You will need:
- baker’s knife or any other large kitchen knife
- two baskets lined with tea towels and sprinkled with flour (the flour could be spread evenly using a small colander or strainer)
- two large plastic bags
After the fermentation process is over and the dough fermenting in a bowl has doubled its volume, lay it gently on the pastry board sprinkled with flour. To do it, hold the bowl with the dough upside down over the worktop, at a minimum height, so that the dough can slowly ‘come out’ and ‘rest’ on the cutting board all by itself (without being pulled out).
Risen dough in a bowl
The dough should have the shape of a pillow (see picture below). Since the dough contains millions of tiny gas-filled bubbles and some larger ones, it is a good idea to lift the dough with your hands at the height of approx. 30 – 40 centimetres, and then drop it on the worktop. This makes the large bubbles move to the surface. Burst them with a skewer. The aim is to obtain elegant dough with bubbles which are uniform in size. I have to admit that I prefer to skip this step for two reasons. Firstly, when the dough falls on the board, a flour cloud appears (more cleaning afterwards). Secondly, my family loves bread with large irregular bubbles. Some bakers argue that when dough is dropped, starch particles and individual yeast cells are relocated, and yeast gains access to more food.
Risen dough on a cutting board
Now, imagine dividing the dough into three parts: ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’. Fold it by placing part ‘a’ on part ‘b’, and then part ‘c’ on part ‘b’. Carefully cut the resulting roll in half using a baker’s knife or any other large kitchen knife.
Folded dough ready for cutting Dough cut into two loaves
You are going to mould each piece into a loaf. Roll the dough up gently, without damaging the dough structure, perpendicularly to the direction in which the dough was rolled up previously. Roll it up almost to the end, turn it (the dough will slightly unfold), roll it up from the other end and pinch a seam. Your loaf does not have to be perfect at this point; it is only a suggestion of its future shape. Put the moulded loaf aside on the worktop, seam side down. Mould the other piece of dough in the same way. Cover each loaf with a tea towel and leave the loaves to rest for 10-15 minutes, during which the dough will find its shape.
Loaf rolled up from one side Pinching the seam
Next, take one loaf, turn it seam side up, roll it again in the same direction as before, and pinch a new seam. Immediately after that, place the loaf (seam side up) in a basket lined with a tea towel sprinkled with flour. Do the same with the other loaf. If you want your loaf to have a stylish, rustic look, and the basket is tightly braided, you can sprinkle the basket bottom and sides directly with flour, which will leave a beautiful pattern on the bread crust.
Finished loaf, with a visible seam.
Basket lined with a tea towel sprinkled with flour
Loaf placed in a basket.