I had the fantastic privilege of attending a series of baking classes at King Arthur Flour’s headquarters in Vermont this week. I’ll share more details from my trip soon; today I wanted to demonstrate one specific tip I learned in a bread-baking class.
After letting the dough rise once, I had always stretched the dough into a rectangle and folded it in thirds like a letter. At KAF I learned the “head and shoulders” method.
Then, begin folding. Fold in the top two corners of the dough – these are the shoulders. Next, fold down the center portion of the dough – this is the head. Press down and seal the dough with the heel of your hand after each step. Repeat this process until there’s no more dough left to fold. This method de-gases the dough more thoroughly, and it forms a tighter loaf for the second and final rise.
I wanted to see how much of a difference this shaping method would make. Theoretically, a tighter loaf would result in a higher rising bread.
The loaf shaped using the “head and shoulders” method is on the left while the loaf shaped using the “letter” method is on the right. Both loaves had risen to about the same height when I put them in the oven. The letter-method loaf had very little additional rise in the oven, while the head and shoulders-method loaf rose considerably.
When shaping sandwich loaves, this method stands head and shoulders above the rest. (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.)