The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Slap N Fold vs. Stretch N Fold

texasbakerdad's picture

Slap N Fold vs. Stretch N Fold

Simple test. Same difficult recipe, 4 loaves, 2 developed using slap-n-fold, and 2 developed with a combination of different gluten development strategies, mostly stretch and fold, but there was a lot of sleeping ferrets, some Texas twisters (made that one up), and the Rubaud.

Considering I am relatively new to high hydration doughs, I cannot say with certainty that I did any of the gluten development methods above correctly. I can confirm that I have made very well developed doughs by hand at 70% hydration and 100% bread flour (so you can conclude I am not totally inept).

This was my first time to use the slap-n-fold method. I avoided slap-n-fold like the plague, because it is messy, and my favorite baker, Trever Wilson, doesn't seem to need it. But... I haven't seen a video of him making a loaf of 100% hard red wheat at 100% hydration with NO added gluten. Maybe Trevor would have chosen slap-n-fold had he been forced to make the recipe below.

Recipe (made two separate batches):

600 g hard red whole wheat
600 g water
13 g salt
50 g 100% hydration rye leaven (primarily for flavor, not for leavening)
1 tsp commercial yeast (Instant)

Autolyse (30 minutes):

600 g whole wheat
600 g water 110 dF


13 g salt
50 g leaven
1 tsp yeast

Batch 1:

Stretch and fold/Sleeping Ferret/Rubaud depending on how dough was behaving. 7 sessions of that for 10 minutes each session, and 10 minute rests in between.

Above: The dough after 7 rounds of stretch-n-fold/sleeping-ferret/rubaud. Some gluten development, but, in general, a mess.

Batch 2:

150 slap-n-folds, executed 6 times, with 10 minute breaks in between. The 150 slap-n-folds usually took me 8 minutes per session. Followed by 2 stretch and fold sessions with 30 minute breaks. Then, preshape, 10 minute wait, then shaping, then proofing, then baking.

Above: After the 6th Slap-N-Fold Session and a 10 minute break. Windowpane!

Above: Look at how well those preshaped loaves are holding up. They didn't start slacking at all during the 10 minute bench rest.

Above: I loaded the loves onto a pizza stone and used a squirt bottle to spray water into the oven. I think this was very ineffective in allow the maximum oven bloom. They bloomed none-the-less, but, I think they could have bloomed quite a bit more.

Above: The crumb of the boule.

Above: The crumb of the non-pointy batard (is it still a batard if it is not pointy?).

Final Thoughts:

  • I wonder how much my unsealed wood counter absorbed water when doing the slap-n-fold. I could have been significant. To try and compare apples to apples, halfway through working the dough in batch 1, I started working it on the bench so that it too would loose some water. That did not improve the situation for batch 1 though.
  • Slap-n-fold works wonders. I think I could have gotten away with less than 6 sessions had I been more aggressive with my slapping, but still, it worked quite well. I am impressed.
  • 100% hydration dough needs something as effective as slap-n-fold, or you need to use a mechanical mixer. I am going to switch to a mixer for future 100% hydration doughs and save myself the mess and hassle, but, I am glad I got to do the process manually first.


leslieruf's picture

6 x 150 slap and folds? boy you have some stamina!  I have only done 220 per dough with no rest but on the 50:50 bake. 2 batards. that was hard work.  how did the development seem about half way? 

the crumb is nice - are you happy with it? 

if I remember correctly, you would need to do a long cool BF with a low % prefermented flour to get sufficient strength after the initial stretch and folds.  I am absolutely no expert so take my comments with a grain of salt, hopefully one of our resident gurus will set us all straight

Elsie_iu's picture

The easiest (while still effective) way I've found is using the double hydration approach.

Hold back 5-10% of water during the autolyse (10 minutes are plenty if the bran is soaked separately) and add it back with the leaven and salt. It never fails me and the gluten is always well-developed. 

