Tag Archives: stretch

French Bread times Eight

French bread, one of the most iconic styles of all, especially the baguette style. This was bread no. 15 in our Hamelman series for the Mellow Bakers.

This specific variety is a “straight dough” which means that all ingredients are combined at one without pre-ferments and other secondary steps. Mix it, proof it, shape it, bake it: straight dough.

And simple is certainly what this bread is. Let’s have a look at the Mis en Place and see what’s going in:

Bread flour, yeast, salt and water (70%). Can’t get a whole lot more simpler than this. And off we go…

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Stretch and Fold (again)

Stretch & Fold 07

I figured that, since I have these steps already photographed for another entry, mainly the Vermont Sourdough post here, I may as well include them separately as their very own little “Stretch and Fold show and tell” .

More show than tell, mind you.

I hope this helps to show the technique well and let people know that there is an alternative to kneading, if you find that aspect of bread making difficult or tedious. Some people actually like kneading and feel it’s a good mental zone out therapy, they just get in the groove. I like kneading, myself, and some doughs you pretty much have to knead by hand, like bagels, which is usually way too stiff for a mixer to handle.

But this is a really great way to simplify your bread making if you don’t want to get into the heavy push and turn stuff. Even if you like kneading, this is a good technique to have in your bag o’ tricks for those time you’re just not feeling like it.

For a little more info on the ideas around the process and a couple of video clips, see the other page on this blog, Stretch and Fold: you don’t need to knead.

Here it is, step by step:

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Stretch and Fold: you don’t need to knead

Preamble: None of the following is original to me in the least. Here I’m merely collecting the wisdom of much more experienced bread makers into one easy to find spot. And I’m not even saying this is “all there is”, much more can be found on the web, from other people with different methods.

Stretch and Fold

This is a method of handling dough which pretty much replaces, in whole or in part, the more traditional¬†”push and turn” method of kneading of the dough.

grab the top third, stretch a bit, and fold down like a letter

From “Stretch and Fold Again”: Grab the top third, stretch a bit, and fold down like a letter

I’ve created a Step-By-Step photo illustration of the process in it’s own post here:¬†Stretch and Fold Again. Although, as with most anything, there are variations on how it’s done, the basic principle is as follows:

Take your dough that has been resting and turn it out on the counter. The counter should be either very, very lightly floured for the first fold of regular dough, slightly dampened for first fold of wet dough or unfloured for 2nd and later folds of either.

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