The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

When is proofing done using stretch and fold?

RunningBadger's picture
RunningBadger

When is proofing done using stretch and fold?

I'm new to using the stretch and fold method and can not figure out when the bread has finished proofing?  Before with traditional kneading I would knead till window pane and then let proof tildoughty doubled, or about there depending on the recipe.  Im not sure with S&F if I should do one morotu cycle or shape for baking.

 

Thanks for the help.

arlo's picture
arlo

You can look for the same observations in dough behavior in regards to fermentation if you do S&F or not. But not all doughs will double and some doughs feel slightly different than the next when properly proofed.

If you are using a clear container to proof your doughs in, it is a good sign of fermentation if you can notice air bubbles forming around the dough when pushed up against the side of the vessel. Typically though the dough should feel lighter and similar to what you have experienced in the past when not using S&F - if it is the same dough.

I am sure others will have more to say about it as well. :)

davidg618's picture
davidg618

...if you haven't discovered it already, bread-baking seems to be full of words and short phrases (jargon?) meant to mean the same thing, but to a newcomer it might seem like a conversation with Humpty-Dumpty. Proofing, Fermentation, Bulk Proofing, and Bulk fermentation are good examples. Furthermore, there are words and phrases that describe a baker's actions, yet reveal nothing of why one invests the energy. Knead, and Stretch & Fold are excellent examples. They both, essentially, accomplish the same task, but don't describe the task: gluten development So...

At the risk of sounding pedantic, acounting for inflation, I'll offer my 22 cents.

The moment we add water to dry flour chemical and mechanical processes begin immediately. In modern terms the collective of all those molecular bondings, dividings, and interminglings is most accurately called fermentation.

In the context of your question two major processes must happen during fermentation: gluten development, and yeast growth. (There are many other processes also happening simultaneously, but their explanations are answers to different questions.)

For bread to rise--expand like a ballon--you need an elastic membrane, and a gas pressure difference between the inside of the membrane, and its outside. Gluten provides the membrane--but it needs help to develop; that's where Kneading and/or S&F contribute. Yeast growth require the yeast to eat--mostly sugars released by other chemical processes into the flour-water mix (or added as an ingredient)--and...well...fart. Fortunately, growing yeast farts lots of CO2 (carbon-dioxide) providing the aforementioned pressure differential.

To make gluten, two different proteins (BIG molecules) have to combine. To turn them into a membrane multiple gluten molecules have to form "threads" and "weave" together. The words in quotes are macro analogies, but describe the process reasonably well. Kneading serves this process by continually moving un-joined, differing proteins into proximity wherein they can bond forming gluten. S&F's do exactly the same thing at the molecular level, but with very different Baker actions.

Kneading and S&F also stretch and interlace the gluten threads thus forming a membrane. Abrakadrabra! bread dough!

Before leaving Fermentation, however, there is one other macro-term to consider: Time. The two processes--gluten development, and yeast growth--take time. That's why we rest the dough, after kneading and between each S&F. We measure time by counting: minutes, seconds, hours, days, weeks, ye...well  you've go the idea. We also measure it, especially, in older recipes by volume change: most frequently, doubling. (I suspect, until well into the twentieth century most kitchens didn't have clocks, and many bakers couldn't tell time.).  Fortunately, at usual bakery and kitchen temperatures the two chemical processes discussed have been proceeding at the same rate for hundreds of millennium.

Take note, however, that doubling is prescribed for dough at rest, S&F dispels some of the gas captured inside the membrane, so don't expect a dough that has been S&F'ed three times over a period of two to three hours to also double during that time. It's a good practice, to let the dough rest for a good amount of time after the last S&F; typical is the same time as that between S&F's. Nonetheless, Arlo's spot on with his post. Learn the "feel" of well developed dough.

A personal note: I've been baking bread for decades. I've never liked kneading dough. I consider the dough hook, and S&F's gifts from the kitchen gods. I use both in most breads I make: the stand mixer early, the S&F's following.

