The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Video tutorial: Shaping a sandwich loaf

JMonkey's picture

Video tutorial: Shaping a sandwich loaf

Here's a video that I put together this weekend on how to shape, slash and bake a sandwich loaf. Nothing too hard, but it gave me a great excuse to play around with iMovie. Fun!

I hope you all enjoy the video. Here's a link. Hopefully, it'll show up as an embedded video soon.

titus's picture

Thanks for that video, JMonkey! Shaping is really an Achilles heel for me.

I have a couple of questions:

1. Do the ends of the loaf need to be touching the ends of the pan?

2. How do you prevent your whole wheat dough from ripping when it is being shaped? This is a constant problem for me.

The whole wheat flour available here in Lux is coarsely ground, which is OK with me, but even when I have sifted out some of the bran, my dough always rips when shaping into a sandwich loaft shape. Any suggestions?

Susan's picture

I very much enjoyed your video, especially seeing little Iris. What a doll she is! Keep 'em coming!


JMonkey's picture

Glad you liked the video. It was fun to put together. I imagine I'll be doing some more.

1. Do the ends of the loaf need to be touching the ends of the pan?

Not necessarily. The loaf will expand to fit the pan, but you want to try to get the ends as close to the edge of the pan as possible. If it's too long, fold the ends under and then roll the loaf back and forth while moving your hands from side to side to even it out. Likewise, if the loaf is too short, just roll and stretch gently, as described above.

2. How do you prevent your whole wheat dough from ripping when it is being shaped? This is a constant problem for me.

The whole wheat flour available here in Lux is coarsely ground, which is OK with me, but even when I have sifted out some of the bran, my dough always rips when shaping into a sandwich loaft shape. Any suggestions?

I know that European flours are generally weaker than American flours, so that might be the problem. If you can find hard spring wheat (red or white will do), that's what you're looking for. If not, try soaking mixing up the basic dough (flour, water, salt) overnight without the yeast, sourdough or pre-ferment and let it sit to soak overnight. Conversely, it may not be well developed enough. If that's the case, make sure you're kneading about 300 strokes per loaf.

If all else fails, you can add vital wheat gluten. Start small -- say 10-20 grams to start with, and experiment. You don't want too much, or the loaf will taste ... cardboardy? But it can make a big difference in the strength of your dough.

Hope this helps.
titus's picture

Thanks, JMonkey for your great advice; I appreciate it.

No chance of me finding hard spring wheat locally, so I'll try the soaking method and take care that I'm kneading enough.

Thanks again for your help! I look forward to you making more videos, as you *are* the whole wheat bread guru ("We're not worthy!").

BostonJohn's picture

Would you have any videos on how to fold?/





ehanner's picture

Dear Aurora,

Tell your Dad he did a great job in the video and that you will use him again in the future. Everybody knows that the star is the one with the most face time. You are a very pretty girl and I'm sure you will grow up to be a famous Baker like your Dad.

A Fan

JMonkey's picture

... I should have been clearer in the video, though. Iris is my daughter. Aurora is my wife. Actually, I sometimes mix up the names myself, especially when I'm tired. Drives Aurora nuts.

ehanner's picture


I had just figured that out and I do the same thing. My apologies to both of them!

From what I have seen I think there is a great value in "How To" videos. So much of being able to achieve success is based on knowing what things are supposed to feel and look like along with the handling of the dough. The old adage of a picture's worth a thousand words applies in spades to a good video. You seem to be good at it and I hope you make a library that Floyd will host and make searchable as part of the training lessons.


Srishti's picture

Thanks so much JMonkey for making the video... That would definitely help me a lot...

tigressbakes's picture

thanks Jmonkey that video was great.

I really do need to work on shaping and getting surface tension.

i library of videos would be great! 

newbiebaker's picture

nice video... would you mind posting a recipe for it?

JMonkey's picture

Sure. Here's how I usually make mine:

  • 420 grams ripe whole wheat starter at 60% hydration
  • 615 grams whole wheat flour
  • 545 grams skim milk
  • 28 grams or 2 Tbs butter
  • 63 grams or 3 Tbs honey
  • 18 grams or 1 Tbs salt

The night before I refresh my sourdough starter in one bowl and mix up the rest of the flour, the milk and half the salt in another. The next morning, I chop everything up, add the rest of the salt and the honey, and then knead it for about 8 minutes or so. I then cut the butter into pats and knead it into the dough until it's incorporated.

