The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stretch and Fold

nadira2100's picture


Feeling very frustrated that I haven't been completely satisfied with any loaf I've made within the last few weeks, I decided to make a multigrain sandwich loaf. One that doesn't require a starter. And yes this frustration includes the Portuguese Sweet Bread because, even though it was soft and the crumb was almost perfect and the color was spot on, it wasn't perfect which doesn't sit well with a perfectionist. I also made this bread because I haven't been able to make a sandwich bread that is soft and spongy like so many good sandwich loaves are. Mine turn out dense. 

With this loaf I tried a few things that I haven't done in the past with sandwich loaves. The first being I used filtered bottled water. Again, I think this was part of my problem before and I don't think I'll ever go back to using the tap. The second, most important thing I changed was the kneading method. I've been obsessed with trying to pick up any tips and tricks I could find that will improve my loaves and the Stretch and Fold method really caught my attention. 

Now let me tell you, I had my doubts. But I tried it and I think I'll be applying it in the kitchen more often.  

This particular recipe is from Peter Reinharts The Bread Baker's Apprentice.... Multigrain Extraordinaire. Loved it. I actually can't wait to make it again. The loaf lasted 2 days and that's only because we wanted to save some to make BBQed pork sandwiches from a pork roast I made on Saturday. Here is what I did with a few modifications to the recipe...


3 tbsp Quinoa

3 tbsp course ground Corn meal

2 tbsp Flax meal

1/4 c water

Mix all of this together and let it sit overnight, covered at room temperature


13.5 oz unbleached bread flour

3 tbsp white sugar

1/4 oz instant yeast (or 1 full packet)

1 1/2 tsp salt

all of the soaker

1 1/2 tbsp honey

1/2 c milk

3/4 c water

Combine all dry ingredients and whisk together. Then add the soaker and remaining wet ingredients. Mix until the dough starts to form a ball and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until everything is fully incorporated. This dough was wetter and softer than I anticipated so I had to keep my area and hands floured pretty often. Once everything seems uniformly incorporated (about 3 min), place the dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap for 30 min.

Remove the dough from the bowl and do the first stretch and fold. Place the dough back into the bowl to rest for 30 min. My dough tried to blow another bubble!

Repeat the stretch and fold and put the dough back into the bowl for another 30 min rest. (2 total stretch and folds, 1.5 hrs total of resting).

Shape the loaf and place into a lightly oiled loaf pan and proof until the dough has crested the pan. Mine took an hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then rotate and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until the internal temp registers 195 degrees. This makes 1 - 2lb loaf.

I was amazed to see how much the dough rose during the second and third resting periods and how easy it was to handle. I was also amazed at how fast it rose, and how soft and delicately delicious the flavor and crumb turned out.

I've never made a softer sandwich loaf before. I also loved the textures of the grains that I used. All I have to say is...BEST loaf I've ever made. Now I believe that I am capable of truly extraordinary bread. 

AranMC's picture

I only joined this site yesterday so I'm still finding my way around.. I did find info and videos about stretch and fold very interesting.

I made some white bread today, just simple white bread flour, yeast, olive oil, a little salt, sugar and milk/water recipe. No measurements, just eyeballed everything.

I used the stretch and fold method of kneading for the first time to see what difference it would make. (by the way I usually have a wettish dough rather than a stiff dough, easier to work and softer bread which hubby and father in law like.)

I found the stretch and fold much easier and the bread rose beautifully, nice and steady...

I made two medium sized loaves and a french stick.

They both loved the bread, the texture was perfect. Nice and soft inside, no BIG holes, as I said, they loved it. So, success so far and only one small change done.

I plan on learning much more about the different types of bread, the different methods such as sourdough, and also we're building an earth oven this year so I'll be learning to bake bread and other baked goods in that oven too.


It's going to be very interesting learning here.



Schola's picture

I don't want to give up

December 22, 2011 - 6:27am -- Schola

I am due to have a mastectomy early in New Year, but cannot bear the thought of giving up bread baking. Am I unrealistic to think that I could use the stretch and fold technique over  several hours with very little heavy physical work? I've been told to expect tiredness or even exhaustion. But if people can help with the washing up and carrying I reckon I could do something? Any ideas please? 

basbr's picture

If stretch and fold is not an option

January 26, 2011 - 1:22am -- basbr

A lot of experienced bakers on this forum sing the praise of stretch and folds for gluten development, workable wet dough and open crumb. I understand the concept, and I think it's pretty darn smart. Problem is, I cannot do it because of my handicap.

I have this brand new KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer that easily kneads a high hydration dough for a long time, without heating up. I followed the discussions in the forum, but most focus on S&Fs as an alternative to extensive mixing.

Mason's picture

Converting Reinhart's WGB whole grain recipe to higher hydration stretch and fold

June 27, 2010 - 2:21pm -- Mason

I'm in the middle of attempting to convert Reinhart's WGB recipe for transitional (50% whole wheat) whole grain to a higher hydration bread, using the "stretch and fold" with overnight fermentation method from his Artisan Breads Every Day book.  

Boulanger's picture

Stretch and Fold

May 10, 2010 - 3:02pm -- Boulanger

Hi everyone,

I need your input about folding techniques. I use a the simple stretch and fold method, 3 times at 30 minutes intervale, for very wet dough but can I use the same technique for dough with less hydratation, like french bread? My wrists are very week because of arthritis and it will be less painfull for me to do 3 stretch and fold vs 10 minutes of kheanding . 


Boulanger's picture

Stretch and Fold with a spatula

May 3, 2010 - 2:53pm -- Boulanger

In a recipe I found on this forum the procedure ask for:

''Using a rubber spatula or a plastic scraper, stretch and fold the dough 30 times''

I use the strectch and fold technique when I make BBA's Pain à l'ancienne but I am not familiar with this procedure. Is there a video that shows how to do it with a rubber spatula?





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