The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

shaping problems

rthirlby's picture

shaping problems

I have baked bread from scratch for 10 years or so using many different recipes using all sorts of yeast and flours.  However one problem seems to be common to many of my effforts.  After punching back, I roll the dough tightly and cut it into sections to fit my tins and tuck the ends under.  However frequently the folds in the dough do not heal together properly and the loaves are inclined to fall apart when cutting.  I must be doing something silly at the shaping stage.  Any ideas?

richkaimd's picture

First, I've solved a similar problem by "gluing".  I paint both sides of the dough I'm wanting to stay together with water and then hold the sides together for a while until the "glue" sets.  By the way, when I have this problem it's because my dough wasn't quite wet enough and so wouldn't stick together.  The water "glue" helps that.

Second, it may be time to find someone with more experience than you have to help watch what you do.  Find a local mentor using this website.  You never know but that there might be a willing mentor right down the block.

Third, search for topical videos on this site and using your favorite search engine.  Try "shaping dough for loaves" or anything else you think might work.  There are lots of videos.

tomsgirl's picture

I have watched a ton of videos on you tube. I have found some of them to be very helpful.

Edthebread's picture

It sounds like the surface of the dough is too dry, so it cannot bind to the other layers in the roll.  Perhaps you use too much flour when spreading the dough prior to rolling it tightly?  This will coat the surface and prevent the layers from sticking.  Air pockets trapped in in the roll may do the same thing, but I would expect those to be isolated, not throughout the loaf.  You could use less flour when shaping, or perhaps spread out the dough and spray finely with water before rolling it up.

rthirlby's picture

Thinking back, I have often been rather generous (ie ham fisted!) in oiling the dough before leaving it to rise in the bowl for the first time, covered with a damp tea towel.  Could too much oil create a problem with the dough not gluing together later?  I take the point about resting the dough after knocking back and making sure i don't over flour the surfaces.


Many thanks for everypne's help so far.



thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

You're could be drying the contact surfaces too much before shaping by using too much flour on the bench. Flour might be necessary for very sticky dough, but it's seldom required for tacky doughs. Use your bench scraper more, flour less.

Also, if you create too much surface tension, then it's more likely that the loaf will come undone after shaping. Three tips: (1) roll it less tightly, as Edthebread says, (2) rest the dough for at least 5 minutes after degassing before you roll/shape and (3) don't be afraid to really pinch the seams closed, even creating a bit of overlap. You could use a bit of water to "glue" the seam, but there should already be enough hydration in your dough to facilitate a proper seam. Of these three, I'd say the second–resting the dough for some time before rolling/shaping–will pay the highest dividend.

If it's not just the seam that you're having problems with, that again would be too much flour and/or too much drying of the surfaces. Use a damp cloth to cover the dough as it rests to prevent it from drying and, before shaping, brush off as much residual flour as possible. Then, once it's shaped and in the pan, feel free to rough it up a bit: push it down into the pan, poke it almost as if you're docking the loaf, press into it. You've already degassed it, so no harm done as long as you don't rough it up too much. It'll reinflate as it proofs. 

BakerBen's picture

It does not sound like you are really shaping your loaf based on your statement above " I roll the dough tightly and cut it into sections to fit my tins and tuck the ends under".  I would suggest changing to the following techniqe for shaping. 

- "divide" your dough into loaf size - based on weight or just by sight and feel.

- work the pieces of dough into a round ball ("boule") ensuring that the bottum is sealed

- let rest covered for 15-20 minutes,

- Now you are ready to "shape" - for a pan loaf just "roll" the round boule into a "log" or "loaf" shape and place in a lightly grease loaf pan to proof

- cover the loaf pan and lef the loaf proof prior to baking - 30 - 45 minutes

- When proofed bake - you may want to spritz the loaf with water prior to placing in the oven.

Hope this helps.