How to Form Dough Rounds
Shape your dough into smooth balls before making dinner rolls, pizza crusts, bagels, or monkey bread.
1. Forming smooth and shapely dough rounds is one of the most important skills a baker learns. It accomplishes two things:
- It stretches the thin sheet of gluten on the outside of the round to form an attractive spherical shape for the loaf or rolls.
- It tightens the gluten strands within the dough. Loaves that lack this structure will be dense and heavy rather than light and airy. The goal is to form a very tight, smooth, and round ball.
2. Here, we're shaping dough made from the Bagels II recipe (see the link below); the dough has already risen once. Double-check the recipe you're following to ensure you portion the dough correctly. This recipe calls for the portion size to be 5 ounces, for one dozen bagels.
3. Take two ends of the dough and fold them into the middle; repeat 2 or 3 times. In essence, you are turning the dough inside out. The dough will be noticeably tighter.
4. One side of the dough will be smooth (except for a possible small carbon dioxide blister, which is good), while the other side will look like a seam of dough closing in on itself. Place the ball seam-side down on the work surface. With the palm of your hand against the smooth side of the dough, move the ball around in circles on the work surface. Keep as little flour as possible on the work surface, as some friction is required for the dough to stretch. The non-smooth end needs to be in constant contact with the work surface. Be careful not to use too much force and tear the outside of the round; too much pressure will weaken the structure of the dough. The act of moving your hands in circles will cause the seam to close and the smooth side to stretch, forming a nice ball.
5. Another way to form dough rounds is to exert pressure with your palm when rolling. This extra pressure will make the dough even tighter but requires a lot of practice. Start by rolling one of the balls with one hand the first couple of tries, then switch to the other hand a few rounds down the road. After both hands feel comfortable and you feel you are not exerting too much pressure on the dough, try rolling two rounds at once.
6. Once all of the dough pieces have been formed into rounds, set them on a floured or greased tray to be proofed once again. To keep them from drying out and forming a skin, cover the rounds with a slightly damp towel or plastic wrap.
If the dough rounds will be shaped before rising again (stretched into pizza dough, or shaped into pretzels or bagels) let the balls of dough rest for about ten minutes before proceeding.
Practice your dough-shaping skills with these recipes:
7. Related links: