Since recently I am enjoying the use of bakers linen for breadbaking very much. I like it even more than my bannetons (proofing baskets). Why? Because it is easy to work with, the dough never sticks to it nor does it dry out and it is space efficient. Yes, this is not how it though about bakers linen before and that has everything to do with how one treats the linen. Because I wish everyone joy in their bread baking, I will explain how I treat my bakers linen in a way that allows me to keep enjoying it.
Let me start by explaining why I didn’t like it before: in the past I have baked in several bakeries where the use of bakers linen resulted in ill-flavored bread. Remnants of old flour that persisted in the linen ended up on the outside of the bread (not properly cleaning bannetons after use has the same effect!). While probably not everyone is familiar with the taste of flour gone bad, I am, and I don’t like when bread tastes like it. Besides resulting in ill-flavored bread, remnants of old flour in bakers linen have another effects: attraction of insects and deterioration of the linen itself. I don’t like insect in my kitchen and I don’t like my linen to deteriorate.
I you, like me, do not fancy insects in your kitchen, ill-flavored bread and deteriorating linen, keep on reading. You don’t have to read much further because the solution is simple: keep your linen clean. Cleaning it is pretty simple but the difficulty is maintaining a smooth texture after washing.
I started washing (no soap!) it in the laundry machine at ~ 40°C/105F, and then drying in the tumble dryer with anti-wrinkle program. This did not turn out to be a great success because I had to iron over 30 minutes to get it back in shape (it wrinkled like crazy).
So, what’s the solution? Wash it in cold water (machine is fine, no soap), light centrifuge, don’t tumble dry and iron for about 10 mins (hottest/linen setting).