The Fresh Loaf

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Is it possible to achieve a windowpane with just stretch and folds?

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clazar123's picture

Is it possible to achieve a windowpane with just stretch and folds?

I don't have a single technique when I make bread. Sometimes I hand knead,mostly I use a mixer, occasionally I will use a stretch and fold technique. I haven't used S&F often enough, I guess, to answer my own question so I am polling the collective here.

If you answer "yes", please describe the type of S&F you use.

1.Some people use the concept to mix the dough from the start (as in Richard Bertinet's video  on mixing a high hydration dough), or a

2. French technique (sounds like "frisee"-can't remember the correct word) while kneading that stretches the dough with each push of the hands. I saw it first on Julia Child years ago with a guest baker.

3. Another Julia method-Julia would also hold the dough over her shoulder like an ax and swing it down onto the table-BAM-She described this as a method she witnessed in Eastern Europe-in effect stretching the dough on the downswing. She'd then fold it over and wind up again for another hit.  Hilarious and loud but actually effective. A strong kneading surface is needed!

4.Other descriptions I have seen for using all S&F are 3-4 S&F done spaced out during bulk fermentation.

So can a windowpane (on a dough made with AP for ease of description) be achieved with S&F and if so, what method?

HeidiH's picture

I use variations of the stretch-and-fold method show by Mike at  WhAen I say variations, I mean that the time and how many I do varies with they type of bread, temperature of ingredients, etc.  For example, for rye bread I do fewer with longer times in between.  If I make the dough with whey straight from the fridge, I up the times to give the cold dough a chance to catch up.    If I'm using a good, white flour like Caputo 00 Rinforzato or GM All Trumps, I often can get a real window pane.  With something grainier like whole wheat, etc., I don't expect it.  The sharper grains seem to rip any window pane I might try to get.  Basically, I adapt everything to stretch-and-fold and have had good luck with anything from a heavy rye to ciabatta.

clazar123's picture

Thank you for the link but it didn't go to the S&F page (went to an error page on the same site). Maybe this will work:

I finally found one of the Julia Child's "Baking With Chefs" and it was Daniel Forestiere and titled "Making a French baguette".They use "frissage" as part of the mixing. I have seen this before but watched it a few more times. I believe I saw it very early in my baking journey. Now it makes a lot more sense to me and I know why she is doing each step. While they do pound the dough, this is not the episode I originally described. Julia was much younger (weren't we all!) and she was alone on the episode. If I remember correctly there may have been one of her hilarious "mishaps" with the dough. Couldn't find that episode.

I have found that it is very important to get as much of a windowpane on WW as possible. One trick I learned was adding a few tablespoons of rye flour per recipe  (4-5cups WW flour or 500-800gWW flour) and ,of course,hydration and rest. The rye seems to add enough non-glutenous starch to the dough to help with this. Adding the salt to the dough after initial mix and knead also improves the chances of developing a windowpane with a high percentage WW. The trick is to NOT FORGET the salt! Great looking,high rising, bland bread!








davidg618's picture

For me, it depends mostly on the percent hydration first, the flour types used second, and finally other ingredients, especially fats.

For lean doughs--sourdoughs, and baguettes--I work at hydrations between 65% and 72%--I begin kneading with a KA mixer: 2 minutes on speed 1. I then move to speed 2. For mostly white flour mixes or all white I mix on speed 2 for three minutes. For mixes with 50% Whole Wheat I mix on speed 2 for 7 minutes. Subsequently, I do three stretch-and-fold at one hour interval. My stretch-and-folds are performed by turning the dough out on a plastic cutting board--its surface has a small, tight diamond texture without flour or oil. I stretch the dough to the boards edges in all direction, then I trifold it. I then stretch folded dough along its long axis, and trifold it again into a rough square which I pat into shape to fit in its square container. I should add, I routinely retard lean doughs for 15 hrs at 54°F, and set the DDT at 54°F, using iced water for the mix. Beginning with their 1 hour autolyse I place the doughs in the refridgerator between every manipulation and monitor their temperature. When the dough cools to DDT I place it in a wine cooler (54°F) for the balance of its bulk fermentation This usually occurs during the S&F manipulations.

