Stretch & Fold

More free education from Bethesdabakers. Does stretching and folding the dough during fermentation have any noticeable effect?

Two identical white sourdoughs at 65% hydration:
mixed smallThe dough on the right was stretched and folded three times every hour for the first three hours of a four hour fermentation. After four hours:
proved smallWhen they were shaped the unfolded dough was noticeably slacker than the folded dough which had much more structure and resistance to shaping. The kitchen was pretty warm during proving – 28C.
Baked:
crust top 001 smallcrust 001 smallI think I can safely say that the folded dough (on the right) has much more lift.
crumbs 001 smallNot a massive amount of difference in the openness of the crust: the larger holes are mainly in the top third of the folded dough.

Both are pretty acceptable in my book. Most of my doughs are fermented over night and I don’t think I’m going to start getting out of bed to do the odd fold.

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One thought on “Stretch & Fold

  1. Charles Perry, a longtime correspondent, sent these useful comments: “After Dan Lepard described his intermittent kneading method to mix the dough on his once useful Web site, I experimented with manipulating the dough after the mix.

    Bottom line:
    My “stretch and fold” was all done in the mixing bowl and consisted of bringing dough from the (bottom) side of the bowl at the 4 major compass points to the center of the bowl and then turning over the dough.
    The rest between folds needs to be at least 15 min, but up to an hour did not make much difference.

    one set of folds helped the dough , but not very much. The best improvement for the energy expended was two sets of folds. Three sets improved the dough, but not much over two folds. There was very little , if any, gain going past three folds.

    Very slack dough was helped by doing the folds from eight compass points instead of four.

    I also do the intermittent kneading for the mix right in the bowl instead of dumping the dough on the table as Dan suggested.

    My comment. I think you could get the major benefits of “stretch and folds” by just doing the mix 40 min sooner and doing two sets of folds right in the bowl before retarding the dough. There is no need to change your sleep habits.

    On the other hand, there has to be a limit on tinkering with something that is selling well.”

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