Forming Dough Rounds Article -
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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:

          Aug. 23, 2009 5:56 am
          The first bread I taught myself how to bake was Challah. Not being Jewish, I got a lot of respect. People raved and I was considered such an artist! Then, I got a Kitchen Aid mixer. There was something I wasn't doing correctly. It's not the mixer's fault, it's me. The sponge stopped rising like I have loved. It was still edible, Really delicious. But I want to know what I'm doing that would prevent the huge rise I used to have. I've gone over and over, going back to the basics. Will keep trying and be patient and loving as I've always been. Thanks for this website, I am inspired to continue the effort.
          Sep. 3, 2009 8:55 pm
          I use a Kitchen Aid mixer all the time, and have great success with it for making yeast doughs. The first thing I wonder about is whether your yeast is fresh. Also, if you are heating or using warm liquids at all in your recipe, too warm a temperature could stop the rising as well. Yeast needs some sugar for rising, as well as some salt. There are many factors that could cause the problem you are having. Start with these first and hopefully your problems will be over.
          Cynthia Falwell 
          Nov. 14, 2009 11:14 am
          I love yeast rolls, but I just can't get it right and I would love to make homemade bread, but it always turns out wrong. I guess I am just not a baker. Any suggestions?
          Nov. 25, 2009 10:36 am
          I am a long time cook but a relatively new baker.I finally learned you need to be EXACT with the measurements.Be patient with the rising,let it be.Be aware of the temp.while rising,no drafts,fairly warm,80-90,keep covered.Read everything about baking,listen to experience,and don't give up.My wife and friends are amazed how good my bread is now.I look forward to trying new things,my wife cares for a holocaust survivor and to her Christmas is Stollen which she hasn't had in 20 years.I contacted bakers in Germany and got an authentic recipe and she'll have some this year.Keep trying,you'll get it and be very glad you did.
          Dec. 13, 2009 1:13 am
          Thank you Valerie. Like I said, I'll go back to basics. I have a fresh jar of yeast, like to make sure the eggs are room temp, I know not to kill the yeast with water that is too hot when I proof it. Will keep trying. And thank you Mr. Scruggs420, I will be patient, read, listen and won't give up. Now, what is Stollen? Is that a cookie? And Cynthia, let's keep at it! Peace to everyone!
          Dec. 14, 2009 3:34 pm
          I have a kitchen aid mixer and the first few times I made bread in it it didn't work out. I found you have to be very careful about the length that you mix because it breaks down the gluten and can kill the yeast. I was told that by a professional baker.
          Dec. 19, 2009 7:15 am
          Per420fect: Please tell us what is the correct amount of time to mix the dough by KitchenAid, and what speed do you use? I've just made my first attempt at making homemade yeast rolls and used my KAid. Flop. I know now I used too much flour, but I also think I may have over- or under-worked the mixer time. Many thanks. Ann
          Dec. 19, 2009 7:25 am
          I make bread in my kitchenAid every other day. Takes alot of practice. 2 cups milk at 110degrees with 2 tble spn of honey and 6 tble spn of melted butter and 2 egg yokes in the mixer bowl with 2 tble spns of yeast. proof this for about 5 mins. add 2 teaspoons of salt 6 cups SIFTED a/p flour and 2 egg whites beaten till light and airy, knead for 13 mins.I find that the new spiral kneader from KitchenAid does a better job than the old one. Put in oiled bowl and let rise covered with a damp towel till doubled. Roll out on floured surface and GENTLY cut dough in half and shap for your bread pans,make sure you streach the top smooth and seal the bottom seam cover with damp cloth again and let rise just till the top of dough is even with the top of bread pan. Make small slits in top of dough with sharp knife to let out steam. Bake in pre heated oven, 350 degrees, for 40 mins or until the internal temp reaches 195. i have tried lots of different bread pans, metal, silicon, but I like th
          Dec. 19, 2009 7:26 am
          The above receipe makes TWO loafs.
          Dec. 23, 2009 5:22 am
          I love to cook and am wanting to take on the baking challenge. Probably a simple question to the pros, but what does the term proofing refer to? Also, don't have a KitchenAid so how do I tell when I've hand kneeded the proper length of time?
          Dec. 28, 2009 11:11 pm
          Stollen is a German Christmas bread with rum soaked raisins,currants and peel.There is an almond log in the center and almonds are added on top.When finished it is dusted with powdered sugar,took a while to make but very much worth it.
          Dec. 29, 2009 2:02 pm
          Hello Cynthia Falwell here is a perfect whole wheat bread recipe i came across yesterday it was my first time making bread and i tell you it was wonderful even my husband loved it and he is big on a certain store brand bread so it even empressed me. go to (simple whole wheat bread) here on allrecipes let me know how you make out with this one. i made two loafs instead of the three it makes and i added 1/3 cup of flax seed meal and baked it for 27 minutes, before i put it in the oven i sprinkled garlic salt of top when it came out i spead butter on top.. you will do just fine, with this one.
