Step 8: Shape and Proof

Now, the dough has fermented for four hours. It will have expanded and will likely have a yeasty odor. This is good. Lightly flour the surface that you would like to use for shaping and move the dough from the bowl onto that surface. You will notice bubbles have formed and that the dough is quite loose and elastic.

Often, bakers will divide the dough and form it into a round pieces, called a preshape, and let it rest for awhile before they move to the final shaping phase. For a small amount of dough like this that step is unnecessary.

So, get a knife, divide your dough into two equal pieces and shape them into loaves. There are many different formed that can be created when hand shaping bread. The two pictures are the batard and the boule .

A batard is an elongated, vaugely football-shaped loaf of bread. It can be shaped by stretching the dough out, folding in the sides, and rolling it up into the batard shape. The two folds of bread that create the seam are pressed together against the shaping surface to fuse it shut. The batard is then placed seam-side down on a lightly floured baking tray.

A boule is the easiest shaping technique to learn. It is the simple round shape. One method to shaping is to fold the sides under and to push the middle outward as if you are feeding the edges of the dough into a sack. When the sack is getting full (if the surface tears it is too full!) the edges of the mouth of the sack are brought together. Traditionally, the seam-side is then placed down on a board and the loaf is quickly rotated. The slight sticking of the dough to the wood eventually fuses the seams together and the loaf is shaped. I have very large hands so I actually pinch the seam closed with a rotating motion using the palm of my hand.

There are two mistakes easily made when shaping a loaf of bread. The first is to degass the bread. The primary fermentation has built up all these lovely bubbles, do not force them out of the bread! Be as gentle as possible with the dough in this step because the gas suspended there will help to achieve a good rise during baking. The best way to avoid this is to not press down on the dough.
The second mistake is to lose tension of the dough during shaping. This is a bit difficult to explain but, imagine if you were wrapping a rubber cord around a pencil. You would get nowhere if you let go of it frequently to get a better position for winding. It is the same with shaping the loaf. When you have folded the dough and are getting ready to roll it up for a batard, do not let go of the dough! Keep a hand on it to maintain the tension or your loaf will sag and flow outward. It will end up being flat and very wide. A tightly-shaped loaf will remain tall and nearly identical to the form you create when shaping it.

In bakeries, baskets covered with floured linen are often used to allow the bread to "proof" or undergo the secondary fermentation. This object is called a couche and is very nice for certain purposes but unnecessary here.

What we will do is place the shaped loaves seam-side down onto a lightly floured baking pan. Make sure to allow a lot of space between the loaves, they are going to grow. Cover the loaves in floured plastic wrap, or another damp cloth. Keep them at room temperature and allow the loaves to rise for two hours. Try to disturb them as little as possible.

Note: When some people think of sourdough, they want a very sour taste to their bread. This recipe is not designed to have a very sour taste, but a very complex flavor. If you want to have an even tangier loaf there is an easy way to achieve this at this step. Wrap up your loaves very tightly and immediately put them in the refrigerator. Leave them there for 24 hours. When that time is up take them out and proceed with the instructions as normal.
Why this makes the dough more sour is that bacterial metabolisms operate better at lower temperatures than those of bread yeasts do. So, when you refrigerate the dough the yeast slows down to a crawl and the bacteria slows down to a slow walk. The bacteria in the culture are what produce the acidity so the yeast have been effectively put on hold while the bacteria have some time to produce the acids. When the dough comes back to room temperature the yeast start working faster than the bacteria again to produce gasses. However, the bacteria had the chance to produce all the tang that is the feature of some sourdough breads, but were able to do so without the bread overproofing.