 

A final note: Successful bread baking doesn't end with successful fermentation. I suggest it's worth knowing what's going on in the dough while such terms as "oven spring", "Maillard reaction", "Gringe", and "Bloom"  to name a few, are prominent.

Happy Baking!

David G

 

RunningBadger's picture
RunningBadger

You both helped me tremendously.  I used to use my dough hook and KA to do my kneading, but making bread at my daughters nap time drove me to a quieter method.  I would just go by time and guessing to decide to shape the bread.  The more I use the same recipe over and over again will help develop the "feel" skills I need.  Something I could resolve to do in the new year.

A little trivia for you about the time keeping in ancient kitchens, from the book "Consider the Fork" by Bee Wilson. (I just happen to be reading this chapter now). Clocks were noticed first in the kitchen around the eighteenth century.  Prior to that time was kept by saying prayers.  I think for the bakers they went by feel.  That would be a lot of prayers!

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I like your trivia note.  

I am wondering if the 'bad' monks/novices etc were sent to the kitchen to pray when found sloughing/sleeping during prayer times....

 Makes me think of Maggie Glezer's book 'The Blessing of Bread' though I don't think that is how she came up with the title :-)

DAVID:  I love your response to RBs question.  Very nicely stated and informative.

Thanks,

Janet

gmabaking's picture
gmabaking

I wonder if the times were kept by what time a certain type of prayer was expected more than the length of time for the prayer itself. Maybe the dough was set to bulk fermenting after morning prayers, shaped just before noon prayers and expected to be out of the oven before evening prayers and ready for dinner which was likely a soup and bread type of meal. Peter Reinhart's "Brother Juniper's Bread Book" has lots of interesting ideas about "Slow Rise as Method and Metaphor"

The only prayer for timing I've heard about before was testing the oven's readiness for bread. Wherever I read that I don't know, but the wood fired oven was ready when it was so hot you couldn't hold your hand in long enough to say a "Hail Mary" prayer. Thank goodness for temperature controls. I find reaching in to get the DO out at 500 degrees enough of a challenge. I have come lately to a simple prayer, asking for a blessing of the bread and for all who will be nourished by it. My sister Diane told me I should add a prayer asking not to burn myself with the DO. lol

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Gma,

Your explanation of using prayers based on morning, noon and evening prayers makes perfect sense.  In fact, I like it.  Seems to tie both the prayers and the doughs into a very solid base or rhythm - can't come up with the word that would describe what your words convey....A rhythm that has much less stress to it and more conscious awareness to it - rather than rushing against time - working with the flow of time and creation. How life is continually unfolding and creating itself anew at each moment.  

Tending to my doughs is like when my kids were little and our days had a rhythm to them that was very calming.  I couldn't rush around with 3 little ones so our days were based on their needs for food and rest.  Somewhere in their growing up the rushing against time began and the clock began to demand our attention.  

Now they are grown and I have only 1 remaining at home.  I began baking a couple of years ago to help with the transition of all of a sudden having a lot of time on my hands.  The rhythm that baking has added to my day has been a great comfort.  I pay less attention to the clock because it can't really tell me how my doughs are doing.  I have to pay attention to the doughs.

I would add one more prayer time into the schedule.  I think they had to get up in the middle of the night and pray too - time to feed the leaven to make sure it is ready for the dough in the morning. :-)  

Do pray about not burning yourself with the DO!  I burned my face last year when steaming a loaf and it was VERY painful and took several months to heal and my face is still sensitive to heat so I stand back when opening a hot oven or when working over a pot of hot water....(I was adding hot water to a hot pan but I was experimenting with placement.  The hot pan was on the top shelf rather than the bottom shelf so my face was closer to the rising steam when I poured the water in.....Didn't hurt when I did it.  In fact, I didn't know I had done anything until later when the red marks began to appear....)

Thanks for your words :-)

Janet

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Hi, Janet

Sorry to hear about your burn; glad it's healed.

I especially like your "rhythm of the dough" thoughts.

