Bread - Scoring or slashing

There is a lot of different reasons given for why we slash bread before putting into the oven.

Many claims involve letting steam out.

I'm finding it almost imposable to tell truth from fiction, so I did a stack of tests for myself, and this is why I think it's done.

I made a loaf that ended up looking like this.

By far my best loaf to date.

It was bread by any standard.

In fact I wouldn't change anything if I wanted to make this style of light white bread.

Luckily for me, for the first time, I took detailed notes of the amounts and durations etc. so I actually have my first recipe.

I will eventually follow some recipes, but for this first stage I want to know why people used x amount of this and that, so I wanted to do the tests myself. I just enjoy exploring, even where it's already been explored. From everything I've read, it's all about very accurate measurements if you are trying to make a particular kind of bread.

I'm finding it pretty easy now to make bread, but I haven't yet tried to make a particular kind of bread.

No doubt that will be an entirely new challenge.

But this post is about slashing the bread with a razor just before putting it into the oven. And it really does need to be a razor. I found everything else pulls the bread and doesn't really cut it decisively, and it's done at just the wrong time to be being rough with the dough.

My loaf had to go into my container with a lid, and it had already risen to the point where, if it went up too much more in the oven it would touch the lid.

If I had left the bread un-slashed, it would rise pretty much equally in all directions. Probably a bit more out, than up because of gravity.

And probably an un-slashed loaf would rise a bit less overall because of having the restriction of its own outer skin.

If I had slashed the bread with a cut across the top (pictured left), I should expect the deepest part of the cut to burst up and become the topmost part of the finished loaf. The sides would "rise" sideways less because all the rising would go up.

What I did was to make 5 cuts around the outside.

I hadn't tried 5 overlapping cuts like this in any of my tests, and really wanted to test my conclusions of those tests.

I figured this should give me the desired result, a well "risen" loaf, but one that didn't go up too much.

I should also point out that the dough was also originally shaped so that it was a flatter wider disc, rather than a high ball, so not all the final shape was due to slashing.

But after the loaf was cut and put into the oven (250c preheated with 4 cast iron plates in the bottom), the first few minutes saw the loaf starting to change shape.

At first the top rose a bit, and the cuts opened out a little.

But within 5 minutes, the top had stopped doing a lot, but the bottom most point of each cut started to fold up, and out.

The top outside corners followed an arc that created all the sideways "rise".

At one stage there was a step where the top was flat, and the cuts formed 90 degree angles. It would have been a funny looking loaf if it had set in that shape, but the lid was on so there was lots of steam in the container, so the outer skin was still flexible enough to keep growing out.

The result was almost a perfect dome, with a continuous shape without any steps or obvious cuts, just different colour and texture to mark the history of it's unfolding.

It looked like this on the inside, and the first picture of the post, shows the interesting colour and textural variations on the crust...

The best part is that this is the first loaf that turned out exactly how I wanted it to. Some previous loaves have turned out bready enough, but I didn't really have an idea of what kind of thing I wanted to create. With this loaf, it's light and fluffy white bread like you might buy as a knot roll, and every single one of those slightly larger holes is in exactly the right place :)

Perfect (to my biased head).

I'll just double check the recipe before posting it, because I had to keep adding flour to my original mix and as a result, some of the flour was added later during the kneading. I don't think it was so late that it will make any difference, but I'm make it again with the final amounts so I don't lead anyone astray by posting a fluke recipe that cant be duplicated.

120 Things in 20 years scoring and slashing bread - I just noticed the pentagram I created (I was too busy seeing what looked to me like fish tails), and no, this post is not part of a secret coded Illuminati conspiracy message, so if you just add the word DELETE to the subject line of any emails, I can filter them straight to the junk folder. Everyone wins!

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