Learning or creating new bread shapes has always been great fun for me. Yes, my goal is to always bake bread with a seductive aroma, flavor and texture, but as someone obsessed with trying to bake the best possible bread that I can at home, visual appeal is also a big part of the story.
I’ve always been intrigued by the shape known as a couronne, or crown. To produce this shape classically requires a specialized proofing basket , which can be fairly expensive to acquire. I decided to see if I could come up with a way of producing something similar to a couronne without the expensive hardware. What evolved were two methods of producing a smaller version of the couronne. But what to name this new shape? After a brief consultation with Janedo, our resident French bread connoisseur over at …Au Levain!, we came up with diadème, or tiara. Yes, a modern-day tiara is typically semi-circular but the early tiaras coming out of ancient Mesopotamia and Persia were full circle (how’s that for a stretch?).
When looking at a couronne, I was always struck by the fact that it looks a bit like six tabatière (tobacco pouch) shapes linked together in a circle. Why not, then, link three individual tabatière shapes in a circle? This can be done in one of two ways, either by : 1) placing three tabatière shapes, inverted, into a floured brotform or banneton, with an inverted drinking glass (its outside lightly oiled) at the center to maintain the void space and then proofing or 2) proofing three individual tabatières on a couche and, immediately prior to oven loading, placing the three tabatières on the peel together in a circle and allowng the oven spring to conjoin the individual segments in the oven.
For both methods, I’ve used pain de campagne dough, the formula for which is described here, although there is no reason other doughs could not be used. The shaping of the diadème using a brotform can be seen below (notice a small bit of oil is used to enhance definition):
Inverting the brotform onto a peel and loading the oven is seen here: