The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Question about coil folds

justkeepswimming's picture

Question about coil folds

I used coil folds for the first time yesterday, and realized there is a gap in my understanding: how often should stretch and folds or coil folds be done, and when during BF is optimal. Is it important to do them every 30 minutes? Three times, four times or? At the beginning of bulk but not after X? Or does the "when" really matter, as long as you do them and the dough still has time to react afterwards. I suspect you don't do coil folds right before shaping, but maybe? 

And I guess while I'm asking, how do you decide whether to do stretch and folds, coil folds, or slap and folds? Does hydration drive that decision, or something else? 

This community is so generous and helpful, your  input is always much appreciated! Thanks in advance. 

DanAyo's picture

Very good questions that are typical of many astute bakers that are struggling to learn and perfect their breads. As you continue to bake and try different techniques, experience will dictate how you handle a particular dough.

Realize this. When a baker publishes their recipe (formula and methods), they are trying their best to communicate with the goal of teaching another baker how to successfully bake their bread. But the fact is, it is not unusual for that author to change or tweak the recipe and the way they handle the dough according to their read and feel of that particular dough on that given day. Circumstances such as flour, temperature, humidity, starters, and other variables keep bread baking interesting. Try every technique that interest you and perfect the ones that seem the best. Experiment and keep a mental note of what you liked and didn’t. As you bake more your confidence will rise. Small errors or mishaps will be easily recoverable. Baking bread is an ancient art that satisfies the senses.

A few thoughts

  1. Fold the dough when it starts to relax and slacken up. But 30 minute intervals or so is fine.
  2. Remember the purpose of everything you do with your dough. Folding build strength.
  3. Stretch and folds are most common
  4. Coil Folds are more gentle and tends to degas less.
  5. Slap and Folds strengthen moderately wet doughs best.
  6. Folding that ceases earlier in the bulk ferment will leave more gas pockets in the dough.
  7. Folds that continue longer into the bulk ferment will produce a more uniform crumb.

The top list is not an absolute, but written to give you an idea of how things affect your dough.

Bake often and keep asking questions. We are here to help and enjoy seeing others excel. 


justkeepswimming's picture

Thank you so much, Dan, this is very helpful. I tend to be a conceptual thinker, rather than doing things a specific way only. If there is a reason to only do something one way, no problem, but I still want to know why. Learning, experimenting and discovering new things are all pieces of the joy of life for me overall, including in baking bread.

Thanks again, and will definitely ask questions as I go. 

Cellarvie's picture

Thank you justkeepswimming for asking this perceptive question.  And thank you Dan for your astute and succinct response.  I've been intuitively alternating my bulk dough handling depending on the dough, but with variable results because I hadn't thought it through. Got it now!  Thank you both.