The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The purpose of stretch-and-fold

Laura T.'s picture
Laura T.

The purpose of stretch-and-fold

Hi all. JUst a quick one and I'm sure many of you will be able to give me the answer to this, but what exactly is the purpose of s&f? I'm wondering if it is just to stretch the gluten, etc or if it serves another purpose? The reason being, I am curious as to whether s&f would add anything to my gluten-free baking.

yamum360's picture

Someone correct me if I'm wrong,  but I believe kneading is what stretches the gluten, or rather helps the gluten to develop and form a nice elastic stringyness. The stretch and fold is to align the strands of gluten to give your dough more structure, and the desired crumb.

If your dough doesnt contain any gluten, I wouldn't bother

LindyD's picture

Folding will also degas the dough and equalize dough temperature by bringing the warmer outside of the dough into the center.   Presuming you are using yeast, certainly worth a try.

lazybaker's picture

This morning I watched on youtube, "Baking with Julia" with guest baker Steve Sullivan. He said folding the dough was to re-distribute the yeast, so the yeast can find available food. 

Syd-a's picture

In my limited experience and knowledge I also think stretch and folds are a way to work with very high hydrated doughs that are almost unkneadable. It is a quick easy technique that stretches the dough, helps to work the gluten and improve the stability of the dough. Each time I do it or the very low knead method with light kneads for 10 seconds and 10 minute pauses I am always amazed at how each time the dough is more and more manageable.


uncle goosehead's picture
uncle goosehead

No gluten means nothing to develop.  I have experimented since our daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (means gluten is essentially poisonous to her).  The best idea seems to be a thorough mixing at the start and additional kneads or folds only if the loaf is misshapen.  It does tend to be moister which means a folding type of method might work better than kneading, but I haven't found it so.  

Frankly, flatbreads are more satisfactory in our experience.  Nothing equals or approximates gluten. 

Laura T.'s picture
Laura T.

I also have coeliac disease so I know it is hard! I'm quite experienced at gf breads and have had good results with plenty of normal-type breads. I was just curious as to whether the s&f had any useful finction.

Just wondering, have you used psyllium in your gf baking for your daughter? It's amazing at helping to form boules, etc.

uncle goosehead's picture
uncle goosehead

We don't use psyllium - haven't yet.  Generally some ground flax, grind it myself, and tapioca, both seem to help with texture and crumb.  I've also cooked lentils or chickpeas and mashed them before putting them into dough.  Gives moisture and texture.  I've told the family that they must compare gluten free to gluten free, and not to wheat/gluten bread.  It is a bit of a switch

dabrownman's picture

and folds to 2 reasons.  Since I develop gluten using slap and folds for almost all of mu breads, i use stretch and folds during counter fermenting.   To fold in and evenly distribute the add ins like scalds, nuts and seeds and to maintain the gluten development I had before the stretch and folds.

barryvabeach's picture

According to Hamelman in his book Bread,  he states that while a mixer develops the gluten, the process  also oxidizes the dough and degrades its taste.  He purposely undermixes his dough in a mixer and uses the stretch and fold to develop the dough without over oxidizing it.  Slap and fold is a different technique than the stretch and fold which is pretty gentle.