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JoNorvelleWalker

Knife v. Lame/Razor Blade for Slashing Bread

25 posts in this topic

To perhaps throw oil on troubled coals, I've been using the same knife to score my baguettes for twenty something years.  After regrinding and honing the edge on the Chef's Choice 1520 (vs my old Chef's Choice 120) I had ears and lovely slashes tonight like I've seldom seen.

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Razor blades work especially well for that. Probably better than any knife, because they're so thin.

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According to Calvel razor blades are now illegal for French bread after a series of tragic accidents.  But anyhow they scare me, I wouldn't use one.

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That's funny ... sounds like the kind of law we'd have in the U.S. that the French would scoff at. 

A box cutter is would also work fine.

 

I have no idea what kind of tragic accident could be precipitated by a razor blade ... except maybe some goofball baking one into the bread. Were there really accidents and is this really a law? I can't find anything online.

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Not sure.

 

Taste of Bread says:  "Traditional blades are available in various shapes.  Professor Calvel always travels with a selection of these, as well as a miniature sharpener.  Many bakers slip a double-edged razor blade over a traditional blade or over special metal holders that curve the blade slightly, but this practice has been forbidden by law in France following a small number of excruciatingly painful consumer mouth injuries.  Blades in a special plastic sheath are now in use.  Proper results cannot be obtained by use of inappropriate tools, such as serrated knives or scissors."

 

I have not yet been able to find what the law actually says.  However the lames from a French cookware site state (thanks to the magic of Google translate) "Comply with health and safety requirements."  Implying that safety requirements really do exist.

 

My knife works for me.

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That's why you need to buy one of this. No more accidentallt cutting yourself.

 

 

dcarch

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Ha. As I guessed, people were leaving the blades in the bread. That sounds like a hazard at a very high volume operation.

 

The advantage of a razor is that the dough sticks to it less than to a fatter blade, so you can get a slightly cleaner cut. If you're going for esthetic perfection it makes a difference. Also, the higher the hydration of your dough, the stickier it will be. I used to make really wet, sticky bread doughs, and razors were easier to use. No one eating the bread will care (assuming they don't bite into your razor blade).

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Here's a post on the Fresh Loaf.

 

They talk about the importance of a sharp blade, but I suspect that if you did some tests you'd find that thin blade is just as important. Those options they show are all very thin. When freshly sharpened my gyuto is sharper than a commercial razor blade, but not quite as good at slashing sticky dough.


Edited by paulraphael (log)
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I slash lots of dough....and for less wet doughs, I've found a fine-toothed, serrated cake knife works best for me.  It is thin bladed and has lots of very tiny sharp serrations.  It slashes enriched white breads way better than my lame.

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A very old fashioned stright razor works well for me

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Curving the blade perhaps is the most important factor ?.

It separates the two sides of the dough being slashed.

 

dcarch

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good point.  also keep the blade rigid.

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I use a safety razor to slash loaves.  It's easy to grip and sharp as, well a razor.

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I slash lots of dough....and for less wet doughs, I've found a fine-toothed, serrated cake knife works best for me.  It is thin bladed and has lots of very tiny sharp serrations.  It slashes enriched white breads way better than my lame.

I use my serrated bread knife (which is very sharp) to slash sourdough bread. I find I have more control with the knife than with a razor. I've never used a lame.

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I am not sure who first used the word "slash". It is so violent.

 

"Slit" is a much more correct word to use, IMHO.

 

Slash is when you use a sword with the intention of cutting something (someone) in half.

 

 

dcarch

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Dan Lepard used to say, "slash like you're slashing a throat". People can be a bit tentative. Work out the line you are going to take, steady the dough with one hand and slash confidently with the other.

 

There isn't really an answer to this question. There are a whole variety of doughs so one blade really isn't enough. At the end of the day you find what suits you and the different doughs.

 

I use a razor blade because, if you hold it right, it's rigid and doesn't drag - just use a protruding corner - (can't get a grip on lames), or a really cheap (and viciously sharp) Victorinox tomato knife, or, for heavy miche-type loaves and straight lines, a scaloped bread knife.

 

As regards razor blades and safety - I have a little metal tin - only one blade is allowed to be in use and it lives in the tin and the tin lives under a minature le creuset in which I keep grain for decorating wholemeals. The blade comes out to slash, goes back in the tin and the tin goes back under the le creuset. If the blade goes missing the whole batch gets scrapped. You need a bit of theatre to stay safe.

 

Best wishes

 

Mick

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Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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There isn't really an answer to this question. There are a whole variety of doughs so one blade really isn't enough...

 

Good point. I've seen experienced bakers use knives (regular and serrated), lames, razors, all with success. I've tried all of 'em, though more often than not I use a plain single-edge razor for the simple breadbaking that I do.

 

Dcarch, slitting can be violent, as regarding the throat, for example. When Zorro slashed people with his sword to make his "Z", did he even break skin, or just slash clothes? That's not violent, though embarrassing. Not to argue with you, just my thoughts on usage and the lexicon. Such as it is. :wacko:  :huh:  :laugh:  

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Thanks to a kind and patient reference librarian, and to Google translate:

 

 

http://www.ars.alsace.sante.fr

 

Department of Lower Rhine Health Regulations

 

147.4) For reasons of hygiene and safety, it is mandatory to use a "blade baker carbon steel" (minimum length of the blade: 120 mm) to practice incisions on the loaf of bread before charging.

 

The use of any other instrument, including razor blades, cutter blades divisible is prohibited.

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As regards razor blades and safety - I have a little metal tin - only one blade is allowed to be in use and it lives in the tin and the tin lives under a minature le creuset in which I keep grain for decorating wholemeals. The blade comes out to slash, goes back in the tin and the tin goes back under the le creuset. If the blade goes missing the whole batch gets scrapped. You need a bit of theatre to stay safe.

 

 

I'm still unclear on this, how the hell do you lose a razor blade?


PS: I am a guy.

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Same way as you lose anything else. You put it down, move a few things around, forget it. Come to slash the next batch - no blade.

 

I run bread courses, organise baking weekends. The more people the more chance of losing a blade. People put them down on aluminium pizza trays, i.e. they become invisible, dump them in proving baskets, you wouldn't believe it ...

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Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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I had a KA lame but never had any luck with it.  I use a single edged safety razor blade once , and put it back in the razor blade holder on the discard size.  One important lesson I learned one day while getting ready to slash a loaf of bread while listening to the TV in another room.  When picking up even a single edge razor bread look at the blade while picking it up.  Otherwise, your thumb may bleed all over everything and you'll have one more mess to clean up. To say nothing of a sore thumb.

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"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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Last night I had another beautiful bread (about the only component of the meal that turned out right).  Since regrinding the angle of the blade I use for slashing -- and it really is a slashing motion -- I feel less resistance from the dough, and there is less pulling.

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my problem in the past  even with the KA Green Slasher, Is i might have been a bit to hesitant.  cant say

 

but it did 'grip ' the dough and well I got know where

 

Kerry Beal in the past ref'd a fine vid on how to do this.

 

I think for me the darch Industrial is for me

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Same way as you lose anything else. You put it down, move a few things around, forget it. Come to slash the next batch - no blade.

 

I run bread courses, organise baking weekends. The more people the more chance of losing a blade. People put them down on aluminium pizza trays, i.e. they become invisible, dump them in proving baskets, you wouldn't believe it ...

 

Ah, I get it, you mean it gets put down somewhere and sticks to a piece of dough and gets folded in. I was imagining someone slashing a piece of dough and the blade catching and getting stuck and the person being so oblivious they didn't notice the razor in their hand was now no longer there.


PS: I am a guy.

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