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Shaping a boule: a tutorial in pictures.

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Shaping a boule: a tutorial in pictures.

I have read so many bread baking books and viewed so many videos on shaping boules, but I didn't really "get it" until I saw our instructor, Miyuki, do it in the SFBI Artisan I workshop I attended a couple weeks ago.


I will attempt to show what I learned in still photos with descriptions. I hope that viewing these and then reviewing some of the excellent videos available might help others who are struggling with this technique.


Mis en place







You will need:



1. a batch of fully-fermented dough



2. a lightly floured "board" on which to work.



3. a scale, if you are dividing the dough.



4. a bench knife or other cutting implement, if you are dividing the dough



5. prepared bannetons or a couche on which to rest the formed boules for proofing



 



 





Procedure



 





1. Weigh your dough






2. Divide it into equal pieces.



3. Pre-shape each piece gently, incorporating any small pieces of dough on the inside. 



4. Rest the pre-shaped pieces, seam side down and covered with plastic or a towel  on the board for 20-30 minutes.







5. Prepare your bannetons or couche for receiving the shaped boules.




 




6. After the pre-shaped pieces have rested, shape each as follows:






* Pick up the piece and turn it smooth side down.



* Gently fold the long ends together under the piece.



* Rotate the piece 90º in your hands, and fold the other two sides together.




* Place the piece on an un-floured board, smooth side up.



 



 




* Cup your hands around the piece, and gently drag it 3 inches or so towards you in such a way that the edge closest to you sticks to the board and is dragged under the dough, thus stretching the top of the piece into a tight sheath containing the dough.




 



Note the position of the markers before stretching



After the stretching, the marker at the apex of the boule is unmoved, but the one that was at about 40º North, is now about at the equator.




* Rotate the dough 90º and repeat. Do this 3-4 times until the bottom of the boule is relatively smooth and the whole boule has an unbroken, smooth sheath.




Note that there are no visible seams on what will be the bottom of the boule, after the procedure described.


 




* Place the boules in bannetons, smooth side down, spray with oil and place each banneton in a food-grade plastic bag to proof. (Alternatively, place the boules seam side down on a couch and cover with a fold of the couche, plasti-crap or a towel.)



 



 


Well, there it is. For me, being able to visualize the stretching of the "skin" of the boule between a fixed North Pole and a point on the side, using the board to "grab" the bottom of the boule as I dragged it towards me was the "aha moment." I hope it makes sense to others.




The goal (to form a tight gluten sheath) in forming other shapes is fundamentally the same, but the method is entirely different.



Comments and questions are welcome.





Happy baking!




David



 



 



 



 


 

Comments

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Do you realize how many of us will be making up an extra batch of dough tomorrow just to try this technique? I've got to try that out ASAP! Thank you for sharing the technique.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

"Happy Baking!"?


David

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

With your very clear tutorial, I may be able to grasp some ofl the basics here and forget about going to the SFBI for that 5 day course which I've been contemplating as a retirement gift/vacation to myself.  However, after reading what you have been doing during those five days, I'm afraid that the course may be much too advanced for small time home bakers like me.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm happy it made sense to you.


When I finally got my mind around the technique, I finally understood all the instructions I'd read and videos I'd seen. I don't know why this simple technique had alluded me but it had.


There were some virtual beginners in the Artisan I workshop. I think with some study in preparation, you would probably get a lot out of it. If you have the passion for making better bread, that's the main prerequisite, at least as I see it.


David

whw's picture
whw

David,


Thanks for taking the time and effort to make this post.


Could you elaborate more on the below:
1) 'Pre-shape each piece gently, incorporating any small pieces of dough on the inside.'
How do you actually pre-shape your boules?


2) '* Gently fold the long ends together under the piece.
* Rotate the piece 90º in your hands, and fold the other two sides together.'
Could you elaborate a bit more on the above steps?

My understanding is that the pre-shape dough is rectangular. So you take the 2 long ends and fold it underneath the dough. Then do the same to the other 2 sides that have yet to be folded in. Is this what you mean?


Could you fold the 2 long ends on TOP of the dough. Then fold the 2 sides also inwards top wise. Then just turn the whole dough over to get the same effect?


