Note: While my wife (!) and I are walking, driving, and eating our way through France on our honeymoon, I wanted to look back at some recipes and techniques I’ve discussed before. Be back in July!
If that post title doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will! Working with the Tartine forumla the past few years has allowed me to get very comfortable with high hydration doughs but there is certainly a learning curve. One of the first sourdoughs I made was about 70% hydration; I now regularly make loaves closer to 85% or 87%. The shaping method relies on being able to carefully handle the dough so that it doesn’t stick to your hands and create surface tension to aide the rise. I filmed the shaping process (though this is for a bench rest) last time I made a few loaves.
I’ve found that one of the keys to the dough not sticking is to handle it delicately, don’t grab onto it too tightly. Dragging it along a surface while rotating and cupping your hands under is an excellent way to create more surface tension in the dough. You’ll notice I do that for both loaves, particularly the second one. The second one stuck to my hands much more despite my best efforts, so I used the drag and turn (my name) method as a way to make sure the dough was shaped properly. I highly recommend working on a surface that won’t move. If you have countertops clean and big enough to do so that is great. I make use of a marble slab which is a step up from the plastic dough mats I used to work on (dough would stick to them and when I picked up the dough the mat came with it!). If you are just starting out working with high hydration doughs know that you will get it!