The Four-Fold Technique: The Key to Great Homemade Dough


This is really the crux of building good dough strength at home. Rather than kneading and kneading and kneading the dough at the mixing stage, it is more beneficial to most dough (and to most home bakers) to develop its strength over the course of the entire fermentation period. By giving the dough a series of timed folds interspersed by periods of rest, we can build a beautifully developed dough while monitoring its progress throughout the fermentation period. And it’s incredibly easy, it keeps you in touch with your dough as it moves along so that you can learn from it and it makes great bread.

This technique is used within the Cinnamon Swirl Bread recipe.

Here’s how it works:

1. Using your fingers or a bowl scraper, gently turn the dough out onto a floured counter.

2. Using the pads of your fingers (not the sharper tips), grasp the left side of the dough and bring it about two-thirds of the way across the rest of the dough (seen above).



3. Brush away any excess flour that may have come from the table. Do the same for the right side.


4. Bring the bottom section up toward the middle.


5. Finally, bring the top down. Roll the dough over so the seam is on the bottom, and place it back into the bowl. Return it to its warm spot.

6. Repeat this procedure every 30 minutes until the bulk fermentation is complete, according to your recipe.

That’s pretty much it. Can’t you just feel that gluten developing and fermentation chugging away right under your fingertips? That’s the stuff of life right there.

Reprinted with permission from Baking By Hand: Make the Best Artisanal Breads and Pastries Better Without a Mixer © 2013 by Andy & Jackie King, Page Street Publishing.

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