The Folding Technique Paul Hollywood Swears By When Baking Sourdough Bread

Before appearing on "The Great British Bake Off", Paul Hollywood headed kitchens as a master baker in some of the United Kingdom's most prestigious hotel dining establishments. Hollywood's father was also a baker, so whatever tips the chef can share to improve our own freshly baked sourdough bread-making game, we are all ears for.

To mix sourdough in the Hollywood way, you'll fold the sides of the dough in a mixing bowl back down towards the center. As you turn the bowl, you'll continue the process: Fold the sides and press the dough into the center of the gooey dough ball. After the dough no longer sticks to your palms, let it rest for just 10 minutes before repeating this process eight more times. We know it sounds labor intensive, but you'll notice the dough becoming more smooth and malleable with each turn. If things are really sticky, simply wet or lightly oil your hands before each folding. Your determined folding efforts help build gluten in the dough and create the perfect elastic texture that the best sourdough loaves offer.

This committed approach yields results

Use a slightly oiled bowl for your dough-mixing efforts as you work the sourdough and shape it. Once the ingredients to make your dough have been thoroughly mixed and the dough is smooth and elastic, and it has been left to rise, you'll be back folding the doughy mound again like a small parcel. Think of wrapping a present, starting with folding the left and ride sides up and over, then flip the dough so that the creases are hidden. You'll leave the dough for several hours to proof before baking.

Though Hollywood's approach to making sourdough may require some rolling of the sleeves, patience, and plenty of elbow work, the results are worth it. You'll pull a delightfully crunchy, crusted loaf out of your oven that can be cut into soft aerated slices and topped with an assortment of sweet and savory spreads or drizzles of infused olive oil. Why not start with our favorite sourdough avocado toast recipe topped with a perfectly poached egg.