The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ragged Slashing

davidg618's picture

Ragged Slashing

Here are two loaves I just baked that illustrate my problem: ragged slashing.

I mix almost all my lean dough breads at 68% to 72% hydration.  I shape them as baguettes, batards, and boules. I've used razor blade lames, single edge razor blades, three different serrated edge blades, and an antique straight razor. I've also dampened the blades, and oiled them. I've tried slow speed slashing, lightning speed slashing, and going-over-twice-or-more slashing. In all cases, except, sometimes, cuts perpendicular to the doughs' surface (boules are the only shape I've done this way) the blades snag in the dough and create a ragged "saw-toothed" edge on the gringe, and it opposite side. Dipping the blade in oil helps a little, but in multiple slashes (baguettes) the blade still snags in the last one or two.  I see countless surgeon-smooth slashes here on TFL, and the uncountable number of Utube videos I've watch for guidance.

What am I doing wrong?

David G

Ford's picture

I use a well sharpened carving knife (not serated) that I oil with Pam before slashing and I get smooth cuts.  Try reoiling after every third slash.


davidg618's picture

I've been dipping the blade in canola oil, hadn't thought about spray-on.


David G

Leandro Di Lorenzo's picture
Leandro Di Lorenzo

sometimes this happens when you use too much steam... Or a late steam. This will make the bread rise more,, causing the cuts to look ragged. But those loaves look amazing. Very appealing... Congrats BTW!!!! :D

davidg618's picture

I see the raggedness of the cut when I slash it. I do agree, though, that oven spring--aided by lots of steam--sometimes acerbate the problem. The two loaves above exhibit that. Note the late bursting of the crust inside the expansion area. For 750g loaves (~1.5lbs) I steam for 15 minutes. Then I remove the steam source (wet towels on a sheet pan), and vent the oven by switching from conventional bake setting to Convection bake setting.

David G

jcking's picture


Looks like it may be slightly under-proofed since it has expanded (oven sprung) so much. Or maybe next time two slashes. No big deal, I'd eat it anyway :=)))


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, David.

First, I think your loaves look great.

Second, I often get the same effect with doughs over about 70% hydration. I don't let it bother me.

Happy baking!


mcs's picture

When you're using a serrated blade, if you score with the smooth (non-beveled) side against the dough, sometimes the cut will be less ragged.  If you're holding the blade at an angle, then it may require adjusting the way you score from pulling the blade to pushing the blade or scoring opposite-handed so the smooth side of the blade is against the dough.

sam's picture

I understand if that is not what you are aiming for, but I think some amount of ragged cuts makes the bread look...  scrumptious...   :)

Looks great to me.    Nice job in my opinion.




Mebake's picture

Hi David, Nice looking loaves by the way!

After close observation through my oven glass, i learned that oven spring can be influenced by two main things that relate to the oven:

 - How much steam, and when (as leandro pointed out)

 - How close + Heat intensity of the upper element heat sorce. (a function of the position of bread on a rack)

Scoring, in my humble openion, has less influence during oven spring, as does the latter two functions. Sometimes, you slash poorly, and given the proper heat intensity around the loaf, and the right amount of steam, a loaf would bloom neatly.


Chausiubao's picture

I find the proper proof makes scoring a lot easier. If it is overproofed the tension on the top of the shape will looser then desired. That being said, another thing to keep in mind is that the tighter the shape the easier it is to get a clean score. I would say that this is something you might want to think about in addition to all the other pieces of information you're mulling over while troubleshooting. Good luck! 

davidg618's picture

I've got a couple of new ideas to try, but perhaps more importantly, if I don't solve the problem I'm not going to worry about it any more!

David G

ananda's picture

Hi David,

It's great to know your leaven ills are cured, and so good to see you post such fine loaves.

I agree with David, for what it's worth about ragged slashes; it wouldn't bother me!

All good wishes


Franko's picture

The ragged slash certainly doesn't detract from the overall look of your fine loaves, but I understand completely that you'd like to solve this problem. It sounds like you've tried a number of work arounds but maybe I can suggest a couple more that you might try. If the dough surface is too moist the likelihood that the blade will snag is much higher so try letting it air dry slightly for 5-10 minutes before slashing. The type of blade I've had the most success with are the box cutter/utility knife blades that retract into the handle. I like them because they don't flex as much as the thinner razor blade types of lame and the cutting edge is longer, which I feel gives me better control for a clean cut. They can be sharpened with a stone to a very fine edge or replaced entirely after a few uses. The blade I'm still using is about 18 months old with no signs of major wear. Hope this is of some use to you.

Best of luck David,


davidg618's picture

So many TFL'ers have told me "Don't worry about it!' that I've taken that advice to heart. Nonetheless, as you've discerned, it still nags. I slash my loaves immediately after turning them on to the peel, so they are still moist. Also, I have a box of about a dozen replacement blades in my shop. I use a box cutter as an all-purpose bench knife in the shop. I'd thought about using it for slashing loaves, but discarded the idea thinking the bulky handle would interfere. I never thought of just using a blade! I'll give both suggestions a try next bake--which will be tomorrow: baguettes. I'll try the blade first without spraying it with Pam, and then with Pam. (I'm a belt and suspenders kind of guy.)

David G

varda's picture

when my cuts get ragged.   I use a double edged razor blade duct taped to a pencil.   I like the pencil because it is sturdy and with the duct tape there's no bending at the connection point.    When I forget to change the blade regularly, I'm reminded by ragged cuts.   I discard the old blade, get out a new one, and voila - no more ragged edges.   YMMV.  -Varda