The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Autolayse + Stretch and Fold

pixy's picture

Autolayse + Stretch and Fold

Hi, I have been looking a lot on your site and got excited by the idea of "autolayse". Wheat is naturally water resistant so the idea of letting it sit and soak is great.  While trying to fully understand how autolayse works I ran across "stretch and fold" which also sounds wonderful.  The idea of slowly stretching and folding rather than the hard work of kneading it by hand (I don't have a mixer). I would like to know how to use these methods with all my bread baking.  How can I take recipes that my family and I already like and incorporate the autolayse and stretch and fold methods?  Does anyone know more about one or both of these methods.  I have been searching the web and all I can find are definations and a several descriptions of how wonderful the bread looks.  There must be some basic formulas for both of these methods. 


Russ's picture

There are some good videos here.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Following your recipe, stir up your dough (to moisten it) with liquids and most of the flour, then cover and let it rest 30 minutes before doing anything else. That's basically it. Then continue. Very simple yet very effective.

Mini O

josordoni's picture

If you want to find out more about autolyse, there is loads here - you might want to search for autolyse, as that is the correct spelling, and will give you plenty (perhaps more than you want!  LOL) of information.


halfrice's picture

I use stretch and fold when I make ciabatta as it is not easy to knead a high hydration dough by hand.


Half Rice Half Woman 

KosherBaker's picture

Hi Pixy.

The technique of Autolyse is indeed discussed quite a bit on these forums, so I would second the suggestion of doing some searching and reading. I find that the more I read here the more I learn. The basic idea of Autolyse is to allow the mixture of water and flour to develop gluten on its own without your intervention. The mixture to be Autolysed includes only flour and water, and is allowed to rest for at least 30 minutes that's the minimum and up to several hours. 4 to 5 hours can be done at room temperature. Anything more than that should be done in the fridge. If you have bread with low hydration. Meaning the amount of water constitutes less than 60% of the flour you would not add all of your flour to the Autolyse mixture, but rather about 75% of your flour. Becuse if you did the dough would be too hard and it would be difficult to incorporate leaven and salt later on. If your dough is high hydration you may be able to Autolyse all of your flour.

The stretch and fold technique has two variations. One advocated by Jeffrey Hamelman and the other by Richard Bertinet. Both were developed to handle high hydration doughs, since doughs of high hydration do not yield themselves to being kneaded in the traditional sense.

Enjoy your searching and reading, I know I did.

Lastly I went ahead and defined some common terms used by members on this sight on my blog page. Linked at the bottom of my signature.

My TFL Blog Page

countryschool's picture

Hello there,


I am having questions about combining the poolish with the autolized main dough.  Recombining seems very rough.  How are folks combining the poolish and the autolized main dough?





Pablo's picture

Hi Mark,

I bake with levains so I have the issue of combining the levain, the autolysed bulk of dough and water and salt and I also usually throw in whatever extra levain I have laying around from feeding my starter.  What I do is to stretch the autolysed dough out on the counter then stretch one of the things I'm combining into the dough on top of it and fold and knead a bit.  Sometimes I mix the salt with a tiny bit of the water and then poke holes into the stretched out dough and basically poke with my fingers and work the water/salt mixture into the dough.  Once I've got it pretty well incorporated I do a bunch of slap-and-folds, although not the whole "850 times" recommended by some.  Just until the dough surface is not splitting when I whack it on the counter.  Then I let it sit for an hour or so and do a stretch and fold, then the main fermentation.  So, personally, it's a bit of a hybrid between autolysing, stretch and fold, and slap and fold, and traditional kneading.  Even some squashing of hard lumps if needed.  It's amazing to me that a mass of sticky and sometimes lumpy glop can resolve into a nice smooth dough with a little effort and patience.  I'm generally in the 75% hydration realm.  FYI


countryschool's picture

I am going to try increasing the hydration of my main dough and try folding as you described.

I have never done the posting thing before.  I am very excited to get the two replies!

Thank You,



Pablo's picture

This forum is so much fun - to share our combined knowledge and progress.  Be sure to post what happens when you try some different techniques.  Even folks who don't post are interested.


ericb's picture


Mixing a liquid (such as poolish) into a partially-kneaded dough is tough. I have always always mixed the poolish and water together first, then added the flour. The entire mixture goes through the autolyse phase together. After the autolyse, throw in the salt and yeast.

I'm not sure if this is the proper way to do it, but it has always worked for me.

As a side-note, I think it's funny how we've Anglicized the term "autolyse." I have seen "autolysed," "autolysing," and "autolyses." I'm having flashbacks to Latin class: "autolyse, autolysum, autolysa, autolysesisimus..." LOL. 



tjkoko's picture

Eric stated: <<...After the autolyse, throw in the salt and yeast...>>

Eric, when adding salt and yeast at the end of autolysis, is there much mixing required for even distribution of that salt and yeast?

Davo's picture

Yeah there is a bit of mixing to get the salt in. I never use added yeast, so I can;t help there. For what it's worth, with  my sourdough, I just mix all the flour and salt I am using together, add my final dough water to the levain and stir it up to a roughly uniform paste - not being too fussy. Then I mix the flour/salt TOGETHER into the levain/water mix. Then I let this rest for 20-30 mins. Some will say it's not an "autolyse" as it's got the salt in it, but I can tell you I've done it all ways (added th salt later to the levain/new flour/water; and autolysed the new flour water and then added this to the levain and salt and mixed) and there's no discernible difference, 'fyask me, except those other ways are too much muckin around. The end product results seem identical, but easiest my way, for me. Others might have different results.

My kneading is always slap/fold and I do it in short goes at 10 min intervals over then next half-hour, before slowly morphing into longer rests with the "envelope" fold. I reckon I do maybe 50 or so slap/folds all up, and maybe 3 stretch-and-folds. Works fine for me. Only things I'll do dofferently is do some slightly more agressive standard kneads initially if it's really lumpy, but that can be avoided by making sure the flour for the bread dough isn't clumping when fisrt mixed in....