How to Shape a Sourdough Boule (Round Loaf)

Learn how to shape a boule (round loaf) for fluffy sourdough bread!

Boule translates to "ball" in French and is the term used for loaves of sourdough shaped into a round shape. This is the classic shape that most people use to make artisan sourdough bread.

Remove the dough from the bowl with a bowl scraper and place it on the floured work surface.

Stretch all sides of the dough until it is about ¾-1" thick.

The shape should resemble a circle, but it doesn't need to be perfect.

Fold the edges of the dough towards the middle.

Fold all the edges toward the middle to form a round shape.

Squeeze the seams together to form a ball.

Flip the dough ball over and use a bench scraper to pull the sides of the dough under the bottom. This creates surface tension on the outside of the loaf which helps it rise better in the oven. Repeat on all sides of the dough ball until a uniform circle is formed and the outer layer of dough is stretched tight over the inside dough.

Place the dough ball, seam side up, in the floured banneton. Squeeze the seams together until they are sealed.

Spread a little bit of flour over the seam so it's not sticky. Cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1-24 hours. (3-4 hours is the sweet spot. 24 hours will have a very crispy crust.) This is called the cold proof or second rise.

Follow the recipe below for complete baking instructions!