Baked on May 30th 2020. 10% Dark Rye flour with Bob Mill’s unbleached Artisan bread flour. Proofed 45 minutes in a banneton and slashed with a lame.

Some months ago, I spent over an hour watching a uTube tutorial on how to fold dough using a plastic scraper with the dough in a metal bowl. The tutor was an elderly American man.

This gave me a few ideas and so recently, I have been trying out an alternative method to baking bread. Instead of using the aged old method of proofing the dough for an hour, then knocking or punching the dough down to expel the air and then proofing again before shaping and baking, I tried what I refer to as  ‘the 4 /40 minutes interval folding method’.

After mixing all the ingredients by hand in a bowl using a plastic scraper, ensuring there are no dry flour spots, I let the dough relax for 15 minutes, and then fold the dough about 30 times using the plastic scraper with the dough inside the bowl.  When done, cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap. Rest it at room temperature for 40 minutes.

Repeat the folding after 40 minutes.

Try to fold the dough slowly and gently, taking care not to tear the gluten strands by stretching the dough roughly. I suspect if you did a lot of this, the loaf will collapse after it’s taken out of the oven as the gluten structure would then be compromised.

Let the dough rest for another 40 minutes before repeating the process. I do this for four foldings at 40 minute intervals. Effectively, one is letting the yeast stretch the gluten strands for you and at the same time developing more flavour. By the fourth folding, the dough’s texture should be silky and elastic. If not so, fold a few more times.

After the final 4th folding, divide the dough if necessary, into the number of loaves you wish to make, and let the dough rest again for 15 minuted to relax the gluten, before doing the final shaping and proofing.

I let the dough proof in a banneton  (or on baking paper if the loaf is shaped by hand), usually for another 40 minutes. During this time, heat up your oven to 245˚C.

Water spray the shaped dough after this and do the scoring or slashing with a lame, and then bake at high temperatures for 30 minutes. I use a temperatures of 245˚C to 265˚C, using a Dutch oven. You can also bake the loaves on a hot stone.

With Dutch ovens, bake the dough covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes to brown the crust. I also leave the oven door slightly open for 5 minutes , just 10 minutes before the final stretch to dry the crust to make it crispy. When done, transfer the loaf on to a metal rack to cool before slicing!

The results are a crispy crust, soft, elastic and chewy crumb with nice holes and more importantly, a stronger flavour.

With this method you need a large bowl, a scraper, weighing scales, a banneton and a lame. Final proof the dough in a banneton or on baking paper. You can use the baking stone or a Dutch Oven. A Baker’s peel is optional.

These are the two 7 inch bannetons I use for most of my breads. I also have two Dutch ovens.  Whether you bake one loaf or two loaves, you consume the same amount of eletricity!

The use of a banneton controls the shape of your dough, especialyy those with higher hydration, and allows you to be creative with the slashing of the boule. Here and below, are a few examples. You can also watch a short video on how the to score a boule or to use stencils on a boule.

Unbleached  Bread flour with  1 tbs potato flakes and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp dry yeast. Using the 4/40 minute interval folding method gives time for the development of the dough. I added 2 tbs poppy seeds during the third folding.

Another example of the 4/40 minute interval folding method. With a simple cross slashing. The picture on the right shows the sliced bread being eaten with ham as a sandwich.

Two more boules showing the constancy of the method. I’ve experimented with breads using a small percentage of: potato flakes; with dark rye flour; with semolina; with whole wheat flour etc. I have also used mixed grains, poppyseeds, raisins, walnuts , wheat grain flakes etc. using the 4/40 method. So far, it’s turns out good everytime.

This is bread with red wheat germ flakes.The bread loaf is shown below. It is sliced to expose the crust and crumb. The crust is thin and crispy, the crumb is lose with nice holes and a soft , chewy texture.

Uses 400g unbleached Bread flour with 1 tbs potato flakes; 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt; 1 1/4 tsp dry yeast; and 1 1/3 Cups of water. At the 3rd fold, I added 2 tbs red wheat germ flakes. Final proofing done in a banneton, and baked in a Dutch oven at 245˚C for 30 minutes with the cover on, and 10 minutes with the cover off.

“Success is due to our stretching to the challenges of life. Failure comes when we shrink from them.”

John C. Maxwell.