Folding the Dough: Video

Folding the dough (also called turning, stretch-and-fold, or punch-and-fold) during the first fermentation helps to develop the gluten and increase the strength of the dough. This means that the dough can be worked less during mixing; this is beneficial because excessive mixing can oxidize the dough, which detracts from flavor and crumb color.

The fold involves stretching the dough and folding it in thirds letter-style, then repeating the maneuver in the other direction. The whole process may be done once, twice, or more, usually spaced out evenly through the first fermentation.

I like to ferment the dough in a low, wide container so I can fold it without turning it out onto the counter. This works especially well if the dough is very wet. My video shows me picking up the entire piece of dough for stretching (the second time), but I would not be able to do this with a wet dough. Wet and/or floured hands help keep the dough from sticking to them.

Try to avoid tearing the dough during the stretching; I was not completely successful at this in this video. And the whole thing is admittedly rather sloppy, not a ton of finesse here. But until I can shoot another one, here it is:

And here’s a link to another folding video, provided by Bill Wraith, a fellow contributor to The Fresh Loaf. Note that Bill’s technique is definitely tidier than mine!

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  1. Susan, hello! What a beautiful site you’ve created. You lived in Norwich for 5 years? However could you leave?
    -Katie (aka browndog)

  2. Katie, thank you so much! It was definitely not easy to leave Vermont. And I wasn’t baking then, so I didn’t realize what a gem of a resource I had right at my fingertips in King Arthur Flour.

  3. Thanks very much.
    Love your site.

  4. Kim,
    Thank you for stopping by! I’m glad you like the site.

  5. I too am very much enjoying reading your thoughts on bread baking.

    And isn’t this folding method fabulous? When I discovered it (via Maggie Glezer’s “Artisan Baking Across America”), I couldn’t believe how much more simple it was to knead slack dough!

    -Elizabeth

  6. Elizabeth, how true. Do you love Maggie Glezer’s book? I have only had it for a short time but it’s gorgeous and the things I’ve made from it have been wonderful.

  7. I do love it, Susan. I confess that I haven’t made a lot of things from it but I have made boules from the recipe for “Acme’s Rustic Baguettes” many many times. It is one of our standard dinner breads – one that I make to take over to friends’ houses. I don’t think it has ever failed me.

    And I read it cover to cover… I use her folding technique for any slack dough bread.

    But I have yet to figure out the slack dough hand kneading technique she describes in detail near the beginning of the book. I’ve stared at the text and photo many times and then just gone ahead and used the technique that I’ve blundered onto myself. (dough scraper in one hand and slopping about and stretching if at all possible with the other hand)

    -Elizabeth

  8. Hi Susan, I finally managed to watch your video. I like the idea of using a container like that. One question – how much dough is that? I’m used to working with one loaf at a time so that looks like a lot.

  9. Kippercat, it’s about 2 kg of dough. A lesser amount would be a little more manageable to fold. On the other hand, if you have a big enough container and a reason to make a large amount of dough, even several times this amount can be folded relatively easily within the container.

  10. [...] 2 or 3 minutes until the dough is smooth. Bulk ferment the dough for 2 1/2 hours (with three folds at 30 minute intervals). Divide and shape two sandwich loaves. Proof the loaves in tins for a [...]

  11. It’s a privelege, yourwhole website, so clearly written. Thank you.

  12. [...] Susan of the WildYeastBlog  offers a video of her folding technique on her page here. [...]

  13. [...] 72oF, paliekame kambario temperat?roje. jei aukštesn? – paliekame šaldytuve. tešl? lankstome po 45 ir dar 45 minu?i? (taigi – po 45 min. ir pusantros valandos). svarbu po antro sykio [...]

  14. Finally, I found a blog on bread. I would certainly be following this blog more closely now. Will see if I can contribute from time to time. Where I live, very few pp appreciate bread made wth sour dough starter; they have no idea what they’re missing. But its ok, I would still cotinue my mission on making good artisan bread; slowly but surely I would change the outlook of some of these pp.

  15. [...] at room temperature for about 2.5 hours, folding the dough after 1.5 hours. Make sure the container is well oiled before returning the dough to [...]

  16. [...] and dust the top of the dough with flour. Firm up the dough and form it into a smooth ball by stretching and folding  it [...]

  17. Wow! Now I understand what I’ve been doing wrong all this time!

  18. Last time i tried was a disaster, after watching your video I’m now going to give it another try in the morning, Thanks!

  19. @Ainee I felt exactly the same way as you said you felt, “finally, a blog on bread!”

  20. I agree with you Ainee when you said that very few people appreciate bread made with sour dough starter, i have an aunt who enjoys making sour dough based breads and they’re delicious!

    Susan, your breads on the sidebar is making me hungry!

    Kimberly Harris
    Atlanta, GA
    SEO Company Imagine Consultation

  21. Oh, this blog has excited me so much!!

    I’m a big foodie and love to cook bakery items. For pastries and cookies I manage it perfectly. But have tried my hands on baking a bread, trust me 3 times I have always gone wrong. Don’t know where exactly I go wrong but ya rolling a dough is one thing I’m sure of.

    Will try using a container idea this time and will also share this idea with my art of cooking class fellows.

    Thanks Susan for sharing this secret of yours hope it works for me!! :)

    Maria Contreras
    Webmaster, Channel Communications

  22. I always loved to watch baking shows since I was a kid and I specifically enjoy the “punching-and-folding” the dough part! It looks really easy when they do it but I bet it takes some practice to perfect the maneuver – “stretch the dough and fold it in thirds”.

  23. I am so pleased the production of traditional fresh breads and pastries have fought back against the manufactured bleached junk that comes out of factories. There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly made and cooked dough of any type. Thanks for keeping these traditional recipes alive.

  24. That’s an extremely helpful video – thank you for taking the time to share it. I’m going to try that technique with a Tartine sourdough loaf this weekend.

  25. The varieties of breads shown in this Blog are amazing, and the various shapes an inspiration. The different shapes are useful for getting a child’s interest going in baking. But of course, getting the dough spot on is an essential, so this video is most helpful and practical.

  26. I remember the forms and designs of bread. Here in the Phils., we have the roast pig, alligator, crabs and roast chicken forms. It’s funny and cute.

  27. Finally, I found a blog on bread. I would certainly be following this blog more closely now. Will see if I can contribute from time to time. Where I live, very few pp appreciate bread made wth sour dough starter; they have no idea what they’re missing. That’s an extremely helpful video – thank you for taking the time to share it.

  28. I too am very much enjoying reading your thoughts on bread baking.That’s an extremely helpful video thanks you for taking the time to share it.

  29. [...] the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and ferment for 2.5 hours, with a fold after the first [...]

  30. Hey I am so excited I found your weblog, I really found you by mistake, while I was browsing on
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    would just like to say thanks for a marvelous
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  31. [...] your dough scraper, your hands and your work surface and put the dough on it and fold with the Dough Package Fold two or three times around (5 folds twice or three times). Cover with cling foil and let it rest 15 [...]

  32. [...] of approx 1 hr rather than intensive kneading are adequate to give the dough shape and structure. Susan Tenney demonstrates dough folding here for anyone who doesn’t know what this [...]

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