Shaping a Round Loaf

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For round loaves (French bakers call it a boule), begin by lining a proofing basket or bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and then flour the towel fairly generously (see Dusting Mixture) (A).

Working on a lightly floured surface, slightly flatten and stretch the dough (B).
Fold the dough in half (C) and, with the folded side facing up, tuck in the sides and the corners to form a ball (D).
With cupped hands, shape the loaf by pulling the dough toward you and slightly to the right or left, allowing friction against the table to help tighten the round (E–G). You may need to repeat this process a few times until the dough is tight enough. The surface will be smooth and firm enough to hold its shape (H).
Place the dough in a bowl and fold the corners of the towel over gently (I).