Slashing and crumbs!


I've not done this very scientifically but below are a series of loaves with various slashes and proving times (AND proving methods - banneton, couche, retarded and not) to see how things turn out. The loaves are all baked at different times over the last couple of weeks. If I had the space and time, I'd do it all in one big bake-off.

Nevertheless, the results are vaguely interesting.


Loaf 1 - single slash lengthways.


Loaf 2 - triple and double slashes diagonally

The dough for these loaves was retarded over night. Not sure why some slashes remained intact and others seem to burst out.


Loaf 3 - triple slash diagonally

Again, one slash has burst like above. The crumb for this loaf however is tight and dry looking. I think I under proved the dough.


rossnroller 2010 October 18

Your diagnosis is probably right. When the loaf explodes through a slash like that, or out the side of the loaf, it's a  classic indicator of underproofing.

I had a run of loaves like that in early winter, and after some extensive debate with some of the most experienced bakers on another site I inhabit when I'm not on this one, I concluded that I had not made enough allowance for the lower ambient temps of winter. Had gotten used to shorter proof times over the warmer seasons, and had forgotten just how much difference a few degrees makes. It was a timely reminder that we should go not by the clock when proofing, but by the state of the dough. A simple poke test will tell you whether a dough is underproofed (or overproofed, for that matter).

As ambient temps change with the seasons, it's necessary to adjust proofing times accordingly.

Exploding through slashes could also be a result of uneven slashing depth, but looking at your loaves and the  tightness of the crumb on the top and bottom cumb pics, my money would be on underproofing. Those mouseholes might indicate some shaping issues, too.

All part of the learning process - and it never stops! 


andrewd 2010 October 18

Thanks for the feedback Ross.

Glad to see I'm on the right track.

I was leaving the mouseholes for another time but since you've named the problem, excellent! I've never known what to call them and searching a bread forum for "holes" isn't helpful since we are usually trying to create them - nice big even ones, that is.

So now you've raised my shaping issues, what's the solution? Are they caused by air that's been trapped as I shape a batard? Is there some other problem?




rossnroller 2010 October 19

Hi again Andrew

Yes, could be air trapped during the shaping. Holes can also result when you have too much dry flour from your floured surface on the dough as you fold it over when shaping. Also, gentle degassing in the pre-shape stage can even out any bubbly areas and make for an even crumb - but too much degassing can detract from the openness of the crumb. Correct proofing is another factor, so the under-proofing might well be contributing to the mouseholes.

Just wondering: which batard shaping method are you using?




andrewd 2010 October 23

I'm using the method on SourDom's page for shaping a baton. I've been calling it a batard but a batard is longer isn't it? Closer to being a baguette?

Anyway, you might be right. I need to work on making sure the air is squeezed out after the final fold and I'm pressing with the heel of my hand.


benh 2010 October 26

 Hey Andrew,


I had the exact same problem as you when I was starting out. My loaves would blow out and have a dense and dry crumb. Like Ross mentioned, it appears you are underproofing. How long do you proof for at the moment? Try adding an extra hour and see how it goes. I also find I have to let my dough rest after being shaped and before putting it in the fridge.

andrewd 2010 October 27

Hi benh,


My latest batches (see this blog post) were proved for progressively longer. The first batch for 6 hours and the second (the batch of 4 loaves) was 8 hours (at least). The other difference was where they were proved (banneton versus clouche). I'm not sure whether this really makes a difference. The slashing techniques certainly do though.



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