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:

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. kathryn king says

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

  2. says

    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. says

    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!


  4. says

    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.

  5. says

    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)


  6. Kippercat says

    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.

  7. says

    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.

  8. Ainee says

    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.

  9. Maria Contreras says

    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

  10. says

    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”.

  11. says

    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.

  12. Dan says

    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.

  13. says

    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.

  14. chix says

    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.

  15. Beauty says

    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.

  16. says

    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.

  17. says

    Hey I am so excited I found your weblog, I really found you by mistake, while I was browsing on
    Askjeeve for something else, Anyhow I am here now and
    would just like to say thanks for a marvelous
    post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to browse it all at the minute but I
    have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds,
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  18. jihn says

    Coming to this site was a stupid waste of time : it says ‘Folding the Dough : Video, but there is no video.
    There are several comments praising the technique and the demonstration of the technique but there is no video!
    I don’t understand what the hell these people are talking about because THETE IS NO VIDEO!!!!!!!

  19. says

    Brad, thank you for letting me know. Link removed.

    Jihn, thank you for letting me know the video player was broken. It has been fixed. Hope you took a warm bubble bath or something. ;)

  20. says

    I’m hoping you can help me understand why my beautifully kneaded dough turned to a sloppy mess. Granted I started in a bowl with the sponge then after a good set put it in my bread machine to knead and rise before shaping & baking. It looked wonderful,then went to shut off the machine and it looked like soup! Is there any coming back from that if it rests?

  21. says

    Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring
    on other blogs? I have a blog centered on the same subjects you
    discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would value your
    work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me
    an e mail.

  22. Madhuri Radhika says

    Hi, Great description! I am trying my very first time to bake according to your Ciabattta recipe! Would be wonderful to hear you talking while you are folding the dough in the video!

  23. Sarah says

    Thank you for this great site. One year after struggling with my bread making I am finally making some progress! However I have a question. When I shape after the first rise do I knock it back and get rid of the bubbles or treat it with kid gloves and just gently get it into shape to go in my proving bowl?


  1. [...] 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 [...]

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