The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

stretch and fold and bubbles

kendalman's picture

stretch and fold and bubbles


The strengthening technique that we call ‘stretch and fold’ is really short of two additional words ‘and pin’.
Pin as in pinning to the floor so you are immobilized.

Think of a length of broken elastic band.  Imagine fixing one end to a surface. With the other end loose you can move it around at will.... No sign of any strength there.  Now stretch the band from the loose end and fix the end of the stretched length  (using pins).  You can push the stretched band to the side but whenever you release it it returns to its original stretched position.  You have given the band strength to always try to return to its original position.  You have made the band ‘stronger’ .

When you fold the dough the stretched surface binds to the undersurface that has not been stretched. The result is that both the stretched dough and the dough it is attached to become pulled together and try to keep their shape when you handle the dough. This ‘trying to keep their shape’ is described as the dough getting stronger.

But that is only part of the story, the other part is the role of the gas bubbles in the dough.  Think of a balloon and what happens if you prod it with a finger end.  You distort the surface into a concave depression that disappears when you remove your finger.  That is an example of pinning.  The balloon did not want to change its shape any more than the gas bubbles developing in dough.  So if you can distort the bubbles in your dough that makes the dough a lot stronger.  It may not be possible in traditional strengthening but it certainly is possible using a kendal roll that works on small volumes of a log of dough at a time.  Not only does the bubble distortion produce strengthening but as the bubbles grow they pin the surrounding gluten strands that have had to stretch to accommodate the bubble.... Never mind the strands being forced to stretch even more when the bubbles change shape!

The end result from my point of view is I can turn 790g of kneaded dough in the rough shape of a 9 inch long stick about 2 inches diameter, into a log 12 to 15 inches long over 4 inches high and 7-8 inches across the base in a total time of less than three hours using just one kendal roll for my strengthening technique, it takes about one minute to do.   Do see the photo in my Christmas eve topic -’a new folding technique’.  The commercial artisan loaves in my area are considerably smaller loaves and are 800g.

So If you are a no knead enthusiast, the gradual development, overnight, of dough strength is a combination of  the gluten strength naturally improving and the pinning action of your gas bubbles.

Well I suppose that will get some comments.