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Bread: shaping, slashing and transferring


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I pretty much do what Tino does, proof seam side up in proofing baskets. In my case, I actually use deep bowls (I mostly bake boules) lined with cheesecloth or dishclothes. Well-floured, of course. I also give the dough a light dusting of flour before it goes into the "basket," as added protection against sticking.

When proofed, I usually give the seam side another light dusting of flour, and gently tip the dough onto a peel liberally dusted with cornmeal. You could also flour the peel to prevent sticking, although I generally haven't found it necessary.

I usually bake two boules at a time. Since I only have one peel, I use my Epicurean cutting board as a second peel. It's thin enough to work decently for this purpose.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Any tips and hints on how to best get the dough from the banneton or couche into the oven?

To add to the suggestions already offered, when you're loading your boule onto the peel, set the peel just alongside the boule and use the opposite side of the couche (the fold or the edge) to flip the boule onto the peel.

Another option is to use a flipping board (scroll down for pic and price, nothing on the page is hotlinked). It's also perfectly kosher to proof seam side down and then to use a flipping board to move the boule from the couche to your peel. Because I bake anywhere from 40-60 loaves at a time, and load 2-3 boules on a peel at a time, that method works best for me. With that method, you proof seam side down, flip the boule onto the flipping board and then turn the boule out onto the peel to load.

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  • 1 year later...

Sometimes I find that when I slash a very high-hydration loaf it collapses before it gets into the oven. This happens even though I use an oiled razor to make my slashes... perhaps my technique is poor, but what I'm wondering is whether anyone has tried slashing the loaf AFTER it goes in the oven - that is, putting it in, waiting a minute or two to let the surface firm up a bit, and then opening the door and making a couple quick slashes to allow for expansion. I can't see any obvious reason why this is a bad idea - thoughts?

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When slashing ciabatta, I find that a VERY shallow cut that is almost parallel to the top works best. Almost the same technique as slashing baguettes to create an ear / flap, but down the entire length of the ciabatta.

Opening the door after just a few minutes will kill the oven spring -- the oven is still recovering from loading the loaves and opening it again will lower the oven heat too much.

Are you using steam for ciabatta? Letting steam escape during the first few minutes is also another sure way to prevent the loaf from getting a full rise.

Very interesting idea, though. I'll try it out even if I doubt it'll work and I'll let you know what happens.

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If the dough is very high hydration (like ciabatta), slashing isn't necessary (or traditional).

Ummm. No, thats not quite the whole story.

Raising the subject of ciabatta seems to have diverted the thread somewhat.

Ciabatta is not typical of high hydration doughs.

Slashing IS an essential AND traditional part of (for example) baguette making. Which uses a distinctly high hydration dough.

However, as Jackal10 points out, such doughs should not be over-proofed, and it sure sounds as though yours is!

So try dramatically shortening the proof time -- unless you actually intend heading into ciabatta territory.

A high hydration, erring on the side of under-proofing, good slashes, a hot stone and an initially humid oven is the making of great oven spring.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Slashing IS an essential AND traditional part of (for example) baguette making. Which uses a distinctly high hydration dough.

Would you say a traditional baguette dough has a high hydration? I thought a baguette dough would be somewhere between 63% and 68% in hydration.

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Right. Baguette dough has never seemed to ha high in hydration compared to my pane pugliese dough or ciabatta dough. And I never slash those. For the pane pugliese, I just poke my finger into the dough in a few places.

Since we're discussing hydration, we should also point out that not all hydration is equal. Higher gluten doughs are "dryer" (firmer?) at the same percent hydration compared to lower gluten doughs. So, for example, a 68% hydration dough made with bread flour will be fairly firm whereas a 68% hydration dough made with a 70/30 mix of AP and cake flour will be quite wet and runny.

Edited by slkinsey (log)


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Right.  Baguette dough has never seemed to ha high in hydration compared to my pane pugliese dough or ciabatta dough.  And I never slash those.  For the pane pugliese, I just poke my finger into the dough in a few places.