We are embarked on a semi-major kitchen redo/upgrade, intalling a new 36", 6 burner, duel-fuel stove, range hood, over-stove cabinets, and tile backsplash.  The range hood and stove are in place and functional. Hopefully, the remainder will be finished before Christmas; we're having a group of the neighbors joining us for Christmas dinner.

The old stove had a built-in clock; the new one doesn't. I found the perfect clock for baking especially, and life generally: It seems to say, "listen for the rhythms". It's hanging just to the right of the new range hood.

David G

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

LOVE your clock!

What saddens me is that I remember when I didn't need a clock and had only 1 in our house but as the kids grew clocks began to 'run' my life and more appeared throughout the house. 

What gladdens me is that now that the kids are grown and can get places on their own....I can turn once again to that quiet natural rhythm.

What irks me is that part of me still looks for a clock where I expect one - i.e. in a car......I drove cars for 35 years without a clock in sight but now have one in mine as they are 'standard items' and I find myself uneasy when in my son's car that doesn't have one - uneasy for no reason other than part of me has been trained to a clock.  I am sure this will pass away as all things do....just a curious observation.

Take Care,

Janet

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

My late father was an engineer by trade and a stickler for detail about everything, especially the timeliness of his family.  My mother went with the flow.  One year, we kids gave him a remotely set, atomically accurate clock and her the "whatever clock."  He never did understand why she was so delighted with her clock.    She still has her clock right by the front door of her elderly apt.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Wonderful anecdote, Heidi

I'm also an engineer (long retired), and the clock sitting beside my side of the bed is atomically accurate. I've lived in both your parents' worlds, and learned they both have their own particular lessons to teach us, and gifts to give us. I'm grateful for being so lucky.

David G

gmabaking's picture
gmabaking

Janet, your comments about the rhythm of the day are put so well. It made me think of the events through the years that have driven that rhythm of the days. Getting husband and kids up and off to work and school, then dishes, cooking, vacuuming, dusting. The list goes on and on, as you said, we did what we needed to do to build and nourish hearth and home. Later it was managing clashes of work and home schedule and then....the kids were grown up and it was time to retire from a demanding work life. About that time the rhythm of daily prayer entered my life when I became a Franciscan. You are right about the prayers in the middle of the night but for this lay person, the middle of the night is used as you said, to feed that leaven in preparation for the coming day, or to peek into the refrigerator to see if the dough is really growing.

I'm glad you are over the facial burns, that must have been so painful! When I feel my eyeglasses getting too hot while reaching in to take the lids off, I really do worry about just that. About half the time I use the cold dutch oven in the cold oven and I really can't tell the difference from the hot DO in the hot oven. Makes it so much easier to load and slash the dough too.

Baking is such an adventure, we will never run out of new things to try and with the creative people here on TFL there is always a new combination of flours or practices just around the corner.

Barbra

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Barbra,

Isn't it nice where life leads us?  Into the most unexpected and delicious places. The adventure doesn't appear to be letting up any as I get older :-)

Yes, I found the same thing with DO and hot vs cold.  Now I don't need one at all because I have a convection oven that has the ability to steam breads.  I just pop my loaves in and push a button and the job is done.  So far my face has been safe *^}

Take Care,

Janet

davidg618's picture
davidg618

The only prayers uttered therein are that the bread rises, and everything finishes on time.

I second your mastering one formula by repeating it often.   I encountered that advice from many seasoned bakers on TFL when I first began baking, at this level, nearly four years ago. It is perhaps the singularly most important advice I found here, among a storehouse of good advice and guidance.

David G

arlo's picture
arlo

Oh goodness, I misinterpreted the question -sorry!

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"When is proofing done using stretch & fold?"

Stretch and fold is best used with wetter doughs that are so limp they tend to rise more out than up.  Goal is to get a dough rising up more.  So the wet dough gets folded back onto itself when it relaxes too much.   So...  the pattern of the rising dough is ferment (relax) then fold (tighten the matrix) REPEAT.  

Now comes the Question:  When is proofing done?

