Properly shaping homemade sourdough bread is key to achieving beautiful artisan-style loaves. The right shaping techniques help to create sufficient structure in the dough, which in turn affects the final texture and appearance of the bread.
Fold the edges of the dough towards the center, rotating the dough slightly with each fold. Repeat until you’ve created a tight, rounded shape. Flip the dough over and gently rotate it in a circular motion, tucking the edges underneath to create more surface tension. Then, transfer the dough to a round banneton with the seam-side facing up.
Fold the bottom edge of the dough up towards the center. Repeat with the left and right side. Then, fold the top down towards the middle, to create an even package. Lastly, roll the dough up on itself into a tight cylinder. Transfer the dough to an oval proofing basket with the seam-side facing up.
During shaping, the dough is gently stretched and folded to create surface tension. This helps to trap the gases produced during fermentation and contributes to a good rise and an open crumb structure.