Slashing or Scoring Your Dough

I’ve been teasing Luc recently with the slash and tears on my loaves, he has a thing for a good tear in a loaf.  It’s easier to get a tear in a yeast loaf than sourdough when you first start scoring loaves.  Under-proved dough will give more of a dramatic tear effect since it will have a considerable higher rise in the oven than a loaf reaching its peak on proving.

If you have a very high hydrated dough then the scoring is going to be difficult, not very good or impossible.  The most effective cut & tear I’ve had is on white loaves, some grains are not so great, lack of big ‘umph’ in the oven.  Also loaves with lots of seeds don’t seem to do as well either.

The trick to a good tear in a sourdough is not to cut deep and cut at an angle as if you’re almost cutting a skin in the loaf and then creating an opening for the loaf to push itself through and thus creating the tear.

With a sourdough especially 70% hydration getting a drag on dough is common and annoying.  How much of a drag you get is dependant very much on how much the surface dries up before you cut it.  If the dough hasn’t formed a dry skin it will drag but if the dough can be kept in atmosphere where surface dries then much easier to cut affectively.

The loaf above has Emmer in it.

Below one with Emmer and the long one with seeds.

The loaves below are from a year and a half ago, yeast loaves underproved, which produce good tears.  I’ve only started using a blade recently, for the rest of the time I used a small serrated knife.

When your cuts remain with the indentations from the cuts its just lack of enough oven-spring, quite common with loaves containing wholemeal flour like this one below.

This sourdough loaf below is going back again to last year using serrated knife.  I would get a tear but not necessarily to command it was more haphazardly.  It’s only been recently I taught myself how to slash and tear.

Ripe Dough

These sourdoughs below that have been left to prove for 13 hours at cool room temperature were at the peak of ripeness which is why the slashing is never going to be so dramatic.

 Damp Surface

This loaf below is about 67% hydrated with a 12% protein flour, retard overnight in the fridge which is why the surface is tacky and damp, not good for scoring.  Nevertheless you’ll see how the cut is done at an angle.

Not very deep but certainly it has to be clearly cut through.

It was difficult to cut and hold the camera but wanted to show how the blade is held.

If you want the side of the crust to lift don’t cut it like I’m holding the blade below, straight down, remember slightly sideways at an angle.

Like this below….

I didn’t cut enough all the way to the ends of the loaf which is why the tear hasn’t gone to either side of the loaf.

Angle the blade to cut for a lift.

The sourdough below has potato which makes it moist and again retarding it in the fridge has made the skin damp, not great for scoring.

In doughs like these I go over the cut more than once to make sure I’ve cut a clean line, giving the dough a ‘skin’ for it to lift.

 Serrated Knife 

With a serrated knife it’s possible especially if surface is dry to still create a tear but the limitations with it is not being able to make more delicate patterns like curves.


These sourdough were done with a blade, half the fun is not knowing exactly how they’re going to turn out.

 Dry Surface

The best surface are like the sourdoughs below when left to prove at room temperature and it’s a hot dry day, creating a lovely hard skin.

Can you see how dry and hard that skin has formed?

As I lift it you can see the still very wet dough underneath.

I’m going to point out the obvious the more cuts the same size the less dramatic the tears you’ll get.  I love this pattern.

You can tell by the bottom of this dough how the loaf was risen nicely, and again because left out on a warm day, a nice hard crust formed.

These sourdough were left in fridge overnight but this time I had time to let them dry out for a decent time before baking.

From this photo you can see how much at an angle I cut.

I hope this has helped. Have fun experimenting.