I form the dough into a ball, put it in a clean bowl and then cover it. It ferments at room temperature (about 68 degrees F) for 4 hours. I usually fold it once during the bulk fermentation.

Once it's risen and passes the finger-poke test (i.e. a good poke with a wet finger doesn't spring back), I divide the dough in two and pre-shape each into a batard. While the dough rests, I grease two pans with a mixture of 2 parts canola oil to 1 part soy lecithin that I keep in the fridge (it's easy and cheap, and I never have to worry about running out like I always did with the spray oil -- idea comes from The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book). I then shape the loaves and let them rise for about 2.5 hours at 85 degrees F.

Slash and bake in a steamed oven at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes until done.
pumpkinpapa's picture

What type of whole wheat do you use? Is it red or white wheat? Red is spring and white is winter. I've had a hard time with red whole wheat making nice hard door stops :(

JMonkey's picture

For bread, I use hard red spring wheat. I like the taste of red wheat for bread -- the white has a ... chalky? waxy? I dunno ... taste that I don't like too much. I use soft white winter wheat for muffins, waffles and other quickbreads.

What brand of whole wheat flour are you using? I grind my own, but the best bagged flour I've found on the East Coast is King Arthur.

pumpkinpapa's picture

I have been using Presidents Choice (store brand) and Millbrook organic red whole wheat flour but have also started with Milanaise organic white whole wheat flour. I can't get King Arthur except through mail order, and the border is iffy some times for flours, I could drive it across but the mail is odd.

I was hoping it was the flour that caused the dense loaves but I think I just need to practice more. And practice more with smaller batches instead of these 15 pound batches I've been doing of late.

Whole wheat is a lot less forgiving of longish fermentation times I think, or perhaps it's too dry in my house? 

JMonkey's picture

Yeah, I'd say go a little smaller with the batches. I can't imagine how long you'd have to knead to develop the gluten for 15 lbs of dough. Chances are, it's not getting developed. For a 2-loaf batch, after soaking all the flour either in the starter or a soaker overnight, I still knead for 8-10 minutes to get it to the point where it windowpanes nicely.

Why so much bread? Man, I'd love to be able to make batches that large, but I'd have no where to put it. My freezer is tiny ...

pumpkinpapa's picture

I do big batches of Struan and it gets bought up by neighbours within 24 hours. I really heat up mixing/kneading for 15-20 minutes, a good sweat breaks. It windowpanes fine in 20 minutes. Same for Ciabatta, Focaccia, and that Potato/Chive/Cheddar recipe from the BBA, mmm good bread!

My freezer is full of ingredients and about 10 Pane Siciliane loaves, and a bag of raw sheep's wool ;)

I am getting back into 1-2 loaf batches until I figure out the WW dilemna.

audra36274's picture

It was nice to see the way your roll up the loaf to create tension, which is completely different than what I do. I also have my "good help", in the kitchen. Emily is 4 and loves bread dough a lot more than PlayDough! Her little brother is one and wants to do everything his big sister does, including play in the dough. We have lots of fun here, and I can see your family does as well.  A lot of my friends children are off every waking minute to this or that activity, and they roll their eyes about our bread making fun! But you know, they never turn down fresh bread!  Your making memories jmonkey, for both you and your daughter. Keep up the good work. And we really did enjoy the video. Thank you for sharing it with us.


zolablue's picture

So nice of you to take the time to do this.  I love watching these types of videos.  Your daughter is a darling little girl.  I bet she loves to help and she will have such fond memories of watching you make bread.  How cool that your efforts are being captured on video for her to treasure one day as well.