<p>Thanks for the recipe, the pictures look amazing. Unfortunately when I try to replicate it I am running into a couple of issues. Firstly after kneading (vigorously) for 20 minutes or so the dough is still sticky and if I give up at that point and let it rise it is too sticky after the hour or so resting period to form into a batard or boulle. The second, no doubt related, issue is if I &quot;pour&quot; my attempt at a formed boulle into a cast iron dutch oven of an appropriate size the bread comes out looking pretty but is incredibly dense and heavy. This is regardless of the type of flour used. (I have tried several times with different flour mixtures including one of all white unbleached bread flour with similar results). Any ideas of where I am going wrong?</p>
<p>Hello!</p><p>This recipe makes bread that is much more dense than store bought bread, or even a baguette, but it sounds like yours might be even more dense than expected. Dense bread can be caused by not enough gas being formed, or not enough gluten being present. Since it sounds like you are kneading thoroughly and have used many different flours, I will guess it is your sourdough culture. You could try the same recipe but add a small amount of commercial yeast as &quot;insurance&quot; and see how that turns out. Even if your sourdough culture hasn't yet developed a lot of yeasts, it still probably has many bacteria that will make your bread more acidic.<br><br>As for the dough being too sticky, you could try mixing it, giving </p><p>the dough a 20 minute autolyse (rest period), then continuing kneading. This helps the flour absorb the water more fully so the dough is less sticky. Of course, you may just have to add more flour! My recipes are always very wet because flour varies a lot in moisture content. So I assume my flour is going to be very dry. <br><br>If the flour is very fresh or moist you will have to add more of it because there is too much water. It could just be that you have access to very fresh flour so your dough comes out too wet.</p>
<p>Hi there</p><p>Do you use a shiny or dark baking sheet?</p><p>Thanks.</p>
<p>Hello!<br><br>I use a beaten up old aluminum baking sheet. I also have a stone, which is what I prefer to use. </p>
Hi there, why do you specifically state not to make a starter with pineapple juice? Also, I grew up in NH and Market Basket is near and dear to my heart!
Hello! <br> <br>A lot of people insist on making a starter with pineapple juice. I do not really understand why, but the &quot;lore&quot; is that without pineapple juice the starter will never work and be filled with too many bacteria (or something to this effect). I think this is bunk and have never used pineapple juice, it could contain growth-inhibiting preservatives (canned/bottled) or unwanted enzymes (fresh/raw). <br> <br>I get a great rise and excellent flavor with just flour and water. Every really great sourdough bakery I have encountered has just used flour and water, so I am inclined to think the pineapple juice is unnecessary at best.
Hello there,<br>I see the ingredients but i don't see their respective amounts!!<br>Can you please tell us how much of each ingredient we need to add?!!<br>Thanks,<br>Mike :)
Hey Mike, <br> <br>Step 11 has ingredient amounts and summary of the recipe. Here it is(although it is in volume, not baker's percentage): <br> <br>Here is a summary of all the steps, and the ingredients, for quick reference. <br> <br> <br>Rye Levain <br>1 cup Rye Starter <br>1 cup Rye Flour <br>1/2 cup Water <br> <br>Bread <br>All of Rye Levain <br>3 cups of Water <br>1/2 cup Rye Flour <br>7 1/2 cups Bread Flour <br>1 Tablespoon of Salt <br> <br> <br>Make levain, let age overnight. <br>Build levain, adding all remaining whole grains. <br>Mix and knead, 10-15 minutes. <br>Primary fermentation, 4 hours. <br>Divide and shape. <br>Secondary fermentation, 2 hours. <br>Bake at 400F/230C for 20 minutes <br>Reduce heat to 400F/200C and bake for 20 minutes. <br>Cool.
what would i do if my dough is really runny as in it wont hold its shape? should i add more flour? because when ever i make sourdough it turns very runny even if my water is 65%. and can anyone explain why it does that?
