Pre-Shape and Bench Rest
- Pre-shaping is more relevant to loaves than flat breads, the process helps to encourage the dough into what will be its final shape eg. boule, batard, or baguette. The resting time between the pre-shaping and final shaping helps to relax the dough making final shaping easier.
- Pre-shaping continues to align the gluten strands
- Pre-shaping helps to give the dough better structure and also contributes to a better rise
During pre-shaping, the dough needs to be handled very gently so as not to deflate the air pockets which developed during the bulk ferment, these are what will create the crumb (holes in the bread) after it’s baked.
Flat breads like ciabatta and focaccia should also be handled gently before baking; dimpling the dough with your fingertips pushes the air bubbles together to create the characteristic large, irregular holes. These doughs are poured or scraped onto a baking sheet that’s been coated lightly with non-stick vegetable-oil spray or vegetable oil.
Other breads, like rolls, sandwich loaves, boule, bagettes etc. require a more definite shape.
When shaping loaves or rolls, pinching the seam at the bottom helps to form a tight outer “skin” and results in a higher rise and better form.
There are two surfaces to dough that is proving – the lower surface that is touching the bottom of the bowl, which is usually bumpy, and the upper surface, which is not pressing against any surface and so is usually smooth. You want the smooth surface to become the outside or top of the loaf, so when shaping, place the smooth side against the work surface. As you shape the dough, the smooth surface will grip the work surface slightly, helping to create a better final shape.
Pre-Shaping A Boule
Let the dough know what you are going to be doing with it
- The exact pre-shaping required will depend on the type of bread you are making
- For a loaf bread, gently scrape out dough onto a lightly floured surface, smooth side down
- Try to keep as much air in it as possible.
For a Boule/Round loaf – Pull up and tuck in the middle in all the way around, roll, and roughly pre-shape
For a Batard or Baguette – Book fold, and roll to pre shape
- Cover lightly and rest for 15-20 mins before doing your final shaping.
There are many videos on YouTube, we have a couple on this page showing pre-shaping techniques.