Also when folding the 2 long ends, after you fold the first end do you fold the 2nd end so that it goes on over the 1st end. Or do you fold both ends so that it just meets in the centre with neither overlapping each other? And how about the other 2 ends later?


I hope I am describing sufficiently well to make sense!


Thanks,
WHW

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, WHW.


There are a number of methods for pre-shaping dough for a boule. I've used several and can't say I've settled on any one as "best." 


For step-by-step details, I would refer you to any of the good bread baking books that have text descriptions and photos. (See TFL Book Reviews.) There are also hundreds (thousands?) of youtube.com videos of pre-shaping and shaping procedures. My purpose in this topic was not to replace these but to augment them with one specific tip.


So, I'd encourage you to access the print and video resources mentioned. Try a variety of techniques, and see which works best for you.


David

whw's picture
whw

David,


Thanks for the reply and keep the postings coming.


whw

Minnesota Crust's picture
Minnesota Crust

Please do yourself a favor and attend the San Francisco Baking Institute. I am a home baker and I attended the Artisan Baking I and Artisan Baking II and it was a profound experience. It's hard to describe how enjoyable the courses were. There will be plenty of experienced and inexperienced bakers there so don't feel like you can't attend. The one suggestion I would have is to learn bakers math. Have fun


 


God Bless


 


 

ejm's picture
ejm

Does SFBI offer scholarships? Including airfare and accomodation?


-Elizabeth, in Canada where even the tax on the price for a flight to California is prohibitive.


 


 


(Please reassure me that I don't have to say I'm joking)


 


 

Candygirl's picture
Candygirl

I still have difficulty shaping my doughs.  Thanks for sharing!

arlo's picture
arlo

That is a very similar to the way I learned at Zingerman's, interesting, a way which I still use today at work or at home. Thank you for the tutorial, the 'flags' in the dough were a nice touch too by the way.

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

I understand the steps up to cupping both hands around the dough and gently pushing the dough towards myself...the difficulty is how to keep the dough stuck on the to board and not moving forward as I drag. I see that the two thumbs are not cradling/supporting the dough in the front, 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, jyslouey.


It is important that the board be free of flour and for the dough not to have dry flour on the surface. As you drag the dough, apply slight pressure to press the near edge against the board.


I hope this helps.


David

ww's picture
ww

when cupping and pulling the dough towards you or the table's edge, was what a baker told me once.

i have always just proceeded by instinct and it has worked, but this method helps a lot when you have to shape dozens of boules at a go. They even do one boule in each hand simultaneously...

thanks david for the tutorial

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I've got 500 grams of fermenting dough in the fridge that has to come out soon - will give it a try.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

LMK how it works for you!


David

LindyD's picture
LindyD

First try - not so good.


Tonight, I think I had that Eureka moment.  It was so much fun watching the dough stretch, I probably overdid it. 


Thanks!


Lindy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Lindy.


If you "got it," it's just a matter of practice.


I tried making a video of boule shaping today with Hamelman's 5-grain Levain. The dough stuck to the board and left seams on the bottom I had to pinch shut. Not a good example. But it was okay. I had the camera on the wrong setting, so my crappy shaping is just a memory. <Ouch!> I'm sure the boules will turn out fine, in spite of all.


David

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

I tried to shape my sesame rye bread into a batard and gave my small clump of dough a try using yr method, it worked!  I didn't make a boule though but I could see and feel the dough becoming tighter on the top and now I get the hang of it.  I learn something new on bread making techniques here almost everyday, thanks to the great folks here at TFL.  


Judy 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

used to say, "Seen it once, it's yours for life." 


Like so many skills, once you get the hang of it, it seems trivially obvious. I'm happy you got it.


David

Mebake's picture
Mebake

David, thanks! That helped alot! Much appreciated.

wally's picture
wally

David - The markers are truly ingenious.  I cannot think of a better way to illustrate the tightening of the boule that occurs with correct shaping.


Beautiful, just beautiful!


Larry

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

<blush>


David

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

as soon as I saw this, it dawned on me what I needed to do with the dough.  I used a thin silicon mat to keep my kitchen worktop tidy, I'm wondering if that may have helped  as I had lightly dusted the surface when I degassed the dough and there was still a bit of flour on the surface after preshape..  The flour on the silicon mat provided a slightly grainy surface which helped to hold the dough in place.

