Scaling and benching refers to the step that comes after fermentation where you divide your dough into separate loaves (if doing so), pre-shape them, and let them rest for a period of time. When you divide your dough into equal pieces you want to take care not to over-work the dough, because you will deflate it and it will have a negative effect on its overall rise. I use a scale to make sure that my loaves are going to be the same weight, this way they will bake evenly in the oven together. You can do it by eye if you don’t want to invest in a scale. After you divide and pre-shape the dough then you leave it covered with plastic wrap to rest for ten minutes. This makes it easier to shape, because it allows the gluten in the dough to relax and become more extensible. This is not necessary for all bread shapes, but it is very helpful when preparing recipes for baguettes or foccacia where the dough needs to stretch a great deal.
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