I have promised a post on shaping bread, so here’s the first of a large batch! I am baking bread for our work summer picnic next week and thought it prudent to do a test run to avoid disaster and the shame of turning up empty handed! I will post the recipe shortly, although you could look it up for yourselves (it’s another from the Nordic Bakery Cookbook, Miisa Mink), Rye Baguettes. Interestingly, and rather delightfully I thought, they have raisins in them and Miisa tantalisingly suggests they would be good with a slice of Brie, yes please!
As a result of my tiny penchant for baking books, I have trialled many a manual on how to shape bread and this method comes from Dan Lepard’s, ‘The Handmade Loaf’. I have chosen this particular technique because it is easy and, thus far, foolproof! So here are my own step by step pictures and guide for how to shape a brilliant baton:
a) (prior to the steps shown) Once your dough has doubled in size for the first time, firmly press it down (or knock back) with your fists. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into the number of pieces required by your recipe. Shape each piece into a smooth ball (not pictured) and place seam side down on a floured surface. Cover with a tea towel and leave for 10 minutes. Dan advises that this will produce a smooth ball which will give you a more even oval for shaping in the next step.
- Having left your ball/s of dough for 10 minutes, take one and flatten into an oval.
- Imagining your oval has four corners, take two adjacent corners and fold them towards the centre (see picture above)
- This will create an almost pointed outcrop in the dough. Take this projection and fold it into the centre. Don’t be afraid to press down quite firmly so that the dough bonds together.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the opposite edge of your oval. You will be left with a sort of canoe shape.
- Fold one of the long edges over onto the opposite edge and press down firmly to create a seam. Your dough will now resemble a sausage!
- Roll gently using both hands to elongate the shape slightly – I press down slightly harder with my outside two fingers on each hand to create the tapered ends. Remember that these batons will now be given a second rise, so don’t be shy when you are creating their pointed ends, as these will fatten up as they prove.
- Place on a lined and/or floured baking sheet and bake for the time specified in your recipe.
…and there you have it! A step by step guide to creating a beauteous baton! Let me know how it goes 🙂