Serious Eats

Bread Technique: Preshaping Bread Dough

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[Photograph: Donna Currie]

As always with our Knead the Book feature, we have five (5) autographed copies of The Art of Baking Bread to give away this week. Enter the contest here.

Since The Art of Baking Bread by Matt Pellegrini is technique-heavy rather than recipe-heavy, we're giving you some techniques here that can be applied to your own bread-baking routines. The book has instructions for two different preshaping techniques: the round and the oblong. Today, we're talking about the method for shaping the oblong.

The folding technique here is not for forming the final product—this is done after the first rise to create structure in the dough. It seems rather complicated, but once you run through it one time, you'll know exactly what you have to do.

Step by Step

  1. Position the dough in front of you with the longer side of the dough parallel to you.
  2. Place your fingers under the right side of the dough.
  3. Fold the dough to the center of the rest of the dough.
  4. Place your fingers under the left side of the dough.
  5. Fold the dough to the edge of the opposite fold.
  6. Fold the dough 1/3 of the way down to the rest of the dough.
  7. Use the side of your thumb to seal the edge of the dough to the rest of the dough.
  8. Place your fingers under the top half of the dough.
  9. Fold the dough in half and use the side of your thumb to seal the edges of the dough together.
  10. Place the dough seam-side down, cup your hands over the top of the dough, and gently rock it back and forth to tighten the dough. Set the dough aside, cover it, and allow it to rest.

What Worked: This created a nice tight dough that was ready for the final shaping.

What Didn't: This is a step that most recipes don't require, so it's easy to dismiss as not being important.

Suggested Tweaks: None. It worked well as written.

Adapted from The Art of Baking Bread by Matt Pellegrini. Copyright © 2012. Published by Skyhorse Publishing. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved

About the bread baker: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.

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