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I am currently making Poolish Ciabatta bread from the recipe in Bread Bakers Apprentice. Within the recipe, one of the methods used to shape and work the dough is the "Stretch and Fold" method. Essentially, you stretch the bread until it is a long rectangle and then you fold the two sides down letter style.

My question is, does it matter what direction to fold the dough in. Do I have to continue folding in the same direction so the bread dough begin to "line up" the gluten development?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Stretch and fold should be done in both directions.

One stretch and fold, in most techniques that I read, is stretching like you stay, folding, then rotating 90 degrees and repeating.

You can see an excellent example of stretch and fold in this video and here. Where they do it and then turn it - that's one stretch and fold.

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The directions given in BBA are a bit ambiguous - the photos just show folding in one direction. FWIW jay, I folded as per @rfusca's videos and it worked a treat. – ElendilTheTall Feb 28 '12 at 9:05

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