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Shaping your Sourdough Bread

sourdough , bread, baking, banneton baskets, shaping

Shaping your sourdough bread is an important step that can seem overwhelming for the first time. I promise it does get easier, in fact, it starts to become fun once you get the hang of it. There are 2 standard methods of sourdough shaping. The first is the round sourdough boule, and the second is the Batard or oval loaf. These shaping techniques are designed to give the bread that beautiful oven spring and ultimately create a stunning-looking loaf as the final product. Below, I have outlined each method paired with videos and explanations on how to execute each. I will also share the banneton proofing baskets that I use for the different shapes. It takes practice, but with each loaf, it becomes less intimidating.

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Method 1: The Round Sourdough Boule

round boule
Round Boule Dough

The round sourdough boule is probably the most common shaping you will see. It is exactly as it sounds, as it gives the dough a perfect circular shape at the end of its baking. In the below video, you will see the technique of shaping a round boule.

Sourdough Shaping-Round Boule Video

  1. Place the dough on an almost un-floured surface. You can lightly flour your hands to prevent stickiness.
  2. Sprinkle a little flour on the top of the dough and flip it over.
  3. Lift the top of the dough and fold it down to the center.
  4. Lift the left side of the dough and fold it to the middle.
  5. Lift the right side of the dough and fold it to the middle.
  6. Lift the bottom of the dough and fold it to the center, closing everything in.
  7. Flip the dough back over and start to round out the dough.
  8. Scoop the dough slightly towards yourself and move it in circular motions repetitively until you have your desired round shape.
  9. Lastly, place the dough into your round banneton-proofing basket, seam side up (bottom up). TIP: I flour my baskets with rice flour to prevent sticking. Rice flour is commonly used because it does not burn in the oven.

Boule banneton basket

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Round banneton basket

Example of a Finished Sourdough Boule Shape

artisan sourdough bread

Method 2: The Oval Batard Loaf

In my opinion, this is the most effective method for shaping sourdough bread, as it creates a tight and clean-looking loaf. As the title suggests, this method yields an oval shape that enhances the springiness of the bread, ultimately resulting in beautiful and delicious slices. Please refer to my video below, in which I demonstrate how I shape a batard loaf. While there are several techniques to choose from, this is my personal favorite.

batard dough in banneton
Batard dough

Sourdough Batard Shaping Video

how to shape a batard bread
  1. Sprinkle a little flour over the surface of the dough and flip it over.
  2. Gently pat it into a rectangular shape and take the right side of the dough and fold it to the middle.
  3. Take the left side of the dough and fold it over the right side pressing the seam down.
  4. At the top of the dough cross the right and left sides over each other. Then, roll it into a log shape and tighten the seams by pressing them together.
  5. Lastly, place the dough in a lightly floured oval banneton basket seam side up.
  6. You can tighten the seam in the banneton basket if needed (see below).
rustic sourdough bread dough in banneton basket
Bind the seams together to create tension

Oval banneton basket.

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Oval banneton basket

Example of a Finished Batard Shape

batard sourdough loaf

I hope you found this article helpful and thank you so much for reading it! If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask. And as always, enjoy the process of baking sourdough, it is meant to be rewarding! Happy baking 🙂

Sourdough bread recipes:

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  1. Laura Frechette Avatar
    Laura Frechette

    Your pictures are very helpful!