The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Slashing and Springing

jmax's picture

Slashing and Springing


Thought I'd ask this on this wonderful site: I've been making simple bread (4 ingredients) more or less according to the descriptions I've found here, and it all seems to working out pretty well. With one exception:

How on earth do I slash the top of the loaf properly before baking? Whenever I try it, my knife snags the crust (it's been sitting rising for an hour or so, so there's already something of a 'crust'), makes a mess, lets gas out of the loaf, and ultimately doesn't amount to much in the finished product. I'm missing something here.

Any tips?

Floydm's picture

Do you cover the loaves while they are rising? I put my pans in clean garbage bags while they are rising and then tuck the opening underneath, so they rise in a little airtight tent. I get very little drying out while they are rising. The only times I get a noticeable crust is when there is a hole in the bag.

I'm guessing that is your problem. The crust also prevents proper oven spring, so it is a good thing to try to avoid.

The other thing I can think to check for is how deep you are scoring. If you cuts are going more than 50% of the way through your loaf, they are going in too deep for most types of bread. Ease up and see if that makes a difference.

I hope that helps.

qahtan's picture

I have found if I try and slash just sort of like slicing a tomato
front first it doesn't work, but if I start at the handle end of a sharp knife or blade back near the handle and just slice it to the tip it does a good job. I hope you can understand how I mean, :-))) qahtan

jmcbride's picture

I've heard to try spraying your blade with cooking oil spray. Or I suppose lubricating with cooking oil would work.

I tried it this weekend and found it really helped the blade slice the dough with very little "dragging".


mrpeabody's picture

I've tried with a clean razor blade. It works but I'm not very good at it. By the way, based on qahtan's comments, I know from my own knives that usually the front end of the knives dull sooner than the rear end (I think that that part of a knive gets beat up more during regular use). I try to compensate with regular honings but my guess is that this might explain, in part, qahtan's observation.

Mr. Peabody

ncwbaker's picture

I have found good success with a tomato knife (victorinox 4 i/2" serrated blade) (item # V 87503) $3.99 from Smoky Mountain Knife Works. It's like a rounded end steak knife. It comes with a plastic sheath and I don't use mine for anything but slashing bread to be baked.

KNEADLESS's picture

I just tried using a serated knife that I use for slicing bread and it made slashing a snap. Surprisingly. it did not snag the dough.

jmax's picture

I finally got around to it again and took some of the advice here to heart: I sealed up my rising loaves to keep the dough moist and supple, and I tried a serrated knife. That, plus incorporating some advice from the next forum over about using parchment to get loaves onto the stone, and I had the two best loaves I've ever made. Lots and lots of oven spring! I'm still not entirely happy with the slashes, but the overall effect was pretty satisfying. Thanks to everybody who helped out here.

nfchef's picture

Not to beat a dead horse!
Slash as deep as an inch. Small rolls about a half inch. The nicest slashes are made by holding the knife (bread slicing is best)so that the blade cuts sideways, almost as if it were peeling the crust, rather than cutting downward into the loaf. When done, the slashes open upward as the loaf rises during its spring in the oven. Works best with French breads.

dhedrick's picture

I've also found that the best thing to do isn't using an oil on my knife before slashing, but actually dipping in water before each cut - it has worked wonders for me!

Elagins's picture
I second dhedrick. I've gotten my best results with a really sharp serrated knife (Cutco or something similar) dipped in water. I've also tried using a home-made lame and my results are the same as the name, but with US pronunciation ... totally lame LOL. The only thing I can figure is that lames work best on firm (60%-65%) doughs and suck on anything slacker.