Le Couronne, or the loaf with the hole

I got really excited when Patrick from Bakery Bits, tweeted to say he had a new banneton in stock in a couronne, or ring shape. It was in cane, which I’ve never used before (all my bannetons are wicker and lined in linen).

I’ve a healthy collection of bannetons that I’ve built up over the last year, but in baton and round shapes. I really fancied a couronne shaped one. (I’ve been obsessed with round bread with a hole in it since my purchase of a Tortana from Flour City.)

So I bought one, and also took the opportunity to replenish my Aroma Panettone, which immediately transports me back to my childhood (you seen that scene in Ratatouille where whathisface the restaurant critic, goes back in time to his mother’s kitchen? That’s what this does to me).

Anyway, I was EXCITED about it. Made a batch of my every day bread, put it into the fridge for a retarded proof and got up in the morning.

First thing: the dough stuck to the banneton (the middle bit is wood). Not a good start. I slashed and cooked it and the hole completely closed up so that I ended up with a round loaf with a tiny dimple.

Not good.

I emailed Patrick. He recommended rice flour to aid non-stick (I had used rye). That remedied the sticking situation, but I just couldn’t get the hole to keep. (Sadly no pictures of bread proved in this banneton as I just never had a camera handy.)

When you cook bread, you want it to rise, but you can’t choose where it rises, so any hole you make (like in bagels) has to be bigger than you want it to end up with. But I just couldn’t get the hole to stay.

I knew the fabulous (and far more experienced baker than I) Joanna from Zeb Bakes had also bought one, so I asked her what she thought. She was also struggling with it. We both thought the middle bit should be thicker.

Patrick was v.helpful and kept going back to the manufacturers who said it should work. But it didn’t. Patrick got another banneton in, this time in linen lined wicker. He sent it to me free of charge. This banneton just looked much better, the middle bit was thicker and the whole shape was more promising.

It worked much better, too. Here is the loaf I made that first time. I did however, enlarge the hole once it was on the baking tray, which isn’t for the nervous. I haven’t fully got the hang of slashing the dough however (any thoughts anyone?) as I find it quite hard to make slashes on such a small ring of dough, such as it is before it puffs up.

First loaf using linen-lined wicker couronne banneton. V.nice.
Second loaf in the couronne, this was a white dough

Second time I made a white loaf but was more gung-ho didn’t enlarge the hole on the tray. This is what happened:

Hmm.

The third time I tried sticking a muffin ring in the middle. This did indeed hold the middle open, but a) the middle didn’t crust up properly and b) the ring sort of got swallowed into the bread. It was fine, and a really great loaf. I’m going to carry on experimenting with a tin in the middle and maybe even – gasp – put ice cubes in there. Just till the bread has developed a crust and then remove the tin.

In the meantime, if you’re careful you can get a really nice ring shape, but you need to play around with the dough on the tray. I do love the couronne bread shape however as you get maximum crust, not great for children who are fussy about these things, but good for me, who does.

Any more experienced bakers out there with any tips, I’d welcome them. Grazie!

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5 thoughts on “Le Couronne, or the loaf with the hole

  1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

    Have a go at making the couronne bordelaise next time, it's not as difficult as it looks and the shaping keeps the centre open and, for a bonus, you get a slash effect without slashing. You can use any dough you like… 🙂

    Reply
  2. Annalisa Barbieri

    Hello Joanna, I am going to have a go at your lovely couronne bourdelaise; I'm building up courage…I've actually made some very nice couronnes now so am getting into the swing of it. The bourdelaise you made looks spectacular though!

    Reply
  3. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

    How are you at rolling little balls of dough? There's a funny knack to it – wish I could show you as it's a lot easier to show than put in words. If you cup your hand like a cage over the roughly formed ball and then draw your fingers up so your hand forms a sort of arched V while rotating your hand, you will feel the ball spin the other way under your hand. It's quite exciting. Well, that's one way of doing it. Make sure you have a bit of tacky contact with the work surface, too much flour and the ball will spin and you won't get surface tension. Does that make any sense at all? xx

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Dan Lepard’s raisin (and perhaps cinnamon) bread | Pane Amore e Cha Cha Cha

  5. Pingback: Dan Lepard’s raisin (and perhaps cinnamon) bread | Pane Amore e Cha Cha Cha

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