Since we're discussing hydration, we should also point out that not all hydration is equal.  Higher gluten doughs are "dryer" (firmer?) at the same percent hydration compared to lower gluten doughs.  So, for example, a 68% hydration dough made with bread flour will be fairly firm whereas a 68% hydration dough made with a 70/30 mix of AP and cake flour will be quite wet and runny.

Important point: the "wetness" of the finished dough is not merely a factor of the water percentage, but is also determined by the flour's protein levels & extraction.

Regarding slashing of baguettes, it depends entirely on the method & flour used: slashing pain a l'ancienne baguettes made with high-ash french-style flour (not esp high in protein) isn't necessary and won't lead to increased oven spring/rising.

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Tuesday morning, we decided to go visit the Duc de la Chapelle, Anis Bouabsa's bakery in Paris. As you probably know, he won this year's {2008} Best Baguette. The bakery is situated in a modest neighborhood, far from the typical tourist traps and chic areas. ...

Now, what he told us was actually quite surprising! The baguette dough has a 75% hydration, very little yeast, hardly kneaded, folded three times in one hour then placed in the fridge 21hrs. They are not fully risen when placed in the oven, it is the wet dough and the very very hot oven (250°C) that make give the volume. ... 


Baguettes may perhaps be made differently in the USA.


For the baguette, he said that of course he learned with the T55 but uses T65. His other breads are sourdough, but the baguette is yeast, and he doesn't use a poolish, just relying on the very long, cool fermentation.

He uses an organic flour for one of his breads, but doesn't systematically because he'd have to pay a tax in order to be labelled "organic". He doesn't think it's worth it. His flour is "Label Rouge" which is a quality control label used for food products. I think he uses different millers. It is just a very high quality non-organic flour. He showed us the T65, T80 and the T150. 

So not especially low protein (though lower than US 'bread flour') and definitely NOT "high ash" (meaning not high minerals, not high bran). Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Baguettes may perhaps be made differently in the USA.

I'm not sure how baguettes are made in the US either, but a 75% hydrated baguette dough is certainly not your standard fare French baguette; that sounds more like a ciabatta with my kind of (non-high gluten) bread flour.

Edited by hansjoakim (log)
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Hansjoakim, in my understanding, baguettes are normally "highish hydration". This helps produce the big holes.

Agreed that so much over 70% is unusual, but to produce the award-winning best baguette, you need to push to the extreme. (EDIT: Reading back the merged thread, one sees Jackal10 using 72%}

I'd say close to 70% was more usual {EDIT: than the 64/68% you suggest} -- but that's not the point!

The topic of this thread {EDIT: now 'section of this thread' } WAS slashing of collapsing high hydration doughs...

IMHO, it was misleading to suggest that if a dough had a high hydration, then it wouldn't need slashing.

I offered that link specifically to demonstrate an extreme high hydration dough, producing lots of oven spring, and with a more-than-nice grigne in the absolutely essential slashes.

If one is slashing, like the original poster, then its in the hope or expectation of a fair amount of spring.

But you won't get that from an overproofed dough. Especially after it has collapsed.

The op {EDIT: MikeJ, now the poster of #28 in this thread - ie http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...dpost&p=1648099 } reported that his dough collapsed on slashing.

Jackal10 helpfully explained that as indicating over-proofing. Its a (maybe the) classic symptom of over proof.

The collapse is not going to be due to the "high hydration".

So the op needs to sort out the proofing time and temperature. (Less. Quite possibly of both.)

And not to faff about with trying to slash after the baking has started {as MikeJ considered for remediation in his post}.

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Why slash ciabatta?

From my experience, ciabatta tends to have larger air pockets on top compared to the bottom of the loaf. Slashing gives it a more even but still wide open crumb structure.

Also, if scoring is done like a flap, expansion can continue even if the crust is already set. It has to be really shallow or the ciabatta will collapse.

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Regarding slashing of baguettes, it depends entirely on the method & flour used:  slashing pain a l'ancienne baguettes made with high-ash french-style flour (not esp high in protein) isn't necessary and won't lead to increased oven spring/rising.

Gosselin's pain a la ancienne is slashed and has the most wide open crumb I've ever seen in any baguette. It could not have expanded as much without slashing. Any baguette or high hydration dough can benefit from proper slashing.

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