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

Thanks very much for this...I had been using some of these techniques lately ...it's nice to see I'm on the right track.  My "aha" moment was the pull/turn 90 degrees AND no flour on the board - small details but makes such a difference!


Currently I'm playing with the baguette...they taste great but the shaping needs a lot of work. If your pictures of your baguettes during your class are an indication - you have this technique licked as well..do you anticipate posting a baguette shaping tutorial?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I've thought about doing a similar topic on shaping bâtards and baguettes, but there are such excellent videos (and such bad ones) already available.


This topic was kind of a "probe." Personally, I had found there were important little pieces of techniques or ways of knowing when you are doing "it" correctly that I had missed. They are there to see in the best videos, but they may not be noticed if no one directs you attention to them.


A couple examples:


1) If you shape a baguette in the traditional way, you should always work to make each and every seam straight. 


2) When you do the last fold - taking the far edge of the dough over the whole loaf with your left hand and sealing the seam with the heel of your right hand (assuming you are right handed) against the near edge of the dough, right against the board - your thumb should go deep into the dough, so you are pulling over a really big flap. This is the final stretching of the surface that makes the perfect gluten sheath.


These are just examples. There must be at least a dozen other minutiae of similar importance.


With that in mind, view this video of my SFBI Artisan I instructor's own teacher at Johnson & Wales shaping baguettes, especially from 2:20 minutes:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI-WstoakmQ


Chef Hitz demonstrates essentially the same technique Miyuki taught us at the SFBI.


(Sorry, I haven't figured out how to embed videos yet.)


David

tssaweber's picture
tssaweber

This Swiss know what they are doing................


It looks like you had a blast in San Fran!


 


Thomas


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Did you see my blog postings on the Artisan I course?


From all I've heard, Chef Hitz is a marvelous teacher in person, too. My instructor was inspired by him to switch from training to be a chef de cuisine to a boulanger.


David

tssaweber's picture
tssaweber

Absolutely I did.


 BTW, when you watch Mark's video (The Back Home Bakery) he is using this technique too, he is really a master in shaping dough (maybe a new degree/title: MiSD).


I learned this during my internship at his bakery, so for me it is the normal way to shape the dough after each stretch and fold and for the final shaping. It never dawned on me that others would not do this. (Thanks again Mark)


So I agree with you that nothing is better than to learn from the Pro's.


Thomas  

tssaweber's picture
tssaweber

And that's how it looks like if you get to confident with your shaping skills:



From this side it looks much better.....



 


Thomas

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

Heh..I had a baguette blow out on me like that yesterday :)


You're braver than I am..I didn't take a picture of it...

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

Thanks for the link! I had seen it earlier but the 'tub'o'dough' put me off and I didn't watch it.  This time I watched it and picked up a few tips...one being 'roll to seal the ends' ..I will also heed your tip about keeping seams straight-I found I was loosing mine. I see now it's the same as the boules...I need to acheive that tension on the surface. The slashing in the video was also very helpful!

proth5's picture
proth5

And what have I been preaching about so long - not having flour on the bench when shaping?


Have to admit my favorite boule shaping method is a bit different (taught to me by Mark at The Back Home Bakery) but I can definitely see certain common elements.


Still not back to baking.  Soon  Soon.


Pat

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Thought you'd never ask!



Chicken breast, jack cheese, apple and arugala panini with red onion confit


Very yummy on San Francisco Sourdough from AB&P brushed with thyme-infused olive oil.


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

If ordering C.Hitz DVD's,  they are much lower in cost from his site...I don't know why Amazon.com price is so high...it is such a bonus that his books come with the DVD's...very nicely done.


Sylvia

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

Ciril Hitz spritzes the kneading surface ....it's like magic.  The dough really "catches" and  extends.  Such a simple step, but so effective.  Pam

wally's picture
wally

Pam, I've done that at home, and, even swiped my bench with a damp cloth at work for bagels and stiff doughs.  In general, in a production environment, you try to keep the preshaped pieces of dough on the upper end of the bench which is lightly floured.  The lower end, where you do the final shaping, is kept free of flour to promote a bit of stickiness - with the exception of baguettes and batards where you don't want to risk tearing the dough.  This dual environment can work well at home depending on the surface area you have to work with.


