For the new baker venturing into the world of sourdough baking, achieving a strong dough with an open crumb can be a thrilling challenge. When it comes to high-hydration doughs, finding the sweet spot between proper gluten development and maintaining an airy texture can seem elusive. However, there is a technique that experienced bakers swear by as the best way to achieve exceptional results: coil folds. This method not only strengthens the dough but also enhances its structure, resulting in beautifully textured loaves. In this article, we will explore the art of coil folding for sourdough bread and discover how this technique can take your baking to new heights.
- What Are Coil Folds?
- Why Coil Fold Sourdough?
- Coil Fold Method
- Coil Fold Video
- How Does Autolyse Technique Affext Coil Folds?
- How Many Coil Folds Should I Do?
- Can You Do Too Many Foil Folds?
- How Long To Wait Between Sets of Folds?
- What Is The Difference Between Coil Folds and Stretch and Folds?
- When To Use Coil Folds vs Stretch and Folds?
- Sourdough Recipes To Try Using Coil Folding Technique
- Christmas Sourdough ebook
- Don’t Keep A Sourdough Starter Yet?
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What Are Coil Folds?
Coil folds are a technique used during the bulk fermentation stage of making bread dough, particularly in sourdough baking. They involve gently lifting and folding the edges of the dough inwards towards the centre in a circular motion, resembling the shape of a coil. This method helps to strengthen the dough and improve its structure whilst the dough ferments. By incorporating coil folds into the bread-making process, bakers can enhance gluten development and overall dough integrity.
Why Coil Fold Sourdough?
Coil folds are a crucial fold technique in sourdough bread-making, offering a range of benefits that contribute to better texture (those sought-after large holes on the inside), flavour (well-distributed sourdough tang), and overall quality of the final loaf.
- Improved gluten development: Coil folding helps strengthen the gluten network in the dough, resulting in a better structure and texture of the bread.
- Enhanced dough strength: By incorporating coil folds during the fermentation process, the dough benefits from a strong gluten network and elasticity, making it easier to handle and shape.
- Increased gas retention: Properly executed coil folds help trap carbon dioxide produced during proper fermentation, leading to a better oven spring and a lighter and more open crumb in the finished bread.
- Flavour development: Coil folding allows for more even distribution of fermentation byproducts and acids, resulting in a more pronounced and complex flavour profile in sourdough bread.
- Reduced need for excessive kneading: Unlike traditional kneading methods or mechanical mixing, coil folding offers a gentler approach to developing gluten, minimizing the risk of overmixing the dough and resulting in a more tender crumb. What is more, it removes the hard work and is therefore a perfect method for people with a reduced ability to knead.
- Time efficiency: Coil folding is a relatively quick and simple technique, requiring minimal hands-on time and allowing home bakers to accomplish other tasks while the dough undergoes fermentation.
- Easier To Perform On Wet Doughs than stretch and folds.
Coil Fold Method
- Using wet hands, gently coax the edges of your dough with your fingers and lift them from the middle, bringing them inwards back onto itself (as if you are coiling it inwards).
- Turn your tray or container and repeat this process on the other side of the dough. If the dough sticks too much to your hands, wet them again.
- Repeat these folds every 30 minutes for 2-3 hours, allowing the dough to rest in between. As you continue the folds, you will notice the dough becoming less sticky and more elastic.
- If you used an active and mature starter, you should feel a noticeable improvement after 2 folds: you will have a more elastic dough and air bubbles will start forming on the top.
- After completing all the folds, let the dough rise and ferment undisturbed. The duration of this process depends on the room temperature, but I tend to leave it for a couple of hours before cold proof and final shape.
- Your dough should increase by approximately 50% during this fermentation period.
Coil Fold Video
How Does Autolyse Technique Affext Coil Folds?
The autolyse technique, which involves mixing and leaving flour and water for a 30-60 minute rest before adding the starter and salt, improves dough extensibility and flavour. This can positively affect coil folds by making the dough more pliable and easier to handle. The dough won’t stick to your hands as much after autolysing (you will definitely notice the difference on your first set of folds).
The autolyse period also enhances enzymatic activity, contributing to better flavour development during fermentation, which is further enhanced through coil folding. Together, these techniques result in a flavorful and well-structured sourdough bread.
How Many Coil Folds Should I Do?
