The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Folding and Proofing

rcayot's picture

Folding and Proofing

My first post after lurking for some time.

I have been making a lean rustic bread, soemthing like a french bread.  I have made it about 10 or so times. My question is along the lines of folding, and proofing.  The recipe states that I shouldallow the first fermentation to go for 90 minmutes, then fold once and then divide, shape proof etc.


What I am finding is that a primary ferment for 90 minutes is too long.  Often the dough has risen more than double, and by teh time I get thoguh with teh fold and shaping, the 2 hour proof does not get the loaves proofed enough for me.  Oh, I get significant oven spring, tehy taste greate tc.  BUT... I'd like tjhe crumb to be a bit lighter, and have a few more larger holes.  So...


How is this done?  I have a few ideas, and I think I'd like the feedback to address these ideas specifically, but additonal thoughts are always welcome!

1. Too long of a primary ferment.  Shorten it up so there is a bit of life left in teh yeast as the loaves proof and can get a little bigger.

2. fold three times during the first fermentation, say every thirty minutes until 90 minutes, then divide and shape.  Doesn't folding provide some structure for larger holes to form during proofing?

3. use less yeast.  I think that maybe I have too much yeast in teh recipe, 1 tsp for the poolish, 2 tsp for the main dough.  If there are too many yeasties, they will eat all the food all at once and ther ewon't be enough sugar left for them to eat when proofing time comes along.

Anyway, I think my dought is in good shape, I mix using a kitchen aide, use a poolish, knead for 10-15  minutes, dough is a little on the wet side, but not too wet ~65% hydration.  I bake on a stone at 475 for 15 minutes and get 200F center temperature. 


Thanks, Roger

LindyD's picture

Welcome to TFL.

Kneading the dough in a KitchenAid for 15 minutes sounds like an awfully long time, and baking at 475F for 15 minutes sounds like an awfully short time - or do you have a convection oven?

How much flour are you using?  Is there a source for your recipe?

flournwater's picture

As the saying goes, "Watch the dough, not the clock".  Fermentation times are only guidelines.  The person who created the formula did it in a unique environment that is unlikely to have been the same as the kitchen you're cooking in.

I might also suggest doing the fold at twenty minute intervals and I agree that 15 minutes of kneading in a stand mixer is at least twice, perhaps three times longer than necessary.

The amount of yeast you're using is relative to the amount of flour in the formula and the percentage of yeast to flour is a factor of weight, not volume. 

You might also want to take your finished loaf to an intenal temperature of 205 degrees rather than 200.  If you start at a high heat to initialize your oven spring, reduce the heat after about 5 minutes (in your situation I think I'd consider 425 degrees for the final baking period) and see how that works out for you.

rcayot's picture

Thaks for the feedback.

My recipe can be found here:

consists of 990g flour, and 600g H2O, 24g Salt and yeast.

Although I agree that I am kneading longer than necessary, I have read that it is difficult to 'over-knead'.  but I am a novice.  What I don't know/understand about kneading with the kitchen-aid and dough hook, is that the dough often climbs the hook and the top portion does not look like it is getting kneaded when sitting there a t the top of the hook, so I mix for 5 minutes, break it back down off of the hook,a nd knead for another five.  My thinking is that this makes certain that ALL of the dough gets the kneading it needs.  Would anyone suggest that a more frequent breaking back off of the hook is more appropriate?  Does everyones dough climb the hook?  It this a problem?


Thanks again,






flournwater's picture

A tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of dry yeast is about 14 grams.  So the total yeast in your formula should be 14 - 15 grams dry yeast, not 24.  The salt, for 990 grams of flour, is given as 24 grams in the formula, but I believe that's more salt than it should need.  My calcs suggest 19 - 20 grams of salt would be plenty.  It also looks to me as though the recommended cooking temperature is higher than it needs to be (I might start it at 475 but I'd back it down after 5 - 7 minutes to about 425) for that type of bread.

LindyD's picture

Hi Roger,

I looked at the recipe and find it curious that the author had photos of every step of the process, but failed to show what the crumb looked like.

While it's very difficult to overmix when hand kneading, I don't think that's the case with a mechanical mixer.  I would use the mixer for the initial mixing of the ingredients, and then for not more than three or four minutes after the autolyse, followed by a few folds.  

The final dough contains 990 grams of flour and 600 grams of water.  That's 60 percent hydration, and a bit on the dry side.  For a lighter and more open crumb, try adding a bit more water (a tablespoon at a time).

