The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

slashing

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varda's picture
varda

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to "take it up a level."   I had hit the wall on getting properly shaped and slashed naturally leavened loaves.    LindyD's recent post http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21045/fire-and-ice-great-oven-steam on generating steam set off a lightbulb in my head.  The symptoms I have been trying to cure are cuts that open a little and then seal over, and a split side.   I had been convinced that this was caused by underproofing even though I was doing my best with the poke test, rise times and so on.   When I read her post I started to wonder if I was having trouble with steam.   I had been preheating a dry jelly roll pan on the base of the oven and pouring in cold water at the same time as loading the loaves.  This sets off a cloud of steam and then the water continues to boil for around 15 minutes before it evaporates completely so I thought I was all set.   But I do have a brand new gas oven and after reading Lindy's post, I began to suspect that it was efficiently venting out steam as fast as I could generate it.   After surfing around a bit, I found the following excellent comment in a post on side splitting  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10363/my-bread-keeps-quotsplittingquot-side#comment-54369.   So I surfed around some more for steaming methods that didn't involve going out and buying rocks and I found the following:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20162/oven-steaming-my-new-favorite-way and I tried it and dramatic improvement.    But it involved a little too much mucking around with steaming hot towels so I experimented some more and came up with a similar, but what seemed to me like a simpler and safer method.   I placed some soaked towels into bread pans half filled with unheated tap water on each side of my stone half an hour before loading the loaves, and let them preheat with everything else.   By the time I loaded the loaves, I got hit in the face with a cloud of steam.   Then fifteen minutes later, I removed the bread pans (with a long tongs) and once again got hit in the face with a cloud of steam, so I figured that the oven had been steamy enough in the interim.    The bottom line is the cuts opened, and the sides did not.   In fact they opened too much.   I have overdone it.   Too much steam?   Something else?   By the way, this site is just fantastic.   I would still be baking out of Clayton using speed em up 70s methods if it hadn't been for all of you.


Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul's picture

Two questions about dealing with dough

October 11, 2010 - 4:48pm -- Paul Paul Paul ...
Forums: 

I have a double whammy here.


 


Alright so I've been making bread lately (along with everyone else in the forum), and I've been having a few problems, about scoring bread, and refrigerating bread. First, about the scoring, i use our biggest knife, and spray it with pam, but it still get a lackluster score in the bread and ends up deflating it. Any help?

Mason's picture

Slashing advice--no grigne

July 8, 2010 - 10:49am -- Mason

I have recently moved from baking Boules (which I usually scored in a square around the edges and got a decent grigne much of the time) to attempting baguettes.


But I can't seem to get the slashes to work right.  


I'm visiting my wife's family, so don't have my own oven, grains, bannetons, etc.  (I packed a smal piece of my sourdough in my luggage though, which my wife thinks is bordering on obsessive, but that's another story ;-)

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I recently baked, for the third time, two sourdough boules, which besides the primary purpose: Eating, tested the effects of slashing, and steaming methods, and the behavior of a new starter. The latter is posted elswhere (Purchased Dried Starter Reactivation Survey).


These loaves were slashed identically, placed in the oven simultaneously, and swapped position after 15 minutes of steaming. The ovenspring realized is shown here,



and from this placement the loaves look acceptably identical. But...



...this is the position they were initially placed in the oven. (Note the asymmetric ovenspring outside-to-center of both loaves. 


I normally create steam with a towel-lined half-sheet pan, wetted with boiling water, and placed below the baking stone. This time, thinking I could direct the steam more toward the edges of the stone and, therefore, better direct the maximum volume of the steam upward toward the loaves, I rolled two small towels and placed them on the extreme ends of the half-sheet pan. 


Two of our regular problem analysts, David and Eric, have argued steam condensing on the bottom of a baking stone causes the stone's surface to cool, and effects ovenspring. I've been a bit skeptical, but I am no longer. It is evident that the rolled towels did focus the steam's rise. but the seventeen-inch pan, below a twenty-inch baking stone created an asymmetric cooled surface on the stone, as is evidenced by the lesser ovenspring on the left and right sides of the left and right loaf respectively. 


