Folds are used to increase the structure and to oxygenate the dough during the bulk fermentation. There are 3 main type of folds that you can use based on how much structure you’d like to achieve and how easily you can manipulate the dough you’re working with.
- Folds in bowl
- Slap & Fold
- Letter fold
1. Fold in bowl
Keeping the dough in its bowl, fold the edges towards the center. This fold is particularly useful for very hydrated dough that are difficult to manipulate or for preparations that don’t require very tight structures as pizza napoletana.
2. Slap and fold
This fold provides a lot of structure and it consists in slapping the dough on a slightly oiled surface and then fold on its own. The slap & fold gives a lot of structure and is very energetic. Use it for dough that haven’t reach a full gluten development. You can add some of these folds at the end of a hand-kneading process.
3. Letter fold
Spread the dough on the kitchen counter and fold as a letter (in 3 pieces) in one direction and then in the other direction. This fold provides a lot of structure and incorporates lots of oxygen. I often do three letter folds every 30 minute when making bread.
You can use a combination of folds depending on your needs. For instance, if you’re making a very hydrated bread, you might want to start with folds in the bowl and then move to a couple of ‘slap and fold’ to increase structure and finish kneading. Finally, you can do a round of letter fold to introduce more oxygen.