The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Slashing bread

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Christina's picture
Christina

Slashing bread

In the book "The Bread Book" by Linda Collister and Anthony Blake, the first recipe in the book is for a basic half white flour and whole-wheat flour bread. It is baked free-form. One of the last steps says, after you finish shaping the loaf, to slash the dough and then let it rise. I have made this loaf a few times and although it tastes good, I was wondering if anyone knew how slashing it before rising affects it differently than slashing after rising. I was curious, as none of the other recipes in the book say to slash before, but alway after.
-Christina

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Hmmm, I dunno -- I've always slashed my bread just prior to baking so that, when it springs in the oven, it not only springs higher but also doesn't blow through the side or top of the bread in an ugly protuberance.

But I suppose slashing early *might* help the shaped loaf rise higher ...?

qahtan's picture
qahtan

I always slash moments before going in the oven.qahtan

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Christina's picture
Christina

Right, that is what I always heard. I'm still not sure how slashing before benefits the loaf and since I haven't actually slashed anything yet, I have nothing to compare the difference with. I think the oven spring on the loaf slashed before is about the same as loaves I make in a bread pan (where I don't slash it). However, I don't think it's the same spring as that of a loaf slashed after rising.
Qahtan, the crust on your bread looks amazing. It has a nice crackly texture.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Actually, I've found that slashing my bread, even when it's baked in pans, has helped oven spring quite a bit. I like a tall loaf when it comes to sandwich bread, and a slash down the center helps out quite a bit in that department.

You can see the results in this post here.

As you can see, the slashes, which were about 1/4 inch deep, expanded to about a 1 inch wide slash in the oven. If I hadn't slashed, I'm sure I'd have had smaller loaves or unsightly tears.

But I've got to catch it just right, when the dough fills in only slowly after a solid prod from a wet finger. If I let it overproof, the slash doesn't do diddly, and I get no spring at all.

I also find that it helps to steam the oven with about 1 to 2 cups of boiling water in a cast iron pan on the oven floor. Significantly bigger spring, even with panned loaves.