Rounder loaves


Francis asked me in a PM, but I have posted the reply here as others may have the same question

how to get more rounder breads like soccer balls than rugby balls? for now, iam getting rugby balls. if iam to get more rugby ball, then how to get "higher" rugby ball instead of flatter ones?


To get the best shape from your bread, there are three steps
Slashing/Transferring in to oven

1. Shaping

To get a round loaf:
Lightly flour a benchtop and your hands (not too much flour!!)
Take your dough (after its first rise) and press it down a little with your fingers into a rough fat circle(don't press all the air out, that's not the aim). Grab hold of a bit of the dough furthest away from you (12 o'clock). Pull it away from you (stretch it a bit), then fold it in to the middle. Turn the whole dough anticlockwise (direction doesn't matter of course) 1/8th of a full turn. (Your folded bit will now be at ~ 10-11 o'clock)
Grab hold of the dough at 12 o'clock, stretch and fold in. Turn the dough.
Repeat until you have gone all the way around the dough.
Flip the dough over so that the folds are on the bottom.

Now is the time when you will discover if you put too much flour on the bench (if you have brush/wipe it out of the way).
Put your left hand on the side of the dough (9 o'clock). (This hand will steady the dough, but you are aiming to use the friction of the table to stop it moving too far). With the heel of your right hand push in the right side of the dough (3'o clock). Your hand will push in (to the left) and down, so that the circle will become an oval shape, and dome upwards. There will be a slight stretching of the top surface of the dough. (If the table is too floury the dough will just slide across the bench. If the bench is not floury enough the dough will remain stuck to the bench and you will have to peel it off - you want somewhere in between!)
Turn the dough an 1/8th of a turn clockwise (again the direction doesn't matter). Repeat.
As you turn the dough around and push in with your righ hand, it will be becoming more 'domed', and the top will gradually be getting more taut.

When you have turned the dough all the way around, and it is looking like a half sphere with the top surface stretched out, you should flip it over into a basket for proving. (ie smooth side facing down)

2. Proving
You will get the best round shape with a bowl or basket which isn't too shallow.
(If you don't have a special proving basket, try lining a collander with a well floured tea towel).
The other factor about proving is the length of time that you prove for.
If you prove for too long the dough will deflate when you tip it out. Better a little 'underproved'.

3. Slashing/Transferring
This is the critical time.
Make sure that your oven is warmed up. If you have an oven stone place that in the cold oven (before you turn it on). Otherwise put in a metal oven tray when you turn the oven on.

Get ready your 'peel', a knife to slash the dough, and your oven gloves.

You are aiming to tip out the dough, slash it and transfer it in to the oven in less than 10 seconds, so be prepared and move quickly!

[Peel: This is the board used to transfer a loaf in to the oven. I have always used a piece of stiff cardboard, which lurks on top of my fridge. Cut one panel of a cardboard box (a sturdy one).]

Sprinkle some semolina on to your peel. spread it out with your fingers over the peel.
Gently tip the dough on to the peel (smooth side now facing up).
Slash quickly with your very sharp knife in whatever pattern takes your fancy (eg a cross)
Open the oven, lift the peel, and with a little shoving motion slide the dough off the peel on to your hot stone or oven tray.
Close the oven before you lose all the precious heat. Breathe a sigh of relief!

Some/much of the above may already be known to you.
You may also find that you get better height from your loaves by 'folding' them during their first rise. For example you can stretch and fold the dough every hour during the first rise (bulk fermentation)


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Maedi's picture
Maedi 2006 June 26

Wow, thanks for that very insightful tutorial Dom. In theory I'm now an expert in shaping!

At first I thought that you were trying to pass your name off as a new method:
As you turn the dough around and push in with your righ hand, it will be becoming more [color=darkblue]'domed'[/color], and the top will gradually be getting more taut.
My mistake though


SourDom 2006 June 27

you're welcome Maedi,

perhaps we'll entice you yet to join us in baking...

yours [b]dom[/b]estically


SourDom 2006 June 28


I did a ring around of tile shops a month or so ago when looking for a new stone. There are a few places on Sydney road that sell 30cm x 30cm unglazed quarry tiles (40 x 40 would be better, but I couldn't find any). Make sure that it is 2cm thick or so (I have some thinner tiles, but they don't seem as effective).


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