First Post.. Hello!


Hi There,


I wanted to introduce myself. People call me the Bearded Chef and I currently cook and reside in Boston MA. For a while I was a food critic, but then joined Le Cordon Bleu Boston and will have my associates in Culinary Arts in about 3 months.


I have a huge interest and respect in artisan cookery. Anything that is old school, labor intensive and simple is what I love. Sourdough and artisan breads happens to be one of my fascinations :)


My sourdough culture is now about 30 days old, being born in my kitchen of where I work.


The flavors of the finished bread are wonderful, and I can't be happier. The only thing I can't figure out is how to get my bread that perfect round shape, as well as doing different designs in the flour. I understand that there are different bread baskets that the dough is placed in that creates perfectly round and patterned breads. Would the flour be left on the bread while baking instead of being sprayed? How would you get all those nice patterns within the flour? Do you simply wet a brush and wet the areas where you would like designs in the flour?


Anyways, very soon, I hope to post pictures of myself and the breads and starters I have created, and others that I am about to...


Glad to be here!

154 users have voted.


Ruralidle 2011 February 8

Hello TBC

Welcome to the forum. I am sure that you will find a lot of useful information and helpful people here.  Sourdough is a passion for most of us here and there is a great variety of breads and techniques that you can learn.

 As for patterns on the breads, some are the result of final proofing in hard bannetons or proofing baskets but the majority of patterns are created by slashing the dough using a sharp knife - usually a razor blade in a holder called a lame.  Proofing baskets are generally of two types, hard unlined material that tend to produce parallel lines around the dough as it proofs or linen lined (hard baskets or wicker ones) that produce a a smooth surface to the dough.  Both have to be floured to prevent the dough sticking to the basket or its lining.

 Generally, artisan bread is not sprayed with water but steam is created in the oven as the dough is put in to bake.  This humidity keeps the crust for hardeing before the loaf has risen (referred to as oven spring).

 As for shaping your dough, have a look at these videos also look at and and you should have a good idea how to achieve what you are after.

 Hope this helps


mlucas 2011 February 9

Welcome Bearded Chef,


You may also sometimes see pictures of bread with really fancy patterns, like words or chinese characters. These are called stencils and you can create your own using cardstock. Just before putting the loaf into the oven you spray it with water, place the stencil on, and dust with flour to create the pattern. (if you use too much flour, don't worry, you can blow or brush it off after baking) Sometimes it's tricky to get the stencil off because it sticks, so watch out for that.


Note you can do proper stencils (so that the flour makes the actual shapes or letters) or reverse stencils (so the flour goes around the shapes). Reverse stencils are easier to cut out, and look just as good in my opinion. Here are some pictures of my "hope" reverse stencil (just individual letters cut from cardstock).


Happy baking,


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