For higher hydrations >72% I initially knead on speed two for up to 15 minutes, and use chef Bertinet's "slap-and-fold" for all, or all but the last S&F.

High fat content doughs, e.g. brioche, I knead the dough on speed 2 until the dough begins to clear the bowl's sides before I incorporate the fats.

Sandwich loaves, made with milk, eggs, and fats we normally make with the dough-cycle in our bread machine, which kneads for 18 to 22 mins, and has a fermentation temperature of 82.4°F. We ferment sandwich bread doughs for three hours at room temperature post kneading.

Sweet doughs I make entirely in the mixer.

Challah I treat like lean dough, withholding eggs or egg yolk and fat until after autolyse.

I don't make many Rye doughs, but when I do:

High percentage Rye flour doughs I make entirely in the mixer, and follow Hamelman's guidance for mixing and bulk fermentation: generally short mix, short fermentation.

Low percentage Rye doughs (< 33%) I treat as above in the category they best match.

Specific to your question: All lean doughs I make essentially develop great window pane integrity, but I don't check for it specifically. Other doughs depend primarily on the gluten content of the dough mix. If strong gluten development is appropriate to the dough I develop it.

David G



linder's picture

Check out TxFarmer's straight baguette recipe. 

It's a high hydration formula, but all you do is mix the dough until all the flour is dampened.  Let it rise at room temperature for 3 hours and do three stretch and folds at intervals during the 3 hour bulk rise.  I do my stretch and folds in the bowl. With wet hands,  dough in a lightly oiled bowl, I gather up underneath the dough on one side and stretch it up and over to the other side of the bowl, do the same thing on the directly opposite (180 degrees) side.  Then turn the bowl 90 degrees and do a stretch and fold on that side then again the same thing directly opposite-stretch the dough and fold it over.  Lastly, I turn the whole dough mass over so the top is now on the bottom of the bowl.   The dough came together so well it was sinfully easy.

Happy Baking,


HeidiH's picture

Gee, Linda, I bet hubby (me, chief-cook; he, bottlewasher) would like me to adopt this method so he wouldn't have to battle with the dough stuck like a thin layer of concrete to the counter where I do my stretches and folds.  Hmmm.  Maybe if I use the bigger old bread bowl ...

linder's picture


Don't use too big of a bowl though.  I've been told that the mass of the dough (its very weight) upon itself helps to develop the gluten.  If your bowl is too big, the dough will just spread out (if high hydration) sideways and perhaps not develop as well.  It's a balance/dance like everything else in breadmaking -not too little, not too much, but just right. 

Happy Baking


pjkobulnicky's picture

as long as you get the outcome you want.

I have been baking the high hydration dutch oven boules for a while now ( ala Tartine) and so I do a bunch of stretch and folds while pince-mixing together the preferment, salt and the autolysed dough. I do this just until I can no longer tell preferment dough from autolysed dough. Then I do three more sessions 30 minutes or so apart at the start of the bulk rise. For each session,  with a wet hand, I grab the edge of the dough which is resident in a large bowl, do a stretch and fold to the other side of the bowl, rotate the bowl 90 degrees, repeat, rotate, repeat and by the time I have done one full rotation (4 folds) the dough is too tight to stretch again without its 30 minute rest. After the three S&F sessions I let it bulk, divide, shape, proof and bake. My loaves have been all that I would want from them. This includes, BTW, up to 40% WW. Every time i do this i just marvel how easy it all is and how good the bread turns out.

But ... now that you ask, the next time I bake I'll do a windowpane test after the final S&F just to see what happens.


clazar123's picture

I think this weekend I'm going to have to try some of these ideas on a simple french bread. I have a hard time believing I  can get a windowpane with 3-4 S&F but I will give it a try. The video with Julia Child and Daniel Forrestiere use s&f but also use 850 kneads.