The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stretch and fold or knead or both?

spfaff77's picture

Stretch and fold or knead or both?


I am getting ready to make bread this weekend and would like to try the stretch and fold technique. I can't find a "definitive" recipe that explains the ingredients/ratios as well as the technique. Could anyone post a link to a good whole wheat sourdough that uses this technique?

Also, I am not clear on whether you can do a first early knead, and then during the bulk fermentation, also do stretch and fold.....I guess my thinking is the more the merrier in terms of gluten development, right?

Last week I made very wet dough, too wet and I've learned I need to have wet...but not too wet dough.

Thanks for any tips!

FlourChild's picture

Stretch and fold takes the place of only a portion of the kneading.  Ditto for autolysing. 

High hydration slows gluten development (i.e., the dough needs more kneading to get the same degree of gluten development as a medium hydration dough) and also makes the dough somewhat difficult (sticky) to work with.  The idea behind S&F is that it's easier than kneading a very wet, sticky dough, it takes the place of some of the kneading so that the bread won't lose flavor due to excess oxidation, and it is possible to produce a slightly underdeveloped, relaxed dough that will have a more open crumb (larger holes) than one that was kneaded to full, strong development in a mixer.  It takes some practice to know how many folds to do and how the dough should feel when the structure is developed to the right degree.

All that said, the bran particles in whole wheat tend to weaken gluten, so you will have to be careful to get enough structure for the bread and, depending on how much whole wheat is in the formula, you  may have to rein in expectations for large holes in the crumb.  Hopefully others will point you towards a good sourdough S&F recipe.