This is how I shape Whole Wheat Bread loaves.
*In the following pictures, you will see only my left hand, because I lifted the right hand from its working position to take each photo. During loaf shaping, my right hand is usually adjacent to the left hand, doing the same kind of work.
I put each portion on a clean, greased countertop. With clean hands, I roll the dough back and forth between the counter and the palms of my hands, while using my fingers to tuck the long edges in. The following pictures show the progression of the dough from a fairly round ball to a smooth tube of a loaf.
The dough is still in a ball. I create some edges as I dip my fingers into the center of the ball, pressing the air out and drawing the edges into the center of the ball of dough. I keep tucking in these edges as I roll the dough back and forth on the countertop into a tube shape. I use firm, but gentle, pressure.
Still using firm but gentle pressure, I continue rolling the dough back and forth between my palms and the counter, all the while still using my fingers to tuck in the edges.
It is lengthening into a tube shape and I am still rolling it back and forth and tucking in the edges.
It is about as long as I want (about 7 inches). I press the tucked-in edges together and roll the loaf over so the tucked in edges are down on the countertop.
Using my hands, I alternate their position between the ends of the loaf and the the center of the roll to gently press the dough smooth.
I am done when the loaf is beautiful and smooth.
Then I proceed with the Whole Wheat Bread Recipe directions — transferring the loaf to a greased bread loaf pan, making cuts diagonally along the top and baking the bread in the oven.
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