Subsequently, I tried placing the pan above the loaves (I've tried it before), rather than below the stone (and the loaves), but I'm still disappointed with the results. I've returned to steaming from below, using a half-sheet pan fully-lined with wetted towels. The ovenspring is again uniform across the loaves, but I suspect reduced from what it could be, due cooling from condensing steam across the entire bottom of the baking stone.


I'm once again rethinking my steaming process. I like the control the wetted towel vs. lava rocks gives me--I can remove the pan safely when steaming time is completed, but I don't want the stone cooling effect. I'm thinking of fabricating and placing two narrow aluminum troughs in the spaces between the stone and the oven's wall, and filling them with wetted towels five or six minutes before loading the loaves. This, of course, will interrupt the heat convection paths on the sides of the stone, but I'm not certain, nor can I guess, how that will effect the baking.


Stay tuned;-)


David G.



davidg618's picture
davidg618

A few of you may recall a short thread I posted last week describing, with photos, the difference between upward oven spring, and overall expansiion of two loaves made from the same batch of dough, baked coincedentally, wherein the only differences were the slashing patterns used, the loaves positions on the baking stone, and one loaf was loaded approximately one minute, or less after the first.


Today I baked two boules of sourdough, made from the same formula as last week, and, of course, from one batch. I did everything as close as possible to what I did last week. I did use a different starter, but that shouldn't and doesn't effect the outcome.


I made two changes: 1) I loaded the loaves simultaneously, and 2) I slashed the same pattern on both loaves.


The concerns voiced last week were what other things might cause the dramatic difference in oven spring? Uneven oven heat distribution? The first loaf "robbing" heat from the baking stone? uneven steam distribution?


Based on what I experienced today I think last weeks differences were due, for the most part, to the slashing pattern difference. The only slight difference I think today's loaves experienced were minor differences in the slashings' depths and lengths, and I believe the skin on the slightly smaller loaf was drawn tighter than the other loaf. I'm still working on my shaping and slashing skills, but I did the best I could.


Here's the photos, including the before loading pics asked for. I'm satisfied my oven and steaming method are both working fine. I welcome any comments.





David G.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

These two loaves were treated identically through bulk proofing. They were divided into exactly equally portions (737g)  both Preshaped, within 30 secs, rested 15 minutes, shaped, proofed, slashed, and loaded into the oven within one minute of each other.  They were Baked, rotating the loaves positons in the oven--after steaming--and removed within a few seconds of each other.


As you can see in the photographs there is a significant difference in the oven spring realized in each loaf. Three things may have effected the difference.


1. I may have tightened the surface skin on one tighter than the other.


2. I turn off the convection mode during steaming; consequently one side of the oven may be hotter than the opposite side.


3. The different slashing patterns restrain or encourage the oven spring upward.


I'm going to repeat this event, as best I can. (This is our weekly, go-to sourdough bread). I will repeat the different slashings, and reverse the loaves' positions in the oven. Otherwise, I will keep all things identical as best I can.


I've had a recent experience with crust bursting on another bread (entirely different, Jewish Rye); it sensitized me to the effects of slashing, although I've wondered about it in past baking, but I've never experienced such a side-by-side difference.




I'll post the results when I do it again.


David G

Baker_Dan's picture
Baker_Dan

Hey everyone! I'm an avid reader as of a few days ago and finally decided to add some content! I"ve been baking at home for a couple years, attended Oregon Culinary Institute for Baking and Pastry, and now work in a test kitchen, baking up yummy deliciousness. I, as many others, have high hopes of someday opening my own bakery right here in Portland and focusing on artisan breads.


Last night I took one of my favorite Italian bread recipes and simply changed it from one loaf to three smaller baguettes. At the time of the picture, one had already been consumed by my girlfriend and a friend that was visiting. I've been working on getting my slashing down on baguettes and think that I finally nailed it here. Let me know what you think!


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