The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stretch and fold . . .in a bowl?

sdionnemoore's picture

Stretch and fold . . .in a bowl?

I've heard of the stretch and fold method, but never of doing it "in the bowl." Does this mean just kneading using the mixer? I discovered this as part of the process in the recipe for baguettes listed below. I want to give it a whirl, but am unsure what this particular instruction means.

This is the portion of the recipe that mentions the folding-in-a-bowl method:

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until the flour is hydrated.

2. Let rest, covered, for 20 minutes.

3. Stretch and fold in the bowl for 30 strokes. Repeat 2 more times at 20 minute intervals.

4. Transfer dough to an 8 cup glass measuring cup, cover tightly.

5. Stretch and fold once at 45 minute

LindyD's picture

Here's Mark Sinclair's video showing the technique.


flournwater's picture

Yep, that's the way I learned it. Except that this demonstration video doesn't appear to turn the bowl 90 degrees for each fold, but that's not a big issue as long as you get fully 360 degrees around before you stop.  I use that method for my ciabatta bread, three revolutions of the bowl, three "folding" sessions, resting between each session.

dmsnyder's picture


With a rounded plastic bowl scraper, bring the ingredients together into a shaggy mass. Do this by running the scraper down the inside wall of the bowl and bringing the ingredients up from the bottom of the bowl and folding them on top of the ingredients that were on top of the bowl. Rotate the bowl about 20% with each stroke, so you are always working on a different portion of the dough. There is no need to empty the contents onto the work table. 

 Set a timer for 30 minutes. When it goes off, use the plastic scraper to give 20 strokes to the dough in the same manner as for the initial mixing. Use fair vigor, but avoid tearing the dough. Reset the timer and continue giving 20 strokes with the scraper each time it goes off. The folding is done a total of 6 times.

                          Jeffrey Hamelman, "Bread"



sybram's picture

David, am I to understand that we can use this technique on all doughs, or is it just to use on the really wet ones?  Do you never knead in the mixer or on the countertop?  Any recipe?


mcs's picture

The text description that David pointed out by Hamelman was my guideline for the technique I use. I think the amount the bowl gets turned is based on the width of the plastic scraper and the size of the bowl.  Since it's a 20 quart bowl, it gets less of a turn each time so the scraper 'doesn't miss' folding any dough over.  The great parts about this technique are:
-you can use it on high hydration doughs without the mess
-large amounts of dough are easy to handle
-no mixer required
-no counterspace required
-if it starts to get too sticky, stick the whole covered bowl in the fridge between folds and it'll 'thicken it up'

The only time I wouldn't want to use it is when working with a lower hydration (stiffer) dough or cold dough that would be too much work to fold over with a plastic scraper.


Soundman's picture

Great video, Mark!

That's the last word on how to fold in a bowl!


sdionnemoore's picture

Thanks to everyone for schooling me in this art. The video is great, especially since I'm a visual person. I appreciate you making these for us to learn from, Mark, and for sharing them.