Larry

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The objective is for the dough to be tacky enough to grab the board but not stick to it. With very sticky doughs, a light flour dusting might be called for. With very dry, stiff doughs, like bagels or challah, the dough might just slide around if you don't dampen the board.


If you keep the objective in mind and act accordingly, you won't go wrong.


David

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

Larry, Thanks so much for the hint.  I'm trying to use this technique...but i still forget and joyously throw way to much flour around my bench.  I really need to be concentrating to properly place the flour only on the top of my bench  I used to use the whole bench to roll (shape). I found I can shape strands in much less vertical space.  I'm getting there.  Pam

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

David, Very well explained, as usual   Thank you, Pam

Leandro Di Lorenzo's picture
Leandro Di Lorenzo

David!!!
Tks for sharing with us this and all the other posts. I really apriciate!!!
I promise to be more active for now on!
Sincerely
Leandro Di Lorenzo.

ejm's picture
ejm

This is a wonderful tutorial! I really like the markers on the bread to show the movement of the dough. Thank you for doing this.


-Elizabeth

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello, I tried your technique today and here are the results:



 


Happy, happy, happy!   Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and experience at SFBI in this tutorial. I look forward to their weekend baguette class in October!


Regards, breadsong

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

What bread is this? I hope its a simple yeasted bread as I don't know how to make sourdough. Maybe I can use the same recipe as your wholewheat boule but just skip the sesame?  I recently bought a proofing basket at a real bargain when I was in Thailand.  I was extremely pleased that I could find exactly the kind of basket w/o having to order them on line.  I'd love to try it out to see if I can get the same pattern on my dough.  Did you use wheat bran, semolina or plain flour to coat the basket? Thanks and regards. 


Judy

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Judy! I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's French Country Sourdough for this. I posted about this recently: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/19308/rose-levy-beranbaum039s-french-country-sourdough-boule 
I'll add to that post, to answer your questions re: dough and flouring method for the banneton.  Regards, breadsong

smarkley's picture
smarkley

Thank you so much for this, David... I have made several boules now with this method and it works great... They all came out great!


 


Steve

Vogel's picture
Vogel

Wow, what a great job doing this tutorial. I'm rather new to baking, so shaping tutorials are what I am looking for the most at the moment, as the result is still varying a lot. I really love the idea with the markers. You really get a much better idea what is actually happening to the dough during the whole shaping and resting process.


When I am shaping round breads I use a different method, which is shown here in this video (the German term for this is "Rundwirken", which translates to "working to a round form"): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKQWYC8sSGE. But that only works well with stiffer doughs (up to the 65% range of hydration), so I will definitely try the method described here next time I am using a higher hydration dough.


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi,


I watched the video on rundwirken. The boule in the video appears to be a rye bread. The rounding technique is one often used for shaping or just for pre-shaping with wheat breads.


With both ryes and wheat breads, you want a smooth, intact surface on the boule. The difference is that, with wheat breads, there is much more gluten, and you want to stretch that gluten into a more or less tight sheath. That is what I attempted to illustrate.


With rye breads (over 70% rye), I shape boules just as is shown in the video.


Thanks for the link.


David

Vogel's picture
Vogel

Ah, I see I have yet a lot to learn. Indeed, until now I have only applied the round shape to breads with higher rye content (30 percent or more) and used other shapes for breads with only wheat, so maybe that's why I haven't known about the differences between the different techniques yet. Thank you for the information. I will definitly experiment with your method the next time.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

David,

I know this is an old thread but I have been 'browsing' today and ran across it and the aforementioned German video.

Question I have:  When that boule was placed into the basket the bottom seams were open but when fully proofed they had 'magically' closed.....Mine look like his going into the proofing baskets but not when done....the open seams are wider. I am curious if you know of a way to get them closed that keeps them closed???  I am thinking it is simply due to the exclusive whole grains that I use but though you might know....or have a hit or two to share on the subject...

Thanks,

Janet

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