The Fresh Loaf

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Score Opens as Bracket instead of Parenthesis

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varda's picture
varda

Score Opens as Bracket instead of Parenthesis

I made a loaf today that seemed in very good shape - starter was properly fed, well developed dough, I didn't get impatient with the proof and so forth.   So was disappointed to see that my single long slash opened like a bracket instead of a parenthesis.   I slashed at an angle with a razor.   It is not curved but I wouldn't think that would matter for this issue.    I used a pan of water below the loaf and a towel pan on each side - removed after 20 minutes.   If this were the only time this had happened I wouldn't sweat it, but it isn't.   Any ideas?   Thanks!  -Varda

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Varda.

From your photo, the slash ended up perfectly. The problem (if it's a problem at all) is with the bloom spreading at an uneven rate. The darkest part of the bloom opened up first, the lightest part opened last. So, if you had made a video of the loaf during the first part of the bake, you would have seen the very center of your slash opening up first. As the loaf continued to expand, the slash continued to "unzip" from the center to either end. Finally, the bloom became nicely symmetrical, but it left a wedge-shaped darker bloom in the center of the loaf.

I hope my attempt to describe this is sufficiently clear.

Now, I can imagine two possible causes of this: One would be if you varied the depth of your cut or the angle of the blade so it was different in mid-cut. The other would be an uneven tension in the gluten sheath you created when shaping the loaf or how you sealed your inner seams while shaping.

In any case, I don't see this as a very serious problem. In fact, if you could learn how to control it, you could create all sorts of attractive and entertaining patterns in your bloom.

David

varda's picture
varda

David,  Your focus on the sequence of the bloom reminds me that their was a dip in the middle of the loaf perhaps exactly where the darker indentation is at around 10 minutes in, with both ends having risen faster than the middle.   I walked out of the room then, and when I came back 10 minutes later, the rise was properly convex.   So this seems almost opposite of what you are saying but your point that the darker section must have opened first seems right.   I'm thinking that my cut was quite uniform - a single quick slash - so now I'm thinking that it may have to do with how I shape.   I'm not sure what you mean by "inner seams."   What are the inner seams?   I take the dough, stretch it out into a rough rectangle short side parallel to counter and then roll away from me while tucking in the ends with my pinkies following Cyril Hitz.   So there are no inner seams.   Ah, with a Hamelman type method I guess there would be.   I simply can't make a loaf with Hamelman's method - it's just too hard.   (And by the way, you are one to say that this is not a problem, when you got that absolutely perfect opening on your Pain au Levain the other day.)   Thanks so much for your thoughts on the subject.  -Varda

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Varda,

It's just the one slash? You not going over the cut again to tidy it up or alter it?

It looks great by the way ...

I would agree with David that I would be looking at shaping first, then razor angle and consistent depth.

Cheers,
Phil

varda's picture
varda

Phil,  I do sometimes go back and tidy up a score (my bad) when the blade skips and misses a spot for instance, but not this time.   I wonder if, as you say, my shaping method is actually leading to this.   Perhaps the dough is a little denser at both ends because I'm tucking it in at the ends as I roll forward.   Maybe I need to be a little less enthusiastic about tucking.   Thanks for helping me think through this.  -Varda

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I want you to teach me how to do that after you figure out why and how it happens.  David's explanations sound reasonable.  My 'double y chicken foot' slash never looked that good :-)

varda's picture
varda

the wise guy.   Sheesh.  -Varda

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I really do have a 'double y chicken foot slash' that I blogged about...  I'm quite proud of it,  and I really do want to learn how to make a slash like yours.  And I'm not an Italian Mafioso, at least not today :-) 

jcking's picture
jcking

Varda,

I've been having better results scoring a loaf 5 to 10 minutes before loading into the oven.

Jim

varda's picture
varda

That goes against the "get it in the oven right after you score it" credo.   Interesting.   Having given this matter much more thought than I should have, I would say that there is a uniform opening earlier in the bloom.   Then the two ends rise more than the middle and open more or less correctly starting to produce an ear.   When the middle starts to catch up the loaf is already bigger at the ends and the crust has already started to form despite the steam and so there is a jagged tear.   So more steam perhaps.   Better shaping perhaps.   Any ideas why scoring earlier works?   -Varda

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

A deeper, vertical, early slash might result in a wider bloom in a low-hydration loaf. However, if you want to create a good ear in a higher-hydration loaf, early scoring would risk the flap you create with angled scoring to re-seal, preventing ear formation during oven spring.

David

jcking's picture
jcking

Hello David,

Yes higher-hydration requires different handling. And how deep one scores has an effect. Looking at the process I use, earlier slashing works for me. For me I guess it's a little insurance against loaf spread. I'm baking mostly rounds at 68% hydration, with pre-ferments, and not concerned too much with ears. I cover my loaves and don't use steam. I respect your baking abilities and admire the outstanding loaves you've posted.

Jim