The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kneading Trouble

Angelo's picture

Kneading Trouble

Greetings all,

So this is my second attempt using what I guess is called French Fold? I found it from the video which this site linked to me.

Anyways, both times I've tried it, it has stayed sticky all the way through, up to 30 minutes of kneading! Not sticky like it looks at the beginning of the video, but still sticking to my hands/table. Could it just be a hydration issue or am I doing something wrong?

I combine my ingredients thoroughly and then get to kneading. I know that's not how the specific french fold area of the this site explains to do it, but that's how the video showed it and I can't argue with his results ... although I could argue with mine :(

Thanks for any help on this.

flournwater's picture

I share your frustration with trying to replicate the process he uses with the results he achieves.  But I suspect that the difference in what I'm trying to accomplish and what he's doing is the issue here.  I'm making simple bread dough (flour, water, salt, yeast) and he's making a sweet dough using binders such as eggs, etc.  I've solved the problem by decreasing hydration in my bread dough and working with copious amounts of flour available on the board to pull in as I need it and to keep flour available to put on my hands.

rainwater's picture

Hydration of %75 or less, everything comes together rather well.  I never use any additional flour or water because I don't want to alter the hydration, and avoiding additional flour because I always feel the new flour has a different gluten developement than what I've been working on.  I have two different techniques if the dough is ciabatta or forcaccia hydration level.  One technique is difficult to explain because it's my own technique.....I use my hands like a machine kind of.  I pull and stretch the dough straight up and slam on the table but very repeatedly and quickly like a machine (my hands never really leave the dough) occasionally scraping surrounding dough with the scraper.  It's a little like pulling and stretching taffy; the dough never completely leaves the table.  After a while, the whole dough starts to lift from the table when I stretch vertically and then I know I'm getting there.  Then I start use the typical slam, stretch, and fold until I get desired results.  When I see video where people are folding ciabatta and foccacia doughs with copious amounts of flour....well, it kind of defeats the purpose for me.....why not put that flour in at the beginning, then all the flour in the formula is at the same gluten development???  This is just my own surmising.. 

arzajac's picture

I could never get the "slap-and-fold" to work for me either.  Anyway, it seems like a lot of work.  I just stretch and fold three times over an hour and get excellent results.

Perhaps the slap-n-fold provides more aeration and therefore more oxidation?


wally's picture


Two things will improve your results.  First, wet your hands slightly.  Second, and most important, try only bringing the tips of your thumbs and those of the two fingers adjacent to them into contact with the dough.  (Think claws!) The less surface you provide for it to stick (e.g., the palms of your hands), the less you'll find yourself wearing the dough.

It's a bit tricky, but you can execute a good French fold in this manner.  When I'm done, I'll usually wet my scraper, and slide that under the dough to make it easier to transfer it back to my proofing bowl.

Also - you probably don't need to be kneading your dough for 30 minutes.  Depending on the recipe you're using, you should aim to execute a number of folds - anywhere from one to three over a period of time from one hour to two.

With really hydrated dough, the idea is to allow the water to do a lot of the work in assisting gluten development, not your hands.

For a good video of the French fold with shaggy bread dough, check this one out:


Angelo's picture

It only strikes me as odd because of how easily Bertinet handled his dough. There seemed to be no need for wet anything, tricks, flour, or ... I mean anything.

That's what grabbed me with it. I already felt comfortable with my kneading, but after seeing that I thought "I have to learn this!". There just seems to be precious little information out there in troubleshooting it.


Thanks everyone for trying to help. I think I'll try it again with a sweet dough and see if that really is where my issue is. I'll post more if I figure out what the underlying issues are.

marc's picture

Finger tips. Less hand contact.

Commit the process to memory. Then just do it—without thinking about it. Quick, consise and deliberate movements. 

An of course—a little bit of Pam on the palms never hurt. Just until you get the hang of it.

alabubba's picture

I love the french fold method for slack doughs. I have found it helps to let the dough rest. This will allow the flour to hydrate. Work for 5 min, rest for 3 min, work for 5 min... This keeps me from developing Popeye arms as well.