          Jan. 5, 2010 6:14 am
          Gary, All proofing means is allowing the dough to rise through time. This is the "proof" that the yeast is active and the bread will rise in the oven. As far as kneeding the bread you want the dough to be elastic and when you stick your finger into it the dinples stay depressed. Triak and error is the best thing you can do for this. Start with 10 mins kneeding and cook your bread, next loaf kneed for 11 and so on till you find what works best for your mixer and Oven.
          Jan. 21, 2010 3:19 pm
          A good way to test if your dough has been kneaded long enough is to take a ping pong ball size piece and stretch it with your fingers in opposite directions. if it stretches enough to see light through it without tearing right away it is ready. Do not over knead it.
          Feb. 11, 2010 8:37 am
          I'm glad, very glad, having read this. My rolls never did come out 100% right, but they were edible. Reading this gives me some education that I need. I thank you very much.
          Feb. 20, 2010 11:22 am
          This looks really interesting to me, cuz I like to bake things!! It really looks good to me!! I'll have to try this recipe sometime!! Thanks!!
          Feb. 21, 2010 4:36 pm
          good recipe
          Feb. 27, 2010 12:11 pm
          I think im going to try this!
          Mar. 10, 2010 4:31 am
          May 12, 2010 5:47 pm
          I have complete success with rising bread and would like to share to share two easy tips. First, when combining the warm liquid and the yeast, I just nuke the liquid in the microwave about 15-30 seconds,then I check it with my finger. If it feels only warm, not hot to the touch, I pour it into the bowl, keeping in mind that it will cool as it hits the bowl. I check it again the be sure it feels warm to the touch - just a bit warmer than my finger. Then I add the yeast and proceed from there. Secondly, I think the absolute best place to let the dough rise is in the oven. I put it in with a towel over it and turn the oven on as if I am preheating. IMPORTANT: I stand at the oven and count to 30 (I do not walk away or I will forget!)Then I turn off the oven. When I put my hand inside, it is slightly warm from the oven beginning to heat. Perfect environment and no drafts. Sometimes I check and heat it up again if I feel it has cooled off.
          May 17, 2010 8:17 pm
          I have been making Challah in my bread machine. I found the recipe in the book that came with the machine. I make the dough in my bread machine & then form it by hand braiding it..I let it rise in my warm oven,..not hot until high & then put an egg wash on it & bake for about 25 mins. I bake it on a cookie sheet....may not be proper but we love it. Never eat store bread!
          May 25, 2010 7:50 pm
          I made bread in a machine for years until I bought a copy of 'Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day'. The recipes in this book produce the best tasting, crustiest bread I have ever eaten and it is as quick and easy as the recipes promise. You don't have to knead it; just mix four ingredients in a plastic bin and keep in the fridge. Every morning I rip off a chunk of dough, let it rise for 40 minutes and bake it. Bread heaven!
          May 31, 2010 10:06 am
          My first comment is that I find I have better luck with Red Star yeast then I do with Fleischmann's. Has anyone else had this experience? Secondly, If I make my doughs with a breadmaker, but only use the dough cycle, how do I know what temperature to use and how long do I bake? I've been using an instant thermometer to check the internal temperature to around 180-200. It seems to work.
          lalarukh rohail 
          Jun. 7, 2010 7:37 am
          i love this recipe.thanks for wonderful recipe.
          Jul. 25, 2010 10:08 am
          @BobT When you say new spiral kneader are you talking about the new spiral bread hook or something else I should be on the look out for?
          Aug. 2, 2010 10:06 am
          Step #5 is not complicated as it states. If you lightly oil the work surface it helps create tension and as you roll the dough forms a tight ball with a tension over the top surface. After a try or two you should form the balls with ease! :) I am also a scale convert! It gives you uniformity of size ya just cant get guessing if they are the same.
          Aug. 11, 2010 2:36 pm
          I agree with Tride. Although I have made bread for many years, this method she talks about in "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" is the easiest and most foolproof method you could ever use. I now have the book "Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a day" also and it is equally as good.
          Aug. 20, 2010 12:28 am
          I'm from Singapore. I have been trying to make bread for a while. I find that the longer I knead the dough the stickier it gets and I keep adding flour until I've been kneading for 15 to 20 min: I plonk it into the loaf pan and hope for the best! Although the bread turns out fine, I haven't been able to get those smooth looking doughs to make bread rolls, etc. Typical recipe is 3 to 3 1/4 c flour, 300ml water, 1 satchet yeast, 1 tsp salt. Humidity here is high, in the 70s and 80s, and room temp is 27 to 29 Celsius. Thanks
          Sep. 8, 2010 12:03 am
          I have a question, l made some rolls but was wondering why they didn't get that nice dark shiny brown on the top?
          Oct. 3, 2010 10:15 pm
          i've made dinner roll dough in a breadmaker, formed and brushed w/ egg wash before baking to get a shiny brown crust. i believe butter does a soft brown crust.