The number of folds you should perform during the bulk fermentation time of sourdough bread-making can vary depending on factors such as dough hydration, recipe, and desired outcome. As a general guideline, most bakers find that 4 to 6 sets of coil folds at regular intervals are sufficient.
To determine when you’ve done enough coil folds, there are a few indicators to consider:
- Dough Strength: Pay attention to the strength and elasticity of the dough. After each set of coil folds, you should notice increased strength and structure in the dough. It should become easier to handle and shape.
- Gluten Development: Look for signs of proper development of gluten strands. The dough should have good extensibility, meaning it can stretch without tearing, while still maintaining some elasticity.
- Fermentation Progress: Consider the fermentation progress of the dough. Coil folds help redistribute nutrients and gases, contributing to an even fermentation. Significant increase in volume and signs of fermentation (such as large air bubbles on the top of the dough or a slightly domed appearance), may be a good indication that you have done enough coil folds. Note though, that your dough should not be doubled in size after the last coil fold as most recipes require you to leave the dough to finish fermenting undisturbed.
Can You Do Too Many Foil Folds?
Yes. Once the gluten network has formed, it’s important to handle the dough with care as excessive manipulation can lead to the breakdown of this delicate structure.
It is therefore important not to overdo the coil folds. Excessive folding can lead to overdeveloped gluten and a denser final bread. It’s a balance between achieving a strong, well-structured dough and allowing it to retain its desired texture and open crumb.
Ultimately, experience and observation will guide you in determining when you’ve done enough coil folds.
How Long To Wait Between Sets of Folds?
As a general rule, it is recommended to wait around 30-minute intervals between sets of coil folds during the bulk rise of your sourdough dough. This interval allows the dough to rest and relax before performing the next set of folds. However, the exact timing can vary depending on factors such as dough hydration, ambient temperature, and the specific recipe you are using. It’s important to observe the dough’s behaviour during this time and adjust the intervals if needed. The goal is to give the dough enough time to undergo fermentation and gluten development, while also ensuring that it remains manageable during the folding process.
What Is The Difference Between Coil Folds and Stretch and Folds?
Coil folds and stretch and folds are different methods used in sourdough bread-making, but they can both achieve similar results in terms of gluten development and structure.
- Coil folds involve gently lifting and folding the sides of the dough towards the center in a circular motion, resembling the shape of a coil.
- Stretch and folds, on the other hand, involve stretching the dough and folding it onto itself from all sides, creating surface tension and building strength.
- While both techniques contribute to gluten development and improve the structure of the dough, they differ in the specific motions and the way surface tension is created.
- Coil folds are typically performed at regular intervals during the bulk fermentation stage, while stretch and folds are usually done as a set of folds in one session.
- Coil folds are particularly effective for high-hydration doughs, as they help improve dough strength and gas retention, while stretch and folds are adaptable to a range of hydration levels.
When To Use Coil Folds vs Stretch and Folds?
When deciding between coil folds and stretch and folds, it’s important to consider the hydration level of your dough and the desired outcome.
- Stretch and folds are versatile and can be used with a range of dough types, from lower to higher hydration levels. They are especially useful when incorporating flavours or additional ingredients into the dough. However, they can be more challenging to perform with extremely wet and sticky dough due to the difficulty in handling and folding.
- Coil folds, on the other hand, are particularly effective for higher hydration doughs. They excel at building dough strength and improving structure, especially in really high hydration dough where other techniques might struggle.
As a general rule, I tend to use the stretch-and-fold method for stiffer dough and to incorporate extra ingredients, like in this Date and Coffee Sourdough Bread.
Sourdough Recipes To Try Using Coil Folding Technique
Try these sourdough bread recipes. They are higher-hydration and perfect to implement what you’ve learned in this article:
- Overnight Sourdough Focaccia With Olives
- Pumpkin Fougasse
- Sourdough Hamburger Buns
- Sourdough Baguettes
- Sourdough Ciabatta
Christmas Sourdough ebook
Celebrate the holiday season with a unique twist this year with our 24 Christmas Sourdough recipes! Discover the magic of using active sourdough starter, sourdough discard, and leftover baked sourdough bread to create a memorable and flavoursome Christmas feast.
Don’t Keep A Sourdough Starter Yet?
I may be biased, but I think that you should give it a go. A strong sourdough culture can replace commercial yeast in almost any baking recipe.
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