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Proofing and Shaping Bread Dough

  • Let the dough rise

    Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk. This can take 1 to 2 hours or more, depending on the temperature of the room.

  • Punch down the dough

    Punching down the dough releases gases that have built up during rising. Simply press down on the dough a few times with your fist until it has lost most of its air. Then, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

  • Divide the dough

    If your recipe calls for dividing the dough into portions, use a bench scraper or a sharp knife to cut it. You can cover the portions of dough you aren’t using with a damp kitchen towel so they won’t dry out.

  • Shape the dough

    Working with one portion at a time, shape the dough as specified in your recipe. Here, we show the beginning stages of shaping the dough into a baguette. Transfer the finished shaped dough onto a baking pan sprinkled with cornmeal.