The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Degassing/Knocking Back

yocky's picture

Degassing/Knocking Back

I'm having difficulty interpreting exactly how much to degass my dough at the shaping stage.

I'm baking a variety of breads including sourdough boules and baguettes, generally the type of breads where it's often recommended to degass as little as possible to encourage an open crumb structure. That's fine, I understand the concept, but that idea seems to conflict with the idea of the finger poke test. My freshly shaped, carefully handled dough seems instantly ready to bake based on the fact that an indent slowly (but not completely) refills. I'm never comfortable leaving the dough to prove for as long as recommended after this.

Do I need to:

a) degass more thoroughly so the shaped dough is firmer

b) shorten my bulk fermentation 

c) improve my understanding of the finger poke test

d) follow some other course of action 


Simon280586's picture

This is a good question and I too would like to hear any answers. I have heard a lot of conflicting advice. Recently I was looking for videos of Professor Raymond Calvel, and found one of him teaching Julia Child how to shape a baguette. It's an old video, but he is still regarded as a master. And his technique appeared to involve a fairly thorough degassing.

Link to video:

I also have the same problem with the poke test as you describe. Most often the dough feels ready to bake far earlier than the recipe's proofing times suggest, because I try to preserve as much air during shaping as possible.

MostlySD's picture

Wow Simon280586! That is a great video! Now, from my experience, it would be ok to proceed as Professor Calvel does with the dough when fresh or dry yeast (or a combination of natural levain and either one of those yeasts)  is being used. I find the amount of gas produced during the bulk rising is such that the dough benefits from a good degassing. That is not the case with only sourdough, at least in my opinion.