The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is this actually working?

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

Is this actually working?

I checked Hamelman's  "Bread" out of the library, mostly because I wanted to learn to braid the Winston Knot. While thumbing through the book, I came across a section on scoring loaves and according to him I've been doing it all wrong. He insists that the slashes start on the left end of the bread and work toward the right AND the slashing stroke should be done left to right - backhanded. How could this possibly make a difference?
Well, yesterday I needed a "quickie" baguette and after the final proof decided, "What the hey?" and tried Hamelman's technique. The first cut I tried was too deep and just dragged the dough, so I lightened my touch and sort of scratched the surface. Disappointed in my attempts, I put the bread in the oven and this is what came out.


 This morning, I tried it again on some Anis baguettes:


 Both of these were 75% hydration doughs and I've never had this kind of success on wetter doughs.

I don't understand it, but I'm going to keep doing it until something better comes along.



SteveB's picture

Larry, those are some fine looking loaves!  And I'll bet they taste as good as they look. 


dmsnyder's picture

Those baguettes look wonderful, Larry.

Regarding scoring: I can't imagine doing it otherwise than what you describe. Are you left handed, perhaps?


Eli's picture

I slash the same way and figured that out the hard way. I thought it works for me but seems somewhat unatural since I look like I am about to play the bread like a violin. Good to know that I was finding my way.

Great looking loaves with a beautiful grigne! Would love to see the crumb! I can almost smell them!



Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark


Those baguettes are long gone, but the crumb looked very much like the first Anis Baguettes I made.

David, no I'm not left handed. This new slashing approach seems left handed to me. 


The first Anis baguette


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I suppose it has to do with the "grain" or the direction of the gluten threads in the shaped dough. Come to think of it, slashing against the grain or with the grain would make a big difference.

That makes a lot of sense. in some loaves it is crucial to get a specific tight grain structure for a specific slash. Some people are naturals at it and some (like me) have to learn it. If you can visualize the grain or gluten strands in the loaf, then it goes to reason that you can also play with it. (Am I adding new terminology here, what is the correct term for grain?)

Thanks for sharing, back handed eh?  Your bags are beauts!  :)

Mini O

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

in the past,  the last cut  always seemed to be in the way of the one that was to follow it. With this "backhanded" technique, that wasn't a problem. The other thing is the shallowness of the slash - as I said, it's more like a scratch. In my lower hydration sourdoughs, a deep cut is easy to do and looks good on the finished loaf. After a couple more practice runs on the baguettes, I'll be anxious to try my luck on some ciabatta. 


Janedo's picture

This is the way I slash, too. When you get used to it, you won't believe you ever did it any other way. I tried a whole bunch of ways and when I saw the bakers in Anis's bakery, I tried and it worked the best.

Nice baguettes! You've got that mastered.


Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

 Anyway, I went back and looked at the "La Scarification" videos here:

and sure enough, regardless of the patern, they are slashing the way Hamelman suggests. I will change my ways.


Soundman's picture


Gorgeous loaves! And frankly that's what really counts.

I've never thought much about the direction I was slashing, since until recently I was always worried about dragging the lame through the dough. But like other commenters I naturally went for the backhand slash. The reason it makes sense to me is purely physiological (though Mini Oven may be onto something about grain in gluten): if I slash forehanded, I'm limited in how long a slash I can make -- my arm bumps into my torso -- but backhand I could slash a 3 foot long baguette, no problem!

Now I want to watch the video you linked.

Thanks for showing these beautiful loaves!

Soundman (David)

ehanner's picture

Thanks for pointing out the slashing detail Larry. I never gave it much thought before you brought it up. I can see where it would feel better ergonomically and it sure seems to work. The video link is pretty clear as you say every one of those cuts are back handed.

Very nice looking Baguettes! I love the flavor of that formula. It's very full of after taste.