of the dough without drying it out.

This helps the bread to maintain its chewy texture inside while preventing the loaves from sticking together as they expand while they bake.

An authentic couche like the one we sell here at Sassafras® is important in baking the perfect baguette, but beware of lower quality, cheap versions. These are often not made with the correct materials, which means that they simply don’t work the same.

How to use a bread couche

Using your couche properly is important in making the best baguette. Here are a couple of steps that need to be followed for a successful baking session:

  • Fold the couche several times while creating the wavy shape. It needs to be thick enough to hold stand on its own and keep its shape.
  • Before each use, be sure to flour the couche evenly, but lightly.
  • Shape baguette dough and place into the folds.
  • Cover and let rise.
  • Once ready, transfer dough to your baguette baker.
  • After the dough has been removed from the couche, brush off any excess flour and air dry.

Caring for your bread couche

Again, after use, brush off any excess flour. If there is dough stuck, let it dry and brush that off as well, without using too much force. Never wash the couche with water as it will wash away the floury surface which helps to make the loaf’s crust.

Storing your bread couche

Since you can’t wash it, I know you are probably wondering how to store it to keep it ready for its next use. That’s easy. Seal it up tightly in a ziploc bag and store it in the freezer.

If you are ready to try your first baguette, bake with a bread couche from Sassafras®.

The Bread Lame

What is a bread lame (pronounced LAHM)?

When bread is baking, it expands. Because of this expansion, is imperative to slash the dough to allow this expansion while keeping the loaf’s shape and preventing the bread’s crust from tearing during the baking process.

To slash the dough, you need to use a bread lame. A lame is a multi-bladed tool used for scoring the dough right before the dough is placed in the oven.

How to use a bread lame

Spray the lame with oil first before scoring the dough. Next, it’s time to score the dough in the direction in which the bread expands. Be sure to rinse the lame under warm water after each slash.

Scoring the bread allows the baker to control where the bread will “bloom.” Scoring also allows the baker to design the loaf to their liking, even creating “art” if they choose. I have seen some beautifully loaves of bread that bakers have designed artistically with a lame.

A simple knife will not work the same as a lame, so if you are ready to try out a bread lame to make the perfect loaf of bread, we have a great bread lame here at Sassafras®.