No stretch and fold, slap and fold or kneading necessary. I don't even have to worry about the dough sticking to my hands or the ceiling :)

texasbakerdad's picture

Thanks for the idea! I have not truely played with double and triple hydration, I really should. I already had some experiences with no-knead gluten development that really surprised me. Also, I was expecting much better gluten development on batch 1 based off my past experiences. I usually do longer rests between the initial shaggy mix, and I often throw things in the fridge to slow everything down to match my schedule. I am thinking there is some secret combination of rests that will result in strong dough with little to no manual effort.

On a slightly different topic, I was reading Antilife's pizza thread and he says he doesn't do folds after mixing. He claims that if mixed properly, that is all you need to do. Off course, all of his doughs are retarded for a really long time. But, look at his pizza crust, they all have an awesome lacy crumb! That is without any folding after the mixing is complete. That makes me think that a lot of the folding that is going on is not really needed for crumb development, it is instead a way to build strength to compensate for how difficult it can be to build strength by hand.

texasbakerdad's picture

"the crumb is nice - are you happy with it?"

Yes and no. I love the crumb, but, I think there was more potential for the dough to rise. I think I would have had 20% more oven bloom had I done more than just spray the inside of the oven with a little bit of water.

"if I remember correctly, you would need to do a long cool BF with a low % prefermented flour to get sufficient strength after the initial stretch and folds.  I am absolutely no expert so take my comments with a grain of salt, hopefully one of our resident gurus will set us all straight"

I am going to have to look into that, because I don't really like the slap-n-fold. I am 95% sure I have already tried that and was able to get better dough strength than what I got in this experiment, but, nowhere near the dough strength I achieved from the slap-n-fold.

texasbakerdad's picture

"how did the development seem about half way?"

Good question. The dough obviously got better each slap-n-fold. About halfway I was tempted to stop because I had pretty good gluten development. But, I decided to keep going to see how good it would get. I saw minimal improvement from the 4th session to the 5th session, and no noticable improvement from the 5th session to the 6th session. I sort of had windowpane at the beginning of the 4th session, but, by the the end of the 6th, the dough was stronger enough to warrant the extra effort.

dabrownman's picture

use Mega Steam.  I spritz it before going a DO or with Maga Steam to get blisters.  Spritzing alone does not work at all for bloom or spring.  Both of these methods would have been so much better with proper steam for 20 minutes  at 450-460 F then 425 F Convection till the bread breads at least 208 F on the inside.

I'm pretty sure that I have done every kind of gluten development technique except the Sleeping Ferret /Texas Twister comdo. and always come back to slap and folds 300 in 20 minutes with a 5 minute wine break in between for a bread of this hydration.  Then maybe one more set for WW like this but i do not like doing them after the first half hour after mixing.  I do just enough of them, gentle, just to get the gluten back into shape every half hour, maybe 4-10 slaps, especially if the bran hasn't been softened in a bran levain for 36- 60 hours.  Or I just do stretch and folds.  You will do less each subsequent set.  Window pane probably will never happen with just stretch and folds in whole grain breads even at  100% hydration and getting the gluten perfect for whole grain breads is what makes them stand tall,  bloom and spring well.

I think the 2nd best way to get good gluten on a bread like this is a mixer for 10 minutes 10 minute rest and then 6 more minutes right off or Trevor's Rubaud  A white bread using bread flour or a good AP you can get decent enough gluten doing anything including the Peacock Strut, Spread and Fan and why no knead works so well doing nothing at all:-)

The most important thing for breads ike this is to get the bran fine and then broken down as much as possible in the lavain with a long retard.  Get the high extraction flour properly hydrated with an autolyse, get the guten to window pane,  get the bulk timing right for flavor, make sure the bread goes in the the oven at 85% max proof and use proper steam.  No different than any other bread except the proofing %..

I bet this one would have been perfect with proper steam if the proof was spot on!  It is good that you are finding out for yourself what works best for you and different kinds of breads.  There is no better way to become a fine bread maker.  Do it all every way possible, except that Peacock thing of Lucy's:-)  Nice job!

tx farmer was the best at getting gluten developed for breads like these or any other for that matter.  She was a fanatic about it and was always rewarded!

Happy baking