          Oct. 3, 2010 10:57 pm
          my question: my breadmaker dough cycle always made perfectly "smooth and elastic" dough, why does the standmixer dough look and feel so different? i stop adding flour when it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. i'm afraid to overknead, what's the best way to tell when to stop? the window pane?
          lucy marete 
          Oct. 22, 2010 7:42 am
          my rolls comes out hard and compat inside where do i go wrong
          Nov. 1, 2010 4:46 am
          I use a Cuisinart 7 Qt. stand mixer at home. I'm a baker by trade and, at work, use a mixer that is capable of handling 200 lbs. of flour. The best rule of thum to follow, for a good, pliable, well developed dough is to use 60% water in your bread dough. That is, if you're using 3 1/2 cups of flour, use 1 1/5 cups of water. Start the mixing cycle on low. When everything has incorporated, switch to a medium speed and mix for about 8 to 10 minutes. The more that you mix the dough, the more that the temperature rises due to the friction created by the mixing process. Be careful to not over mix. One more note, flours change with the seasons. Water is never a given. Water, proofing times and baking times are variable according to the seasons and the conditions of your particular kitchen.
          Nov. 1, 2010 4:48 am
          Sorry..... Made a mistake! 2 1/2 cups of flour, use 1 1/2 cups water.You want yoyur finished dough to be in the range of 78 to 80 degrees.....
          Jan. 6, 2011 1:34 am
          I've found putting dough in an oven with ONLY the light on works great for dough rising.There is no draft and the light gives off just enough heat.Be sure not to preheat oven with dough inside.
          Feb. 1, 2011 7:40 am
          Wow! Such wonderful ideas! It is so cold outside today, I got the urge to bake some bread. I have a breadmaker, but I have never tried it any other way. The tips/recipes/advice given here inspire me :) Scruggs420 - Bless your heart for making that bread for the Woman! Thank you to everyone!
          mkah mvet 
          Feb. 9, 2011 2:21 pm
          @zeebee There is no exact time to knead any dough. The trick is to know what it should look at feel like. It's worth kneading a batch of dough by hand to see how it eventually gets tough and starts to get the ragged over-worked look. That also gives you room to experiment with adding flour to get an idea of what 'just right' looks and feels like. @lucy marete Make sure your yeast isn't old. Yeast is a living thing and can die if you store it too long. There also tends to be a misunderstanding of what "rise and punch" means. Before the rising phase shape your dough as described in this article, put in an oiled bowl and spray with pan spray. Once it's done rising turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and re-shape it as described in this article. Yeast is a living thing and tends to grow in colonies. Gently working the dough will get the newly grown yeast and remaining air spread evenly throughout the dough. Once the rolls are shaped and washed (a mix of egg and water brus
          Mar. 26, 2011 11:50 am
          i've been making bread with a machine for a while, then only with to mix the dough then oven bake on a stone, then i got a new kitchen aid type mixer. so many of my questions were answered here, great idea to put in oven for rising, (less than 50 degrees celcius), kneading type and more, thanx to all
          Mar. 26, 2011 11:50 am
          kneading time, is what i meant above
          Apr. 19, 2011 6:21 am
          Would like to know in which direction to roll up nut rolls so the filling is thicker on the inside, from top to bottom or side to side. Pfef.
          Jul. 15, 2011 8:41 am
          Tride: May I have a copy of your artisan bread. Thanks
          Jul. 18, 2011 9:34 am
          Thank you very much for letting me read this. Every bread I make turns out just fine, except the one I made yesterday. I think I know the mistake I made, but I'm still not positive about it Tips & Advice are giving me a lot of things I should change my ways about. Thanks again for giving me the advice.
          Sep. 19, 2011 3:20 pm
          supid oh yeah
          Aug. 14, 2012 7:38 pm
          I always had trouble making bread and rolls until I saw a woman on an old Julia Child show use a bread maker to make her dough. It makes it easier for me since I have arthritis in my hands and have a hard time kneading. I then shape my dough into whatever I want and now I am making great breads and rolls. I also switched to SAL yeast which I purchase over the Internet.
          Aug. 18, 2012 7:28 am
          I've been using my Breadman Ultimate bread machine to make bread for a number of years now; it does a wonderful job. There's a terrific bread machine recipe on this site. It's called "Honey of an Oatmeal Bread," but I simply call it "The Perfect Loaf" because that's exactly what it is, perfect in every way! I make it about three to four times a week. I don't buy store-bought bread anymore! I can't cook worth a tinker's . I'm a baker all the way. As poster SCRUGGS420 discovered, apparently by trial and error, yes, when baking, you do need to be exact with your measurements. Baking is kitchen chemistry, and if your measurements aren't precise, your recipes aren't going to come out right consistently. My grandmother used to say from time to time that her pulla (Finnish Coffee Bread) didn't always come out the same way every time. I never told her to her face, but when she'd say that, I'd think, "Well, that's because you never measure anything!" When you don't measure, you don't get co
          Jan. 9, 2013 9:44 am
          thx ilove bread
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