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SCChris 05-16-2010 11:43 AM

How do I get the "lame" to cut wet dough?
I've been making the Pain Rustic from Peter Reinhart's "Artisan breads everyday" and wanted to get some cuts on the top to allow greater oven spring. I can't seem to get the cuts deep enough.

Any help would be appreciated..



texassourdough 05-16-2010 12:48 PM

Re: How do I get the "lame" to cut wet dough?
First question is what are you using to cut? Not totally critical but...

The cuts need not be particularly deep - 1/8 inch to a quarter is plenty. On a boule they should be vertical or near veritical. On a baguette or batard the slashes are more horizontal to create an ear. If they are closing your dough is some combination of too wet and underdeveloped. If the boule won't reasonably hold shape you need some combination of lower hydration and more development (which is not necessarily more mixing! - go to stretch and fold for wet doughs (say 68 percent hydration on bread flour or higher)). For newbies to wet dough it can be helpful to let it sit exposed a few minutes to form a bit of a skin which will make the slashing more easier and effective. In my experience a "skin" of flour at loaf formation both helps prevent sticking to the basket but also creates a slight skin to help slashing.

Based on observation though, your most likely slashing WAY too slowly. Don't ddrrraaaggggggg the blade through the dough, slash it - FAST. And yes, you will slash badly a few times but you will get better results too!

If you look at the loaves in my Happy Yeast post, they are 70 percent hydration and did not sag appreciably when moved from the proofing baskets. The slashes were a flick of the arm and wrist.

There is also the danger you are overproofed!

Hope this helps!

SCChris 05-16-2010 01:01 PM

Re: How do I get the "lame" to cut wet dough?
Jay, Thanks for the feedback. My in fridge time is about 30 hours with a 2 hour wake up out of the fridge. When I pull the dough from the fridge I divide it in 2 portions and gently shape it into a rough battard shape, lay these on lightly oiled, misted, parchment and light mist and cover these with plastic for an hour. Remove the plastic and continue to rest these for about 50 or so minutes and slash before placing them in the oven.. I'll try faster motions and roll the lame sideways, I read 30 degrees. I have another batch in the fridge to bake tomorrow so I'll have a chance to try again very soon. Jay do you use a French bread pan, the lazy "W" style" when you bake batard / Baguettes or just form using linen or cotton bunched up lengthwise between loafs?




I found this and it helps to visulaize what the lame is doing during the slashing.. It also tells me that I likley need a lite dusting of flour or somthing else to keep the, non-cutting portion, of the lame from binding on the dough.

texassourdough 05-16-2010 01:37 PM

Re: How do I get the "lame" to cut wet dough?
The dough in the video is fairly stiff and/or very well developed. Probably down around 64-65 percent hydration - maybe even 62. That is EASY to slash. And you can be slow. Wetter doughs tend to demand that you make a commitment and do it fast or the blade will drag and things get weird.

I own but don't use baguette trays. I don't usually do batards, usually baguettes and I use linen couche over a form I made out of 1/2 inch square hardware cloth. I also use linen on the counter for thinner baguettes. I actually like the way you can flip the dough onto the seam off of the cloth that way. It's all just experience but seeing it done well really helps too.

The video is pretty good on basic concepts - just won't help you much with really wet nasty dough for it doesn't illustrate the challenges.

Yeah, 30 degrees is probably about right for baguettes. If you watch the French guys doing the slashing they will be really fast!

Good Luck!

Les 05-16-2010 01:43 PM

Re: How do I get the "lame" to cut wet dough?

I used to use a razor blade until I read in "Artisan bread in 5 minutes", to use a serrated blade for wetter dough. It does work better.


SCChris 05-16-2010 03:57 PM

Re: How do I get the "lame" to cut wet dough?
Thanks Guys.. I guess the attitude should be "no guts, no glory" and just be fast and agressive with the slashing.. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow..


SCChris 05-18-2010 07:17 AM

Re: How do I get the "lame" to cut wet dough?
Agressive and quick strokes and getting a bit more flour on the dough seems to have made the difference but I still need to work on the depth of the cut. Practice practice practice..

Thanks again.


BrianShaw 05-18-2010 08:52 AM

Re: How do I get the "lame" to cut wet dough?
So... can we assume that nobody uses a chain saw, or even an electric knife, to slash? :eek:

SCChris 05-18-2010 09:05 AM

Re: How do I get the "lame" to cut wet dough?
I considered the electric knife avenue. I didn't have one so I didn't try it.. The chain saw wasn't considered, I guess I wasn't creative enough to come up with this one. I should add that the hydration level was less of a problem than was the surface not being floured enough. I'm not talking about much flour here, just enough to help float the blade, keep it from hanging up and when the blade does bind the flour helps to release the blade quicker during the swipe. I'd be curious to see how a small serrated blade works.


PS Chain Saw.. Hmmm?

texassourdough 05-18-2010 11:22 AM

Re: How do I get the "lame" to cut wet dough?
Hi Chris!

Depth is a practice thing. But it really doesn't have to be very deep. If you are properly underproofed it will expand and rip even if the slash is quite shallow.

Another thing that can help is wetting the razor blade a little. And making sure it is CLEAN. A tiny crumb of dough on a dirty blade or even some dried flour/gluten can greatly increase the drag of the blade through the dough!

Hang in there (and be careful with the chain saw - it can make a real mess!)

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