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Shaping your dough

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.

Dough is shaped after the stretch and folds (or kneading) have been completed and the dough has had time to ferment, is light and airy and doubled in size.

You can watch the video below or scroll down for the step by step photos

Step One

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. 

shaping your dough step one

Step Two

Fold the two points to the centre of the dough.

shaping your dough step two

Step Three

Repeat the same pulling down of the corners at the bottom of the dough.

shaping your dough step 3

Step Four

Fold the two corners to the middle of the dough. You now should have a kite/ diamond shape.

shaping your dough step four

Step Five

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.

shaping your dough step five
shaping your dough step 5a

Step Six

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.

shaping your dough step six

Step Seven

Continue to roll the top of the dough down to near the bottom of the dough and press down to seam.

shaping your dough step seven

Step Eight

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.  

shaping your dough step eight

Step Nine

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.

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