Video: Preshaping a Boule

Before shaping a boule or batard loaf, dough is often preshaped into a boule (ball). This preshaping allows the final shape to achieve a tighter surface tension, which helps the loaf maintain its shape through proofing and baking, and helps cuts to open nicely during baking.

This video demonstrates my method for preshaping a boule.

(If you can’t see the video here, view it on YouTube.)

A preshaped boule is typically covered and left to “bench rest” for 20 – 30 minutes before the final shaping. This allows the dough to relax and renders it more cooperative for the final shaping process.

To shape the final boule after the preshaped boule has bench rested, flip the preshaped boule over so the smooth side is down on the counter, firmly degas it into a flat round disc, and proceed exactly as for the preshaping, making the final surface tension as tight as it can be without tearing the dough.

Coming soon: how to shape a batard from the preshaped boule.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Thank you Susan, your demonstration showed more than pre shaping a boulle. Degassing, not wanting gas at this time and the fluffy and silky dough you use. Enough to have a look into with my next bread. I love to learn

  2. says

    Susan, you never cease to amase me how skilfull you are, great teacher, and so kind to share with us what you know! I’ve been afraid of boules, never get to do them right, always ending with a round flat mass of dough. Your video makes things look so easy, you are a true master artisan baker! I can’t wait to put in practice what I’ve just seen.
    ps. in the future, can you show us how yo shape a miche? I would really appreciate it, It’s my worst nightmare!
    cheers, Codruta from Timisoara, Romania

  3. Howard says


    Your site keeps getting better and better. Well done video, excellent presentation.



  4. says

    Thanks everyone!

    Codruta, a miche is essentially a flattened boule. I would shape it as shown here; only one round of shaping required (i.e., the preshape *is* the final shape) since you don’t want it to stand up quite so tall, and you can also flatten it a little with your hand after it’s shaped. Then proof it either on a floured board or a wide linen-lined basket. I wish you sweet miche dreams!

  5. says

    Susan, thank you again.
    (In that case, first I have to try to make a boule, and if I fail, well, it won’t be a complete failure, I’ll just say I wanted to make a miche. :P )
    Looking at the dough you shape in your video (can you tell us what hydration you used? can I guess~ 66% hydration?), I realise my dough is seldom so maneuverable (yours looks like a pleasure to work with), never so smooth, which is probably because the gluten is not fully developed and it causes the dough to escape from it’s shape, instead of keeping it together. Your video is so helpful, for so many reasons, I can’t thank you enough!

  6. says

    Codruta, it’s 68% hydration. I mixed it in the mixer to low-medium gluten development and gave it one fold during the course of the first fermentation.

  7. says

    Thanks Susan for the video
    It’s very(!) helpful

    BTW – I’ve just watched the dragon-tail-baguette shaping video, and I lovvvvvvvvvved it!

  8. Greg H. says


    Hi. Great video. While I was watching it, though I was dieing to see it from a side-view also so one could see what was going on while you were “tucking” the sides in and the final shape from that angle. You’ve got to bribe a friend to come and be your camera operator. I suggest bread or pasties for the bribe!


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