Hey,<br><br>There are various reasons that your dough might become too runny. One reason is that flours, depending on brand, type, age, and how it was harvested have different moisture levels. I have had the experience of getting used to using a &quot;dry&quot; flour only to have things suddenly turn very wet when I buy new flour.<br><br>Sometimes a runny dough is also caused by poor gluten development. Here are some ways that you might get your bread to have more structure:<br><br>Autolyse. Give your bread a 15 minute period after mixing and a few kneads to absorb water and develop gluten before you start kneading. This will make your dough firmer.<br><br>Knead. You might just need to develop more gluten, if you knead your bread for eight minutes try kneading it for 15. The more elastic your dough becomes, the better structure it will have. <br><br><br>Also, your shaping technique might be an issue. If a loaf is shaped loosely it will spread out quite a bit. With the proper shaping technique, you will have sealed the seam well and created a lot of surface tension on the outside of the dough. When I first made bread it would usually spread out quite a bit, once I learned how to shape more tightly I have noticed there is very little spreading.
well i guess ill make it again and see what happens, because i make my breads by feel, i feel when there is too much water or too little flour and salt, and also i test if my kneading is done that when i poke it if it springs back the way i like then i consider it done. or it could be my starter, my starter is a whole wheat natural starter i wanted to use rye but its really expensive around 6-7 bucks a kilo so i settled for whole wheat, i replaced all the rye in the recipe with whole wheat and followed the recipe as usual
Wow! Sorry to hear rye is so expensive in your area. After some searching I found a grocery store that sells it for about 80 cents a pound so it is affordable for me. There is a local discount grocery called Market Basket in New Hampshire that has decent prices for it. Surprisingly, you can even find good rye flour in some Wal-mart stores.<br><br>I used to keep both a whole wheat and a rye starter and I never noticed too many differences between them. The more rye you use, the less gluten you will have which also effects structure. So using whole wheat shouldn't have caused any trouble. Although now that I think about it, some of the coarser whole wheat flours have large particles in them that can interrupt gluten strands and reduce dough elasticity, because the strands of gluten can't get as long. If you have access to King Arthur brand White Whole Wheat flour I have noticed that it is milled quite finely, this could make things easier. <br>It also sounds like you know what you're doing when it comes to hydration and kneading.<br><br>So perhaps next time you could try shaping it a bit differently. Make sure there is a lot of surface tension in the dough, and seal the seam VERY well, making sure to place the loaf seam-side-down. <br><br>Good luck!
thanks! and im not in the USA so anywhere you can suggest is out of the question and also have you seen this kneading technique? <br>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvdtUR-XTG0<br>it is very useful for very wet dough so as to decrease excess flour additions this is actually what i used when i made a 80% hydration dough its really good so try it!
I have actually used that technique many times! It is excellent for developing gluten. I don't usually do it when anyone else is home; I have never been able to convince my roommates that it is a common technique, they just think I am crazy.<br><br>So how is your baking going these days?
well my baking has improved especially my shaping and scoring techniques. but unfortunately my starter got orange and moldy on me and my attempts to make a new one are going bad but it just might be i'm trying a stiff starter maybe i'll stick to batter starters loaves are better all i'm missing is a nice big oven. i only have a oven toaster right now and it can barely take a 400g flour bread with good oven spring without burning the top.
and by the way i forgot to mention this but if i remember correctly the acidity in the starter especially tenacious starters(like mine) the acidity can break down the gluten strands that is why and right now i just made this recipe again after an hour of the first fermentation of my nicely kneaded dough it became very soft and quite runny and so i had to knead it again -__- and i don't know why (note i used 1 cup of whole wheat and 7 cups of bread flour) i really think that it is my starter because when i first started it, it came to life on the 3 day!! so i think i have really tenacious bacteria in there.
