The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Perfect Slashmarks?

Thaddeus's picture

Perfect Slashmarks?

I was just curious if any of you artisan bakers had good tricks for getting beautiful slashmarks. I have never achieved really beautiful slashes after the bake, and I am wondering if there is something wrong with my technique. here is what I am doing, I hold the lame at a pretty sharp angle, and slash with a gentle sawing motion about 1 cm into the bread. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I tend to get little dog ears on the edges of the slashmarks, and they rarely "open" like the ones on textbook batards, and baguettes. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

SteveB's picture

I've found that an aesthetically pleasing 'opening' of a loaf has more to do with proper dough development, shaping, proofing and oven steaming than it does with the actual mechanics of the slashing itself.

luc's picture

I'd have to agree with SteveB here... often the best opening of the loaf comes down more to the proof times and temperatures than to the slashing.

I don't even use a lame - I just didn't have one and I've always had great results using a serrate bread knife - like you use to cut finished loaves... only just a bit smaller in length.

Paddyscake's picture

Two suggestions..I wouldn't use a sawing motion. Slash with
one firm draw of the blade and make sure you have a sharp
edge. I use a serrated knife also, which is brand new and used only for slashing.

Floydm's picture

I think you are slicing too much across the loaf. You should almost be slashing straight up and down the loaf, something more like:

You start slashing that way and you'll be amazed at how much they open up.

kenaparsons's picture

Excellent pic Floydm (in terms of scoring and the finished loaf). I'd like to see more before/after scoring pics from people on the list. This question on scoring is a good one, and one I've had w/ myself many times in the midst of pre-baking decisions. I always seem to have baking blowouts on one side from an imbalanced or just plain poor slash. But as said, maybe it is my proofing or oven heat distribution.

rmk129's picture

Hello kenaparsons!
I just posted some before/after slashing photos of two Rustic Bread loaves I made today. Even though I have no idea how to slash "properly", I thought they might be interesting for you?

Before & After Photos

sonofYah's picture


I am not an expert bread slasher. But, I am under the tutelage of a master bread maker at the bakery where I am working.

He is a very particular person when it comes to slashing the baguettes. He repeated to me for several loaves that I had to, "hold the lame at a thirty degree angle to the loaf. Keep it level and just cut under the skin of the loaf. don't cut so deep that the edge of the lame catches on the loaf. Use a quick decisive cut. Overlap the cuts 25%. Keep them on top of the loaf. Americans cut down on the sides of the loaves." It's easier with lots of practice, believe me. ;-) This particular slashing technique creates an ear.

If you want to just open up the loaf slightly, you can use a straight in slash about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep on the loaf. According to how much you want it to open up. Again, practice, practice, practice.

He tells me that the slower you cut the more drag you have on top of the loaf. Also, if the dough is very wet, you will get a lot of drag. The trick here is to let the dough air dry the last ten minutes during the final proofing. You can also dust it very lightly with some flour.

If you don't have a lame, you can use a double-edged razor blade broke in half. I read in the book, "Confessions of a French Baker", that the baker's there used an old lid from a tin can.

I will upload some pictures of loaves I did last Wed. They aren't perfect. But he told me they were very good for a beginner. I'll link to them in another message.

keen de'el yeshuati

twistedicthus's picture

Use your wrist for the motion rather than your hand, and try to keep the cuts at an even depth.

dough-re-mi's picture

A bamboo skewer will hold a double edged razor very nicely; I tried a number of things before finally using that.

karin63's picture

Slash marks, it sounds like something terrible. I agree that most of it comes down to bread development. But a really sharp knive does help. I use a scalpel. A trick I got from a professional baker. Makes it really easy to make a clean and desisive slash.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The thought of an open razor gives me the creeps. I use a Scissors and will post as soon as I figure this thing out. Wait till ya'll see ma ears! Oh, and the kids can do it! Mini Oven :)

Darkstar's picture

I am a TOTAL newbie to baking bread however I did make a very nice loaf of the Lesson 2 bread last night and slashed with a single-edge razor blade straight from the hardware store (I did wash it first). The slashes weren't super deep but diagnoal across the loaf. They spread open and did their job of releasing steam well. I liked the look (and taste ;) ) and didn't fret about it one bit.

Francine's picture

I just ordered a Dough Lame from Amazon; however, what I have been using and has worked well, believe it or not, is an electric knife. I was having trouble slashing the first loaf of bread I made and had my electric knife out on the counter and out of pure frustration I tried using it to slash the dough and it worked just great. I hope I will be able to do as well with the  Dough Lame I ordered.