The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Shaping disaster

mihaicph's picture

Shaping disaster


I made tartine bread few times and every time it's a disaster for me with the final shaping part so i recorded it just to see if others stugle with the same thing.

Is your dough as sticky as mine ?


yy's picture

"Disaster" is too harsh! Your dough is sticky, but it doesn't look too far out of the ordinary for tartine bread. You could help your loaf stand up taller if you modify your final shaping to create more tension on the outer surface. The video linked below shows one way of shaping a high-hydration dough into a loaf.

mihaicph's picture

@yy looking at the video there is a difference, the dough in the video is 95% and mine is 75% (tartine recipe) but if you notice his dough does not stick to the dough cutter, i mean it sticks for a few seconds then it let's go. His dough should be even more sticky but seems more managable.

yy's picture

Does your dough seem to get stickier as it ferments? Also, how do you develop the gluten in the dough - Do you do any stretch-and-folds? 

mihaicph's picture

@yy no i doest feel like it. I do indeed do the turns and the dough feels good i mean i can stretch it and it holds. I have used an mixer for kneeding the dough.

dwfender's picture

It looks like the gluten in the second video is much more developed than the first. If you look at around 4:45 and you watch the guy stretch and fold, the dough still holds its shape pretty well. It doesn't spread and flatten all over the palce. He also does several stretch and folds during the entire process to get things to around where they need to be. 

The first video looks like the dough was brought together and allowed to sit and ferment without any movement. That's my guess. I would say that during the fermentation you stretch and fold the dough at least 3 or 4 times. Not sure if you've been doing that.

I think a lot of people, especially when working with higher hydration, feel they can't touch the dough during the bulk fermentation process. The truth is in almost every dough it is really necessary to do at least one stretch and fold during this time. It doesn't matter if the dough "doubles in volume" during the bulk fermentation. What matters is time and temperature. Stretching and folding won't let your dough double in volume, but it will build up the gluten and even out the fermentation temperatures across the dough. It will also give the yeasts just a bit more food to munch on while they can, which of course means more flavor. 

Why don't you post up your recipe and a brief description of your entire process and I can help encourage you in the right direction, and if I can't I'm sure one of the hundreds of talented people here will.


mihaicph's picture

@dwfender thank you for your reply, i do indeed do the folds, actually i am following the tartine recipe from the book. The only thing i can think of is my culture, the culture that i use was at the point of this "disaster" only 18days old, maybe it's not powerful enough to get the gluten working. Whats your opinion to that ?

yy's picture

Mihai, do you have photos of the crumb that you could post? There are many factors that could be affecting your bread. For example:

1. Your starter. If it is underfed, it may turn proteolytic, which causes it to break down some of the gluten structure. If your dough smells slightly sulfurous, and if it seems to get stickier the longer it sits, this may be happening. The starter is not responsible for "getting the gluten working," however, it can be responsible for reversing what you've done to help develop the gluten. 

2. Not enough stretch and folds. Sometimes the dough needs more stretch-and-folds than the directions tell you to do. You said that the dough felt good, so this is probably not the problem.

3. In your video, it seems like you are very timid with the dough. Wet doughs need to handled swiftly and with confidence. From your video, it looks like you were conservative in how much flour you used to dust - you can use a little bit more. Also, your shaping technique likely contributed to the sticking. You were tucking sides of the dough under, causing the sticky upper surface of the dough to come in contact with the bench. Try doing this:

-flour the bench well

-dump your dough on it

-flour the top of the douhg enough to prevent sticking, and pat it down gently to an even thickness.

-do a letter fold as if you are stretching and folding your dough. 

-do a second letter fold, perpendicular to the one you just did. 

-now flip this over, and do the tucking maneuver you did in your video to tighten the gluten sheath. 

Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

Robertson suggests flouring the surface of the dough before turning it out onto the counter, which puts a light layer of flour between the dough and the countertop.  When you use your dough divider to flip the dough over onto itself, the process is much easier and the flour stays on the OUTSIDE of the dough, which cuts down on sticking.  You can then divide the dough and preshape more easily this way. The previous poster suggested flouring the countertop before dumping the dough, which amounts to the same thing.  In your video (which was very helpful in trying to solve your problem, by the way) you continue to flour the top of the dough and then fold the flour in on itself, where it isn't doing you any good at all.  Keep at it! You're on the right track, but you need to incorporate some stretch and folds in the final process to give your loaves some surface tension so that they will hold their shape and rise during baking.

indiesicle's picture

if you're not doing so. King Arthur bread flour works very well and is around 12.7% protein I think. The Tartine formula calls for 'white flour' but if you're having problems BF will help. Higher protein flour absorbs more water. Also it develops better. I make this bread almost every day at around 82 - 86% hydration. It's still sticky but it's a different kind of sticky if properly developed if that makes sense. As a side note just stick with the metal bench knife and use it in a fast, decisive down motion to minimize sticking. It gets easier and proper development coupled with bread flour will turn it around for you. Hope this helps.


eddieh70301's picture

I'm new and my comments may not be what would work for you. I just received Ken Forkish's book and made his 80% biga dough. The actual hydration is 75% and it was very wet. I had to perform 4 stretch and folds to get the dough to even begin to hold it's shape. I probably could have done another one or two. It was the first time I made a dough with this much hydration.

It looks like you could have done a couple of stretch and folds. There is another technique called the slap and fold by Richard Bertinot. it's pretty interesting and I think I will give it a try next time just to compare to stretching and folding.

Good Luck.