I notice that as the repetition of folding and fermenting goes on, three big observations can be made.  1) the dough is getting wetter as fermentation speeds up (esp. in sourdoughs)  2) the folds are getting closer together to tighten up the matrix and 3) the dough is filling up with gas getting taller and puffier.  

Now you can time your folds (say 3 at 45 minute intervals) or fold as the dough relaxes and goes sideways (say at one hour and then 45 min and then at 30 min) before letting the dough go thru a final proof.  Generally the wetter the dough the faster the fermentation and the more folds needed to keep its shape.  So you will have to judge your own dough in this respect and what you want to achieve.   Do each set of folds ending with flipping the dough back over (top side up) and tucking under the corners like this might be the last rise.   What I have found is that as folding continues and shape improves, the folding becomes more gentle and the dough tightens faster during folding.  The dough may start to rip if it is forced to fold too much.  (good sign) Don't let it rip, stop, cover, let it rest before handling again.  I think that as you play with the dough, feeling the rising dough, you will be able to judge when to let it continue rising (to bake)  or  whether to make another round of folds.  

Note: There is a point where the dough will start to break down from too much fermentation.  Should this happen, the dough looses shape quickly and may become sticky.   Instead of folds firming and tightening the dough, the dough will tear, loose gas, may get stringy falling apart.  That is when the dough is too far overproofed to be a loaf.  More fresh dough needs to be added to what is now a poolish in order to make it into bread.  

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

One additional note to supplement these excellent contributions from david and mini:  Find a vessel in which to do your bulk fermentation that allows you to observe the dough's changes in physical state during the process.  For example, I was frustrated in my early SD baking with my then-mentor Chad Robertson's suggestion of doing the bulk in a taller-than-wide plastic container.  I couldn't see the dough gaining strength through in-bucket S&F's, only bubbles starting to form at top and sides when yeast 'farting' (love that, david) was in full swing.  So I happily moved to ~12"x12" covered clear plastic boxes (Container Store? - probably) that easily accommodate 2 kg of dough.  At first, the dough will settle and spread to touch the box's sides.  After a few S&F's either in the box or out on the bench, the dough's acquired strength is obvious because it 'stands' a bit and doesn't flow out laterally as much, no longer touching the box's sides before it's time for the next S&F.  I also gently flip the dough over after each in-box S&F and try to gently round it up a little (can be hard if it's still sticky), as if starting bench rest.  That gives a nice starting point with which to compare the dough by the time the next scheduled S&F comes around (or is abandoned if dough is displaying sufficient stand-up strength to stop S&F-ing).  Certainly expert bakers don't need such a crutch, but I'm far from there yet.  Round-bottom bowls are less useful in this regard, as the upward curve of the bowl resists lateral dough spreading and thus easy monitoring of its acquired gluten formation/strength. 

Hope that helps a bit.

Tom

Patf's picture
Patf

for your excellent post.

I've been making bread for years and many times friends have asked me to give them a "recipe".  Which is almost impossible, because it's not as simple as that.

The dough seems to have a different texture and different needs every time I bake, there are so many variables.

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

I start out with the 3 S&Fs @ 45 minute intervals as learned from Mike's http://www.sourdoughhome.com/index.php?content=stretchandfold and then I adjust depending on what the dough is telling me.  Whereas a basic 4-ingredient (bread flour, water, salt & yeast) does great with 3@45, other breads "want" other intervals.  For example, I have a miscellaneous multi-grain in the oven right now that is fairly wet with a good deal of molasses in it.  The dough was very risen and developed after two cycles so: shape, last 20-30 minute proof, and into the oven it went.  When I make my yeast & whey rye, it only gets 2 S&F @ 60 minutes before shaping.

But for a newbie, I found 3 S&Fs at 45 minutes on a plain white bread finally showed me the development of dough.  Rather than needing to notice the subtle development of the dough during kneading, I left a ragged mass, and came back at 45 minute intervals to find a quite different animal each time.  And the fully developed dough was like nothing I had ever experienced in my previous efforts.  Beautiful, lofty, stretchy, silken ... ahhhh.