Slashing and Scoring
Slashing, as opposed to Scoring, is a deep, decisive cut through the bread. This is generally performed just before placing the dough in the oven because the harsh cut breaks the dough’s surface tension and it quickly starts to lose structure. Slashing is done to intentionally to create a weak spot on the surface of the loaf to help prevents the loaf from bursting out at other weak spots which created during shaping.
French rye breads (pains de siegle) are sometimes scored right after shaping, before proofing.
Scoring on the other hand are less deep cuts, usually a couple mm thick. Scoring can also be used to create beautiful patterns and designs on bread or many people use stencils to decorate their bread. Although not as deep as slashes, these also play in a part in giving bread the room to grow and expand in a controlled manner.
• CONTROLS how the dough expands during “oven spring”
• PREVENTS BURSTING at weak areas
• ENHANCES the final appearance of the bread
• HELPS WITH EXPANSION and controls the way the bread rises
The type of slash depends on how and where you want the bread to rise, there are different techniques for different types of bread.
Work quickly to get the dough in the oven
- If baking in a pre-heated oven, turn on the oven to at least 200°C/392ºF, once heated, add two big glasses of water to a dish on the bottom shelf
- Remove cold dough from fridge, tip out onto a parchment-lined baking tray, gently brush dough with a pastry brush to make an even coating of flour
- Score your pattern, and/or slash your dough in quick, distinct movements. Using a sharp knife, lame or razon blade will minimise tearing the bread.
How to create an 'Ear'
Bread ‘ears’ are highly sought after. They are the flap that is formed and look like a rabbits ‘ear’ when the bread is cook and sliced.
Here are some steps to achieving a ear:
- Your scoring utensil must be held at about 30º to the surface of the dough
- The depth of the cut should be within 0.6 – 1.3 cm or ¼” to ½” deep. If the slash is too deep, the flap may collapse from its own weight
- Slash decisively in one fluid movement and without hesitation. If you hesitate, you risk dragging and tearing the skin of the dough.
- Use a bent razor or blade, as this also helps with your chances. You can buy lames with curved blades or made one yourself putting a razor blad on to a a thin stick like a wooden coffee stirrer.
- Slash the dough with the corner of the razor, not the length of the blade. Use a swift motion with your whole arm, not just your wrist.