The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

French Bread Loaf Shaping Question

scarlett75's picture

French Bread Loaf Shaping Question


My dough is rising as we speak and I'm looking at the recipe I'm following (for standard french bread) and realizing that I have absolutely no perception of the "rolling technique" it speaks of. Here's what it says:

"After punching down the dough, divide in half and let it rise (covered) for ten minutes. Roll dough into a long rectangular shape and, starting with the long end, roll it into the centers. Use water to seal seam."

HUH? Call me very new-at-this but, I didn't know you rolled a loaf of french bread. This sounds very much like the way you would roll a cinnamon roll. Is that right? Can anyone offer me help in shaping my loaves?


Floydm's picture

I'm the wrong person to give advice on shaping because I stink at it. But since your dough is rising and you need help NOW I'll do my best...

I wouldn't roll it out as big and thin as you do for cinnamon rolls. You only want to push it out so it is, say, 4 to six inches wide and 8 to 10 inches long (for a French Bread loaf, not a baguette). Then you fold the sides in and seal the seam on the bottom and roll it back and forth a little to elongate and smooth it. So you aren't really creating a spiral the same way you do for cinnamon rolls, just folding the sides in. The point is to get even surface tension all up and down the outside so that your loaf stays roughly the same width from end to end.

The Hamelman book I reviewed the other day has great diagrams for helping shape. Using that book I am getting a lot better at it, and intend to post a lesson on it when I get better (but I'm not there yet).

Good luck!

scarlett75's picture

Thanks for the info.
I'll bookmark that site.
I think I figured it out, since I was pressed for time. I just kind for folded it under and made sure the surface was symetrical. The bread baked very nicely, but the dough was a little denser than I would've like it to be. Oh well...for my first shot at french bread, it didn't turn out all that bad. :)