The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


BarbaraNaugle's picture


For the life of me, I cannot get my dough to shift from the rise to the ball. I stretch, I tuck, I use my pinkies to urge the shape, but to no avail. ANY suggestions/solutions?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

dough fits the discription.  Too much water in the dough could also fit.  Have you tried chilling the dough to stiffen it up?  

What's the recipe?  Location? 

pmccool's picture

visit Mark Sinclair's (mcs) YouTube channel.  Some of the videos are focused solely on shaping, others happen to show shaping incidentally.  Lots of good pointers either way.


Dan_In_Sydney's picture

Speaking as quite the amateur, I have found that the truly important part is sufficient gluten development.

Other factors - like working with a chilled dough - can be considered aids. (Which is not to discount that advice - I use it myself depending on the dough!)

The way I think of it is that the initial hydration and mixing helps gluten (as a mixture of gliadin and glutenin) to form. The development that you do through kneading and slaps and folds and so forth brings that gluten into the form of a network. The subsequent bulk fermentation, where you leave the dough to its devices, further helps provide extra gluten strength potential and then, when it comes time for the pre and final shape, you are essentially performing a short set of increasingly specific kneading which doesn't just strengthen the gluten but also utilises al the developed potential and forms it into the specific shapes.

If you've seen The Karate Kid (and why wouldn't you have?!) then you might recall the whole wax-on-wax-off, paint-the-fence, sand-the-deck scenes, which culminate in Daniel learning that those motions built the muscle memory and technique that then needed just a bit of modification to be turned into karate blocking motions.

Well, I suppose I am saying that the development and the shaping of dough it like that - you build up all that potential and then harness that when you shape.

Just remember: left hand circle; right hand circle.

Or something.

Briancoat's picture

My idea would be to start with a safe baseline.

1. Feed the starter twice so it is nice and active.

2. Use white flour at least 12% protein. Bran is a gluten slasher so leave out for now.

3. Use only 60-65% hydration.

4. Do not leave it to rise so long that the acidity over-weakens the gluten. When this happens, the dough tastes very acidic and goes slacker that when you kneaded/stretched it.

5. Fridge rise always helps. Stiffer.

These settings using your current recipe will not give a super-open crumb but they are virtually guaranteed to be shape-able and will produce a perfectly edible “baseline” loaf.

Once you are cranking out loaves you can dial up the moisture, add some brown flour and other high wire feats😁

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

us about the dough. Is it a dough made with yeast or is it a sourdough?