In Artisan 1 5-day workshop, we use baguette dough as a medium to explain different styles of mixing, fermentation, preferments, etc. Students get to practice a lot of baguette shaping - Baguette is the most challenging form to shape correctly, and other forms like boules and batards become easier to learn once you master this.
First, the dough should be cut to an even square to form an even cylinder preshape. Gentle pressure is applied to create a tension on the skin.
The dough is covered and rested for about 20-30 minutes before final shaping. The gluten is allowed to relax, and the dough re-gains the extensibility during the resting time.
On the final shaping, the dough is folded total of 3 times. This series of folding reinforces the tightness of the skin, creating a nice round cross-section when baked.