Shaping your dough takes practice. The only way to get good at it is to keep trying. There are a multitude of ways to shape bread but my advice is to try to master one before trying another. This article shows you how to shape a loaf into a bloomer or to put into tin. It’s the same shape; the bloomer sits on a tray unsupported and the other is supported by a tin.
You can watch the video below or scroll down for the step by step photos
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Handle gently so as to retain the gas bubbles. By handling the dough gently you will have an irregular crumb structure. If you want a tight crumb with very small holes then you will need to flatten the dough out completely before shaping.
Gently pull the dough into a square shape. Hold the two opposite corners of the top of the dough and stretch them out to look like cat ears.
Fold the two points to the centre of the dough.
Repeat the same pulling down of the corners at the bottom of the dough.
Fold the two corners to the middle of the dough. You now should have a kite/ diamond shape.
Starting from the top of the loaf, using your thumbs and index fingers, begin to roll the top of the dough down, taking it to the centre of the dough. Press the seam down gently.
If the dough is feeling flabby or you think it will be too wide for your loaf tin, you can fold in the two sides to make the final loaf more compact and to have a tighter structure. Press the seam down gently. If you are working with a stiffer dough or a wholemeal this step might not be necessary.
Continue to roll the top of the dough down to near the bottom of the dough and press down to seam.
Continue to roll the dough down until the part of the dough that was at the bottom is now the smooth top. The loaf should feel tight and have a good surface tension if you place your hand gently on the top.
If you think your dough is still feeling too loose/ flabby, then you can fold the two sides to the centre to tighten it further. Alternatively, cup your hands underneath the loaf gently pulling it tighter. Place your dough in or on the tin. Cover it with a proving cloth or oiled clingfilm and leave to prove a second time.
You can take a deep dive into bread making with my online Bread Made Easy Masterclass.