The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Slashing the top of a loaf with a wet dough

Margog's picture
Margog

Slashing the top of a loaf with a wet dough

Hello,

 

I am a newby to sourdough bread. Most or the recipes I have come across instruct the baker to cover the rising loaves with a damp cloth and to slash the top with a razor before baking. 

 

Yesterday I had a couple of unbleached white flour loaves  rise for nine hours, until they had risen to the top of their pans. They had that nice round shape on top. But they deflated once I cut into them and did not spring up that much during baking. I used an large exacto knife to cut, the sharpest knife I have.

 

Suggestions? Is it necessary to even slash the dough?  I tried using a dry cloth instead. This makes for easy slashing but a tougher crust.

 

Thanks!

pmccool's picture
pmccool

The deflation was caused by over proofing the dough.  From your description, it sounds as the the dough quantity isn't quite enough to completely fill the pans, even at full proof.  So, when the dough domes at the top of the pan, it has already expanded more than its structure can support. 

For the next bake, try increasing the ingredient quantities by 10-15%.  That's easy enough if you are weighing your ingrediepants but more challenging if you use volume measurements.  The extra dough quantity may be enough to properly fill the pans before the dough is entirely proofed, leaving some margin for oven spring. 

For most panned breads, slashing is the baker's choice.  It is more important if the dough is expected to spring substantially while baking than it is if th dough is at full proof already. 

Paul

Margog's picture
Margog

Hello pmccool,

Thank you for your quick response. Another thing I can do  is use slightly smaller pans.

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Yet another solution. 

Paul

sourdoe's picture
sourdoe

I actually don't score my dough anymore even though I never had this problem but like someone up there said the deflation when you scored it was caused by over proofing. I actually like a very proofed bread because of the flavor/texture and I bake with no bread pan, only a large baking sheet and as a result it's very delicate and I even have my own way of dumping it out of the bowl before forming and putting on the sheet to retain the texture I want. One bad move and it's going to be a very sad, deflated bread and sadly that includes slashing it for mostly looks since I never liked what it did to parts of the inner texture anyways even with high risers.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

9 hours!?!

Can you tell us a bit more about the recipe and where you got it from? Perhaps a tweak here and there could be made.

Margog's picture
Margog

I forget, I got on on the web somewhere! It said "Let rise between 4 and 24 hours". So next time I will use a smaller pan and not slash the top. I have gone pan-free a few times, the results were delicious but funkily shaped.

Thank you so much for coming to my aid. I am very impressed by the knowledge and expertise on this forum. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Does not sound right either. Something isn't adding up.

What kind of bread are you looking for and perhaps we can find a more suitable recipe.  

Margog's picture
Margog

Your basic sourdough with unbleached white flour. I saw such a recipie on this the site.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I'll get back to you with a straight forward recipe. It'll be tomorrow now but do you like a high hydration dough with bigger holes or a less hydrated dough with a tighter crumb?

Margog's picture
Margog

I am all about the holes and hydration! Thanks so much for your help.

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Please check your private messages. Any questions don't hesitate to ask.

Best of luck.

Margog's picture
Margog

I do have one question so far: How hot should the oven be?

 

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

220°C (428°F) for a simple white loaf. If you oven has a fan then you might need to drop the temperature as a fan makes it hotter.

So 220°C (428°F) without a fan OR 200°C (392°F) with a fan.

Different recipes will require different oven temperature. And so do different ways of baking, e.g. on a baking stone, tray or in a Dutch Oven. And of course everyone's oven is different.

I usually bake my breads freestanding on a baking tray and go for a pre-heated oven to 220°C for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

It is difficult but try and introduce some steam into your oven. A popular way is to place a small iron pot, or container of sorts (doesn't have to be iron), on the floor of the oven and pre-heat it together with the oven. Then juts before you load the dough pour into this container a cup of water. Then transfer the dough to the oven and close the door.

It does help a bit but not the most effective way. Depends on your oven. A dutch oven is even better I hear but I don't use this method as I can't find a dutch oven to fit my oven. If you do have one then it will produce a better loaf but baking times/method will differ slightly.