The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stretch and fold

VonildaBakesBread's picture

Stretch and fold

How long do I stretch and fold at each time? Just once? I saw one video that said two minutes. Laurel's Kitchen says 600 kneading strokes or 20 minutes. (but that's not stretch and fold) so...HELP! ;)

Advice please!



wally's picture

It depends, Voni.  What you're seeking is gluten development.  Once the dough goes from very tacky (sticking to the work surface) to more smooth and begins to show resistance, I generally stop.  That usually means 5 minutes or less.  Then I'll let it rest covered anywhere from 30 -50 minutes before repeating.  How many repetitions depends on what type of bread you are trying to develop, and the hydration of the dough.  With baguettes, for instance, you don't want to overstrengthen the dough, or you lose the open crumb you hope to achieve (same with ciabatta); so if I'm mixing by hand, I do 3 reps (including intial mix) at 40 minute intervals.  But with some doughs - say multigrains - you want to develop more strength in the dough and so I might execute 4 S&Fs at 30 minute intervals. And with others, it's a single S&F (not including initial mixing) at 1 - 1 1/2 hr interval.

As with just about everything in baking, it's a matter of trial and error and knowing what you're attempting to achieve.

In any event 20 minutes is WAY TOO LONG.

Good luck,



davidg618's picture

I've settled on the following general practice for preparing doughs.

I mix the ingredients, excluding salt, either by hand in a shallow stainless steel bowl with a bowl scraper, lifting and folding the ingredients while rotating the bowl, or in a KA stand mixer using the dough hook on speed 1. In both cases I quit when the ingredients are incorporated and form a shaggy ball.  I sprinkle the salt onto the top of the dough ball, cover it and let it hydrate, usually about one hour.

First manipulation: With the dough still in the bowl, I lift, fold and stretch the dough thirty times, I repeat this after a five minute rest 2, 1 or not at all depending on the dough's development. I judge its development by its tenacity and strength. I don't use a window-pane test at this point. Alternatively, using the dough hook, I machine knead the dough for two minutes on speed 1, and a minimum of 3 minutes on speed 2. For high hydration doughs (72% and upward) I increase the speed 2 mixing time until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.

In both the manual and machine kneading case I subsequently place the dough in an oiled, square plastic container, cover it, and  rest the dough for forty-five to sixty minutes. I have found, especially for lean doughs, a significant difference between the dough's tenacity and elasticity before and after a long rest period.

Second and Third manipulation: I stretch and fold the dough only once, and return it to the container for another rest period. One stretch and fold consists of stretching the dough in both directions approximately eight times it original length and width. Specifically, I stretch it eight times its original width and four times it original height, then I tri-fold its width. I then stretch the folded dough's height, doubling its dimension. I finish by tri-folding its height. I pat the sides of the folded dough to the shape of the fermentation container, and return it for another rest, or completing its bulk fermentation. Ocassionally, I will perform a window pane test before or after a S&F, but I've found the test redundant to what I've already learned by manipulating the dough.

Concurrently, I monitor the dough's temperature. I strive to have it at its desired temperature (DDT: usually 76°F, or 54°F for retarded doughs). If the temperature is higher than DDT--which is the most common condition, due primarily to kneading friction--I place the dough in the refrigerator during autolyse, and all rest periods.  Of course, once it reaches DDT it remains on the bench or in the chiller.

In rare instances I've done a fourth S&F.

I've tried to develop a time, temperature and technique discipline that, repeated, gives me bake-to-bake consistency. Of course, there are adjustments for different doughs, but I've found developing this base discipline has improved my baking overall.

David G

VonildaBakesBread's picture

Thanks David G and Larry. Exactly what I needed was a technique discipline. I saw how to use the stretch and fold but no technique discipline. I shall definitely stretch-and-fold more than once at the first time. You shoulda seen the nasty loaves I ended up with the first time I tried it without the advice you gave.



dabrownman's picture

when it has had enough S&F's .  The first time it may take 20 before it begins to resist the stretch.  When it took 20 on the the first one by the the 4th one it may only take 1- 2 stretches before you can feel it resisting.   With experience you will get the feel of the dough as David G says.

I really don't think about how many to do and don't fret over how many - I just let the dough tell me.  When you start to feel the dough tighten up just stop and let it test.  When you only have to do a couple before the dough gets tight, you are done with S&F's.

VonildaBakesBread's picture

Can't wait to bake enough bread that I have that experience, dabrowman! Thanks!