If I am just making one loaf, since it doesn't need to be cut, can I put it straight into the prooving basket and give it one long proof in there before baking?
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The idea of the bulk ferment is to allow time for the dough to gather strength and to fill with a certain amount of gas before being shaped. If you are using stretch and fold, this time is also used in the development of the gluten. In the process of shaping, the yeast is exposed to a new source of food that gives a bit of a kick along. The shaping also forms a 'skin' to the loaf that helps to maintain the shape and forms the basis of the crust. If this 'skin' is left too long it can lose its effectiveness.
So, if you used vigourous kneading to develop the gluten quickly, it might be possible to shape your loaf immediately and just do a single prove and still produce a perfectly acceptable loaf.
Your best bet is just to try it and see what happens. This is far and away the best way to learn. There are almost as many ways to make good bread as there are baker's making it. Fundamentally, whatever works for you is what is right.
Redrich and Farinam, I am so happy to read the posts by the 2 of you.
Redrich you ask many questions that I have been wanting to ask as well and other questions that I did not think of yet :-)
Farinam you answer then so thoroughly I learn so much from you.
And to the others that answer questions here as well. I am so happy with this forum.
Thank you all so much.
I have done both varieties, depending on which flour I use, when I use wheat the double kneading works well.
When I use rye or spelt I tend to only do the 1-rise method which does work well as well.
My breads are not perfect yet, but they are certainly edible :-)
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