The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Stretch and folds

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Stretch and folds

A word about gentle stretch and folds.  From my experience , higher hydration doughs seem to benefit from more heavy handed stretch and folds.  It seems if I'm too gentle with my 73% hydration dough, I end up with lax dough which is harder to shape and score and is  sticky and doesn' t retain its shape . And has poorer oven spring.  My gentle technique is to lift the dough out of the bowl with both hands and hold it underneath with my fingers and let gravity pull the dough down. let the dough fold onto itself, rotate then repeat 3-4x.  My dough never seems to be extensible enough to get the same amount of stretch as the first time.  I assume it's my type of flour?   My rougher technique is to pull the dough out of the bowl with one hand , fold it over with quite a bit of force , turn the bowl and repeat 5-6 times.  Can anyone weigh in with their experiences?  Does what I'm saying make any sense?  

phaz's picture
phaz

Plenty of sense. But, that's if you think s&f actually does something. Understandable as that is the accepted norm - and so wrong, as you've found. Keep kneading - that's what is called when you s&f a hundred times or so. Enjoy! 

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Hmmm.  I guess those "rough" s and f's is actually kneading.   You know how they say you should be gentle with stretch and folds otherwise you will degas the dough.  Well, does that really matter when in that 2 or so hour time frame , not that much gas forms anyway.  Besides so what if you degas it. I would think most of the gas formation would be during the 10 or so hours of bulk fermentation.  

phaz's picture
phaz

Any manipulation of the dough can be considered kneading - question is - what is the effect of that particular manipulation on the dough. In the case of s&f, little enough to be considered none. Same for its effect on "structure".

What "they" say - i guess they forgot what a leavening agent does - if ya let it do its thing (which by the way, cold does not). 

Get a handle on the fundamentals (there's only like 4 or 5). Then you'll get an idea of how things work. And then it gets real easy! Enjoy! 

Ps - here's good advice - beware public forums. While there may be good info, there's usually a lot that's not. 

1 more ps - learn the fundamentals and you'll know which category this falls into! 

Rock's picture
Rock

I learned the stretch and fold technique when I was pretty young and have use it as a home baker since the mid 1970's, If you are used to doing it, a 70 to 75% hydration dough is not a problem. I do a series of 4 stretch and folds every 20 minutes for an hour before going to bulk ferment, leaving the dough on the bench for the stretch and fold period.

I use a mixer for my dough but not for gluten development, just a 3 minute mix to incorporate the ingredients, I have lots of pictures but I don't know how many I can post so I'll just try to give an idea of dough development using this method. Dough is 60% KABF 40% KAWW at about 70% hydration.

Dave

mixer

1sty

final

ferment

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Thanks for the pictures Dave.  I don't mind doing stretch and folds, it's just that for a high hydration dough doing 4 sets of gentle ones,  half an hour apart isn't building a strong enough dough for me.  I have to more like knead it for 4 sets half an hour apart. Like be more rough with it.   I really do enjoy kneading more than stretch and folds.   By the 4th set my dough is no longer sticky and slack when I knead instead of doing gentle s and fs.  Maybe your s and fs aren't gentle?

Rock's picture
Rock

I think if the kneading is working for you then stick with it.

I've noticed over the years watching video on line and TV demos that the idea of stretch and fold has become less aggressive in nature, probably because of the much higher hydration doughs and no-knead style doughs.

The older style of more aggressive stretch and fold is meant to develop gluten (which can happen with or without dough manipulation) and also to align gluten strands. This will in fact allow the dough to hold more liquid. Something you notice with your kneading process. You can also see an over mixed dough becoming sticky because the gluten is breaking down and releasing liquid.

Like I said, stick with your method of dough development as long as you produce what you are after. You are correct that my stretch and fold technique is pretty aggressive. I learned to do it that way when working with large tubs of dough.

Dave

phaz's picture
phaz

Kneading is good for the soul, but being a kneader myself, i might be biased. Enjoy!