Before you can bake your dough, you’ll need to shape it into whatever loaf you want to bake. Watch this video, or read on, for tips on how to shape dough for a tin loaf.
Why shape bread dough before baking?
Firstly, shaping builds structure within your dough. Gluten strands in the dough act like stretchy elastic bands. By shaping, you will pull these bands tight across the top of your dough, creating tension that holds the dough in place as it rises again, filling out with gas produced by the yeast. Imagine it’s like a balloon being inflated and shaping creates the outer skin of the balloon.
Secondly, shaping can help create a consistent crumb, or inside, to your finished loaf, if that’s what you want.
How to shape dough for a tin loaf
At the start of my bread making classes, most people often think that the kneading will be the hardest part of making their loaves of bread by hand. However, shaping can also be tricky, and is crucial to getting a well-rise loaf. Using a tin to bake your loaf is great if you’re just starting out, as it will help contain your efforts and stop the dough splitting and spreading during baking.
Traditional loaf tins often come in 1lb (450 – 500g) or 2lb (800g) sizes. The weight measurement refers to the weight of dough shaped and placed in the tin. You might want to weigh out pieces of dough before shaping, so that you don’t under or over-fill the tin. Always grease a tin before using, and line with baking paper if making a very wet dough such as focaccia.
One thing you’ll notice in the video is that I don’t flour the surface before I start. Try to avoid using flour if you can as you’ll just incorporate dry flour into your loaf. However, if it’s really sticking, put a little flour in a pile to one side and use it to occasionally dust your hands and the dough as you work.
Here are my basic steps on shaping a tin loaf. Or watch the video to see more.
- Flatten the dough slightly. Pinch out one side of the dough, stretch it out and fold it back into the middle. Continue until you’ve worked all the way around the dough. Then flip the dough over, cup your hands and rotate the dough on the surface to form a loose ball. Cover with the bowl and leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
- Flatten the rested dough into a rectangle roughly the length of the tin you’re going to use. Pinch each corner in turn, stretching them out and folding into the middle. Your dough should now resemble the shape of a cross.
- Pinch the top and bottom of the cross shape together, stretch them out and fold into the middle. Repeat for the two sides of the cross.
- Your dough should now be tightly folded up. The last stage is to roll up the dough into a sausage. Start at the side nearest to you and roll as if rolling up a piece of paper into a tight roll. Tuck the sides in as you go.
- Place the rolled dough, seam side down, into your greased tin, cover and leave to rise.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog, or have any further breadmaking questions, do let me know in the comments! Or why not check out more breadmaking recipes, hints and tips on the blog.
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