The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Impact of Dough Consistency on SLASHING

Neil C's picture
Neil C

Impact of Dough Consistency on SLASHING

There's been much written about slashing direction and angle.  However, I haven't seen any comments on the consistency of the dough itself.  My slashing is generally 'hit or miss' and was wondering if anyone has any suggestion on 'dough quality' in this regard.


I use both a lame and a Kyocera ceramic tomato knife.


Most of my baking is making 71% hydration no-knead baguettes.  My dough may be underdeveloped, as my baguettes are usually 'East-West' in shape.  Another factor is that my dough is usually more extensible than elastic.


Would appreciate any and all suggestions.


Thanks,


 


Neil C in Denver, CO

benjamin's picture
benjamin

so many factors are going to affect how the scoring of your loaves opens up in the oven. Steam is a huge one, you can find more info on this site regarding this matter, suffice it to say, adequate steaming is essential.


Since you bring up dough consistancy, definition and opening of scoring is inversely proportional to the hydration. If we look at ciabatta, the hydration is so high, and the dough is so loose that even if one were to score it, the slash would not open up in the oven.


If you are interested in improving the look of your scoring, 71% hydration is certainly do-able, but to get some practice you may want to start with 65%, this will be much more forgiving and enable you to develop your skills before moving up in hydration.


ben

Neil C's picture
Neil C

Ben,


Thanks for your prompt response and ideas.  I'll try lowering my hydration for practice. 


Again, thanks,


 


Neil

benjamin's picture
benjamin

so many factors are going to affect how the scoring of your loaves opens up in the oven. Steam is a huge one, you can find more info on this site regarding this matter, suffice it to say, adequate steaming is essential.


Since you bring up dough consistancy, definition and opening of scoring is inversely proportional to the hydration. If we look at ciabatta, the hydration is so high, and the dough is so loose that even if one were to score it, the slash would not open up in the oven.


If you are interested in improving the look of your scoring, 71% hydration is certainly do-able, but to get some practice you may want to start with 65%, this will be much more forgiving and will enable you to develop your skills before moving up in hydration.


ben

IndoLee's picture
IndoLee

Hi Neil,

Been quite a while since your post but thought I would add my 2 cents anyway: 

High Hydration (HH) doughs (anything over about 70% (some would say even a bit lower) are harder to score than lower hydration doughs - just the way it is.  One good way of overcoming the "drag" we typically get when attempting to score wetter SD and HH doughs is to let the surface of the dough dry a bit near the end of your proofing. 

If you are retarding your loaves, and covering them with plastic or plastic bags, you're going to exacerbate the problem (remember too that exacerbation, of course, should only be done in the privacy of your own home!)

Kidding aside, covering loaves during or after proofing, especially with plastic bags, and even more so, bagging and regrigerator retardion, tends to create condensation on the inside of the bag due to the covered, warmer/room temp dough coming into contact with the cooler frig air/temp.  (Remember grade-school science: warmer air hold more moister than cooler air and cooling warm moist water-laden air causes a release of much of that water?)  So... you're making a little "rain-forest" in your proofing bag, and much of that moisture ends up on the top surface of your loaf.

Long story short, try uncovering your HH doughs for the last few minutes of proof - long enough to get a relatively dry surface "skin", which then will allow much cleaner, less ragged slashes. 

This little tip helped me immensely.  Hope it does for you too. 

PS:  If you do get a ragged, scarry looking slash, try immediately scoring the same slash, at the same angle but in the opposite direction - slicing over the "flaps" of the scars when you reverse direction, and going a bit deeper on the 2nd pass.  Works for me.

 

Neil C's picture
Neil C

Thanks for your excellent suggestions.

Sorry for the late response, but we've been traveling during the holiday season and I didn't have a chance to use your suggestions. 

Your suggestion on drying the outside skin and not covering them definitely did the trick.  Previously, I've covered them with a 12" high cloche.  This evening, I covered them loosely with a towel and they scored much better.  On the slashes which didn't come out too well, I turned the loaves around and reslashed them at the same angle and same direction.  Definitely an excellent technique.

Again, thanks for your help and have a very Happy New Year,

Neil C. in Denver Colorado