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.
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.
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.