Sunset Cookbook is a treasure trove of delightful info about Cal cooking and history.<br><br>It says that Le Boudin's starter, started and kept alive since 1850 has a species of Lactobacillis, unlike any other previously characterized, and hence named L. sanfrancensis by a UC Davis microbiologist who analyzed the starter.<br><br>They recommend, for people living anywhere who want to get a reliable starter, to mix 3 tbspns of live-culture (gelatin-free) plain yogurt, a cup of non-fat or low-fat milk, and a cup of flour. Keep at 80-90 degrees in a sealed bowl. I use an incandescent lamp, positioned above the bowl to maintain temp.<br><br>They say 2-5 days, develops bubbles, and clear liquid on top, indicating acidification and coagulation of milk proteins. The milk contains lactose, which the bacteria convert first to lactic acid, and then the lactic acid to acetic acid.<br><br>I like tangy bread, so I let mine go (with periodic stirring) for 7 days. Waay more sour than the original yogurt!<br><br>Harold McGee also gives passing reference to bacteria. It's not just yeast that is at work here for true sourdough.<br><br>Anyway, then the recipe calls for mixing in flour, salt, sugar and regular active-dry yeast, to get your rise. It calls for 15 minutes of kneading, then 2-3 hours of proofing, one punchdown, a short re-rise, and 350 degree baking for 35 minutes, with some water spraying a few times to get a thick crunchy crust. (I prefer 500 on a preheated bakestone for 10 minutes.)<br><br>The Lactobacillis, fed on a lactose substrate that it can acidify makes a SF-sourdough-quality tang. It's a recipe worth giving a try, and playing with to suit your tastes. <br><br>If you are a cookbook collector Sunset Cookbook is a beauty. If you want to try West Coast cuisine, it has great stories, and awesome recipes from fine restaurant chefs to home-cook inventions.<br>
A good alternate for Whole Wheat flour is King Arthur &quot;White&quot; Whole Wheat flour. It is a whole grain but not as strong tasting or as 'heavy' as regular whole wheat. We have been using it for pretty much everything and it is a wonderful alternative to traditional whole wheat flour.<br>Here is the link to WWW flour if you are not familiar with it. Most main stream groceries should carry it as well quite a few health food type stores.<br>http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/king-arthur-white-whole-wheat-flour-5-lb<br>
Thanks Jeanette, I actually use white whole wheat flour quite frequently. I don't think I have made and all-white bread in years! I usually use about half bread flour and the rest whole wheat or rye.<br><br>It is definitely a good way to ease people into more strongly flavored breads. Much of the flavor of whole wheat but with none of the bitterness.
Wow! Excellent instructions (and I find most recipes very hard to understand!!). I appreciated the conversational style (and the background info about salt). Thanks again. ... dave in austin, texas
Hi - looks real good - and well written! I'm just a little confused on the rye starter. You say it's just rye flour and water, plus the need to feed it...How much flour to water, w/ what do i feed it, how often, and do i leave it out or in the fridge? Thanks!
Hey, thanks for the compliments.<br><br>I'm probably going to make another instructable for making your own rye starter. It is quite simple! The starter is a reservoir for the bacteria and yeast that create the flavor and the gas that helps the bread rise.<br><br>Everyone has their own technique. My technique is to keep it in the refrigerator if I am not using it and feed it at least once a week (I let it sit at room temperature for a few hours after feeding it). If you are leaving it at room temperature you need to feed it every 24-48 hours. To feed it, just throw out half and add in more flour and water.<br><br>The amounts are very simple, 1/3 cup of rye flour &amp; 1/3 cup of water.<br><br>If you want to create your own starter it will take awhile, but I made mine from just mixing rye flour and water together and then feeding it. I will make a short instructable for making your own within the next week or so.<br><br>If you don't want to wait the 2-3 weeks it takes to make your own, you can try to find a friend who has a sourdough culture. Just give it a double feeding and have the friend give you the extra. Then you keep feeding that and it's your own little sourdough culture, no need to buy yeast at the store anymore!
Great Instructable! Very informative. :) Makes me crave some good sourdough!
Very descriptive. Makes me want to try to make sourdough bread again. :) Great ible!

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Bio: I am a chemical engineering undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire. I like to make things.
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