The Science Of Folding

This weekend we learned something new… and it’s not that the whole country comes to a standstill after 10 centimetres of snowfall. That’s a given.

In fact, we just overheard some locals the other day complaining that the United Kingdom is practically unable to cope with…. weather. Any kind of weather. When it rains, it’s flooded. When it snows, nothing moves. When the sun shines there is drought. Maybe this wet rock in the North Sea is indeed uninhabitable, if it wouldn’t be for these stubborn folks with their stiff upper lip and their peculiar sense of humour who love nothing more than talking about… well, weather of course!

“So, while I was forced to stay at home, I focussed on improving my bread making skills. I tried to put something into practice that I’ve learned the other day. As mentioned before, I prefer to experience and understand the principles rather than following instructions blindly. So when I was reading about the theory of what is happening when you knead, I was intrigued. It’s not about mixing, it’s all about arranging gluten strings in a manner that would reinforce structure, which in return is vital to growth. And that’s why kneading isn’t actually a good thing. Let’s compare it to GRP (I know, that’s not a really nice comparison, but it helps): Kneading would practically create what is the equivalent to chopped strand mats, in other words the basic fibreglass mats. Versatile but not really strong. What we really need is order, like in proper fabric.

The solution is called ‘folding’. So I stretched the dough out and folded it. And stretched again and folded in the other direction. And so on. After a few more times I did let it rest for 2 hours and then repeated the stretching and folding. I realised that when I stretched the dough after resting, you could really hear it deflating, so I knew it was raising nicely in the meantime. Of course, after the third time folding you just let is rest (and grow) for another 2 hours and then you put it into the oven. The result is a far less compact bread with an delightful airy structure (and tasting yummy, too). I should combine that with the sour dough recipe I tried just before Christmas, I’m sure that’s going to be a great bread!“

Incidentally, the paper frogs have nothing to do with making bread, even though they were clearly the result of some ingenious folding techniques. Instructions are of course available on request.