Formed and second fermentation

formado del pan

After the first fermentation goes the second, of course. But among them is a stage that, together with kneading, is one of the most frightening of home bakers: the formed one.



Forming is not about modeling the dough as if it were clay to make the shapes we want. The form consists of a gentle handling of the dough (we do not want to lose all the gas that has accumulated during the first fermentation), to generate one or more loaves that grow and greñen – open – or in the oven. It is important to understand that this is achieved by creating tension in the mass. Thus, the forming consists of stretching the dough a little and picking the leftover one at the bottom.

Let’s go with an example that will make you see it clearer: Carmen Sevilla. This endearing actress and presenter always said that the secret of her beauty at a more than advanced age consisted of a strategically located tape on the back of her head and that, put on the stretched skin, smoothed the wrinkles of the face. Well, with the bread, the same thing. The top is the one that has to be as smooth as the face of our friend Carmen, while the “wrinkles” will accumulate at the base of the bread. The weight of the part itself keeps the tension, so you don’t need anything like a tape.


In The videos of Masa Mater and in the networks you have many examples of forming bars, barbars or baguettes. The best way to learn how to form is to see how it forms, and make many loaves. But we cannot avoid the temptation to put here, in writing, three simple steps to make the most resulting and simple of those formed: a loaf.

1. After the first fermentation,carefully pour the dough over the table, well floured. Stretch it too slightly to form a kind of thick disc, but without degassing it too much.


2. “Pinch” the edge of the dough, stretch it gently and take it to the center. Keep pinching and stretching the dough until you’ve formed a kind of hatch with it. One trick to get it right is to imagine that in the center there is a small object (a candy, a chickpea or whatever) that we want to hide based on covering it with the dough.


3. Notice that you now have in front of you a kind of navel with all the wrinkles of the bread,while the “pretty” part, the smooth one, is on your back. In other words: bread is upside down. If you are going to do the second fermentation in a floured pan (like a bowl with a rag inside, for example), you have to put the dough as it is inside the bowl (i.e. with the ugly part facing up), so that when you turn it over to put it in the oven, the smooth part is smooth above. On the other hand, if you are going to do the second fermentation on a baking paper, then you will have to deposit the dough with the nice part facing up, and let it rise covered with a rag until it is time to put it in the oven, with paper included.
Simple, isn’t it? Well, let’s complicate it a little more.

If the dough is very liquid, you can do this process twice, but always taking into account what is the tense/beautiful part and which is ugly/wrinkled, because the second formed, which is optional, will be made generating more tension in the part that is already tense, that is, stretching the dough and leading it towards the center of the wrinkled part. Forming twice will improve your loaf: it will grow and skete better, and it will “spread” less in the oven. But for “very dry” masses, it’s not usually worth it.


Second fermentation

Only the second fermentation remains. We let up the pieces already formed before baking them. How long? Well, it’s a matter of practice, but there’s a rule you can’t go wrong with: 1 hour if it’s too hot, 3 hours if it’s pretty cold, 2 hours at spring/autumn temperature. This rule refers to the temperature of the kitchen, of course. If it were snowing but your kitchen is more than 20 degrees away, it’s better not to go beyond 2 hours of fermentation.


Because there’s a second and final rule. Like this post, with the second fermentation it is better to stay rather short than to pass. Because if you pass, the bread will not have the strength to go up and “explode” through the greña in the oven.


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