What is the Coil Fold?

— 3 minute read

The coil fold is probably my favorite technique for building structure into my bread. While most tutorials and beginner recipes will teach you to stretch and fold, I think the coil fold is much more straightforward and easier — if, that is, you're working with high hydration dough.

How do you do a Coil Fold? permalink

A coil fold is simple to describe, but does require that you learn how to handle your dough. So I think it's a perfect technique to teach beginners, as they will learn a lot about how their dough feels. Here's how you complete a coil fold.

  1. Before you start, wet your hands. The water acts as a barrier and prevents the dough from sticking to you.
  2. Next, scrape your fingers around the edge of the dough to gently separate it from the container. This isn't strictly required for a coil fold, but it helps to prevent the dough from tearing later. If your hands have dried, wat them again.
  3. Put your fingertips from one hand under the middle of the dough and lift to form a "bridge".
  4. The dough will still stick on both sides, so use the fingertips from your other hand to scrape them off so that you are holding your droopy dough. This droopy shape is essentially the dough folding itself.
  5. Grab the drooping parts of the dough with your other hand and pull them both to the same side, and lay the dough down in its new folded state. If it's especially droopy, you can often fold it an extra time in the same direction before putting it down.
  6. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat.
  7. You're done!

When is the Coil Fold the right fold to use? permalink

Since it relies on the dough drooping down on the sides when you pick it up in the middle, it's best to use with high hydration doughs. These will tend to droop and stretch more than lower hydration doughs. But even when your dough is already nice a tight, you can spin the dough in your hand to stretch the dough with a bit of centripedal force.

The big advantage of a Coil Fold for high hydration doughs is that you don't have to touch the dough very much. This means those sticky high hydration doughs won't be as much of a problem. What I especially like about this technique is that there is not a whole lot of "squishing" force used, only stretching forces. This means that, unlike Stretch and Fold where you have to actively pinch the dough and pull it upward, there is no pinching here. I never feel like I am squishing the bubbles out when I do a coil fold.

Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think. If you've tried a Coil Fold, how did it work out? Leave a comment below!