Tricks and tips for shaping “logs” of dough
Once your dough is mixed, make sure it’s not too soft to shape. Stash it in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes or until it’s firm enough to handle. If it becomes too firm, just let it stand at room temperature until it’s malleable.
When shaping dough into cylinders, sprinkling a thin dusting of flour (no more than a teaspoon) on the rolling surface can help make the logs easier to handle.
Moistening your hands ever so slightly can make shaping easier.
Put the cylinders of dough on plastic wrap at least 6 inches longer than the length of the log.
Take care not to roll the logs any longer than 10 inches; dough that you’ll roll in nuts or other coatings will lengthen when coated, so start them off slightly shorter.
As you wrap the log in plastic, roll tightly and tug on the ends to tighten the plastic and to smooth any creases.
To secure the plastic, twist the ends well; then roll the dough back and forth to eliminate any air pockets.
To compact the log, push the ends of the cylinder firmly toward the center.
To keep your perfectly shaped round log from flattening out on the bottom while it chills, try these ideas:
Turn frequently. Put the logs on a level shelf or flat baking sheet in the refrigerator or freezer and turn each log every 15 minutes for the first hour. As the logs chill, the bottoms will flatten from the weight of the dough. To correct this, remold the logs by rolling them back and forth a few times on the countertop.
Use a cradle. If you happen to have a baguette pan, it makes a perfect cradle for chilling logs of dough. If you don’t, save a few empty paper towel rolls, cut each in half lengthwise to make two cardboard troughs with rounded bottoms, and then place a log in each half for chilling. For both of these methods, after the logs have chilled for 15 to 20minutes, turn them over once and chill until firm.