As noted above, fermenting dough can't tell time.  Only you can be the judge of your dough, through your eyes and hands.  You have good instincts, so that's not going to be a problem.

With such a short baking time, am guessing that your loaves are pretty light colored.  You might consider baking longer, at a  lower temperature, and allowing the crust to caramelize.

Do a bit of experimentation, have fun, and let us know how it turns out.

Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

If you have the "C" hook on your Kitchenaid, this can be a problem, but dough shouldn't climb if you have the newer spriral hook.   Also, dough has a greater tendency to climb the C hook if it's too dry.  If that's the case, try increasing the hydration.

It is possible to over-knead using the Kitchenaid.  First, the temperature of the dough rises 1 or 2 degrees for every minute of machine kneading, and the dough can get too warm (I think this causes the gluten to break down).  Also, over-mixing oxidizes the dough which can affect the flavor.  Unless it's a really slack dough (like ciabatta) 4-5 minutes is enough, though I've gone longer if I'm having to make adjustments to the dough.

rcayot's picture

here is the bread I made yesterday.  I really like the flavor, but as you can see the crumb is not as light as it could be.  Things I think I'll change are the %hydration and some mixing stuff.

crust and crumb

Thanks all

LindyD's picture

Hi Roger,

Flavor is what it's all about, for certain.  Your loaves have a nice color and I hope that upping the hydration will be help you achieve a more open crumb.

The right hand side of the crust is much lighter than the top and left hand side.  I wonder if your oven is not heating evenly and if the bread needs to be rotated halfway during the bake.

I'm not sure what shaping technique you are using, but I recently came across SteveB's excellent alternate batard shaping video and found it immensely helpful in my own shaping.

Let us know when you reach the magic combination.

Bwana B's picture
Bwana B

10 Jan 2009

Hey, rcayot:

Judging from the pictures, I say your bread looks pretty good and certainly not as described.

I'm guessing here because I don't know the fllour type, salt amount and other ingredients, except for the yeast and, obviously, I didn't see the dough during its development stages.

I can tell you that the machine kneading time with a 65% hydration dough sounds a little excessive, and if so, that can be a problem. From the pictures, it doesn't appear to me that you overorked the dough.  Have you considered a little less machine kneading time followed by hand kneading to a soft, smooth, and supple dough?

It's hard to tell exactly what's going on with your dough, but from what you said and the fact that the hydration is similar to that of a baguette; if your dough development process is giving you trouble, you may want to adapt the baguette dough development process.

You want holes in the texture: wet dough (65-75% hydration) and strong gluten are the main keys along with a baguette dough development process should do the trick.

I'm assuming you have been following instructions from some sort of recipe or formula based on the the informatin you provided but I don't believe the yeast is your problem - yeast, in your case simply relates to the time required for rise; the more yeast the faster the rise and vise versa. If you took the dough machine kneading too far, the protien structure colapses and you get a funky dough thet no longer has he structural integrity to trap gases and riae properly; The bread in the pictures appears to have structure; it looks pretty good to me.  

What's important, as you know,  is to be able to tell when dough has been  properly kneaded -this is checked using the window pane test.  Also as you know, proper fermentation is check using the traditional finger indentation pocedure whreby the indentation should slowly spring back, and finaly, whether it is properly proofed - again with the finger test - the indentatin should remain indented. 

Regarding all the folding you mentined during fermentation, I'm assuming there some purpose for this other than redistributing the yeast and releasing the gases as would be accomplished any way during deflation between initial fermentatin and proofing. If the purpose was to aid in retaining an open cellular network from a previous fermentatin period, it didnt work.

There are several factors that can have an affect on the effect of the texture of the crumb. In you case, it may be that you are using AP fllour when a higher gluten flour is needed to produce a lighter bread and provide a cellular network strong enough to trap the expanding "steam" and other gases to create the open texture you desire. Or, it could be caused by other factors - I'm guessing here, as I said before, so please pardon any error in my judgment.

From the pictures you poated, I'd say you bread came out really well, but based you commentary of the situation - I was expecting to see something that resembled a flatbread or pizza crust. 

I certainly do not consider myself an expert on bread dough processing or bread making, but I hope what I've passed along helps altough, from the pictures you posted, it doesn't look like you need much, if any help.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun doing it, and good luck.