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.