KipperCat's picture

Wish I'd watched this about 15 minutes ago! It didn't occur to me to do a preshaping, rest and final shaping, and I've got 2 (white) sandwich loaves in the pan right now. Many thanks for doing this.

 ps I'm so glad you mentioned wetting the bench knife and your hands for the shaping.  I always forget I can do this, and end up working in more flour than necessary.

cordel's picture

I am so happy to have seen this. I have been making white rolls and bread for many years but this is my first year attempting sour dough. Watching the way you first folded to get the batards,and then used the table to keep surface tension answered many of my frustrations about shaping breads and even rolls. While I did preshape rest and final shape that was based on what my mother did making white bread, not on anything that was ever explained. Having watched many videos this last couple of weeks, I am just amazed that anything I made ever turned out.

Thank you for the video. Your daughter is adorable.

JMonkey's picture

I'm so glad the sandwich shaping video was helpful! Credit where credit's due, though, the batard shaping video is actually Floyd's -- and an excellent video it is. It taught me to shape a batard.

Janedo's picture

Great video. It is definitely a plus to be able to actually see someone doing it. I copied the recipe too

Love to see more!


berryblondeboys's picture

This was so helpful. I was just coming online to find out why my sandwich bread didn't always turn out the way I want, and I saw this and right now I have two loaves that look JUST like these - yay! Thank you!


Aprea's picture

JMonkey - I was just watching your tutorial and would like to try this recipe.  My question is what you actually do the night before - the dough you mix up - does it include the whole wheat starter at that point?  Do you retard overnight in refridge, or autolyse at room temperature?


Thank you - Anna

JMonkey's picture

I generally just make it straight these days, but when I retard it, i usually wait until the dough is shaped and then put it in the fridge or a cool room.

afjagsp123's picture

Great! For the first time, my whole wheat is turning out very un-bricklike. :)

xaipete's picture

That's a nice video and what a cute little girl!


crazyknitter's picture

That video was great!! 

I hope more people do more videos.   I agree on the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.  

And I agree - great idea to have your daughter the star of the show!  too cute!!


I am not new to making whole wheat bread.  I have been doing it for years, but I have been learning on my own.   So, I am not familiar with bread baking terminology.  Can someone tell me what surface tension is?


mrfrost's picture

Surface tension means, as you are shaping the loaf, you want the suface of the dough to be nice, smooth, and somewhat "tight". This seems to make the loaf act sort of like a "balloon". The gases produced by the yeast are better contained, giving the loaf a better chance at acheiving a maximum rise.

Somewhat hard to explain and understand, but it works.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

At one point you commented, "It's not an artisan loaf, it's just a sandwich bread".

You're the artisan, not the bread.  If you make it, it is an artisanal loaf.  Whether it's baked in a pan in your easybake oven or as a free form load in an 800 year old retained heat, wood fired, stone oven.  Whether it is made from white flour and yeast, or a 250 year old sourdough starter and heritage bolted wheat flour.

If the bread was a pan de mie, or a pullman loaf, you wouldn't make that qualification.  Your bread is no less the product of an artisan!

So - please - don't apologize for your bread or belittle it.  If you make it, it's an artisanal loaf!



MangoChutney's picture

This method worked really well for me, for developing tension in the surface layer of gluten.  I was using another method which involved making a log and pushing each side towards the loaf while letting the opposite side stick to the counter.  It made okay loaves, but I never got the feeling that the surface was particularly tight.  I never had to slash the loaves I shaped that way.  I sure should have slashed the one I made today, by this method!  Thanks for demonstrating the method so well.

heavyhanded's picture

Thank you so much for this how-to. I've watched it several times and am watching it again as I am making some potato sandwich bread.



Donkey_hot's picture


Thank you for sharing.  Your little girl is so adorable! 

Was that a hearth insert in your oven?  If so, please elaborate on this.

Thank you.



theresasc's picture

and found your video last night - what a wonderful thing it was to find!  I have my first two pans of sandwich bread, the honey whole-wheat found here on the site, raising and actually looking like bread.  Your video has perfect instructions on how to form a nice loaf - thanks!

Theresa in S.E. Wisconsin

tmitchell71's picture



Great video. I've just started on my bread baking journey. My question is what loaf pans are you using in the videos?


Thanks for your help.

JMonkey's picture

Glad the video was helpful! I've been using the same 8.5"x4.5" Chicago Metallic pans for almost a decade, and they still work great. But I've used Pyrex pans of that same shape, too, and the bread came out fine. Good luck!