Slashing your dough properly creates a beautiful loaf of bread, but can also help it rise in the oven. If your slashes are not deep enough, the dough may tear open on the top or bottom of the loaf. Leaving you with bread that tastes delicious, but doesn’t live up to its artistic potential. The loaf can also end up being a touch dense if you don’t slash deep enough, because it won’t open up and make way for a dramatic oven spring. So, for the most beautiful crust and best interior crumb, you’ll want to follow these few tricks for slashing.
As you will see in the video below there are a few quick tips to cutting through the wet, soft dough more easily:
1. Use a very sharp Serrated Bread Knife. If your knife is dull or is caked with dough, it will pull at the dough instead of cutting through it. I have also successfully used a straight-edged Chef’s Knife, but it is crucial that these style knives be even sharper to get the job done. I have also used a Lame (pronounced lamb) with great results. The key to success with a lame is to make sure the blade is spotlessly clean or the dough will stick.
2. Dust the dough with flour for the easiest cut. The flour helps the knife slide through the dough without sticking. If you use a water or egg wash on the dough it may be a bit stickier, which will make it more difficult to cut.
3. Hold the dough steady with your free hand. In order to keep the dough from moving too much, you will need to support it with your non-cutting hand. This will give you some tension on the surface of the dough to cut against. If your dough is able to move around too much you will just end up dragging it with the knife strokes and it won’t cut easily.
4. Cut quickly. If you cut through the dough too slowly the knife will pull at the dough and not cut through. Use a swift, firm motion to cut the 1/2-inch slash in the dough. (However, if your recipe calls for water or egg wash on the dough, you’ll want to use shallow, but swift knife strokes and just repeat over the same spot until they are deep enough.)
5. Slash depth. Refer to the recipe for the proper depth of the slash for the loaf you are making. If the slash is too shallow you may have a blow out or a tear in the dough. If you don’t get the proper depth on the first pass with the knife, just repeat until it is right. The dough is more resilient than you may think, so you can go over the cut a few times.
Practice makes perfect, so don’t worry if your first slash isn’t perfect. The bread will still taste great and you can just call it “rustic.”