Lamp's Blog

I thought I had better start a blog on my Baking and my first forum entry was really a blog anyway.

I have made all my SD as an unbleached white flour/ rye flour blend but finally last week I took a few grams of my starter and fed it up as a white starter.

Last night was the first bake with the new white starter and I have noticed a few things:
1. The white starter I had split off was much more active than the rye blend. It really should have been fed every 12 hours but the rye blend only needs feeding every 24 or 48 hours (at room temperature).
2. Admittedly at a slightly higher hydration (because the starter was wetter) the white dough pretty well collapsed when slashed but then puffed up when baked and ended up with a nice shape and a greater volume in the end than my normal rye blend. The rye blend baked at the same time turned out as normal, but was a little underproved.

I'll know what the white is really like when I cut it open when I get home (I'll try to post a picture)

Has anyone else noticed a difference in properties when baking white and rye blend?



Here is one of the loaves, I'll have to get better at forming and slashing the loaves:

However, I'm quite happy with the crumb :)

Those loaves look like you've got things about right in terms of volume and crumb, and the eveness of bake looks pretty good too. I'd be very happy with that result especially since you're pretty much a novice as you alluded to earlier. It shows you've paid close attention to the details.

However, since you've mentioned improving your slashes I thought I'd post this diagram which should assist in getting expansion and an aesthetic appearance to your loaves.

Without getting bogged down into unnecessary detail let me just add that a dough of mainly wheat that is properly developed and matured has the propensity to expand significantly in the oven. Bakers call this "ovenspring". Generally the lower the wheat content the smaller the volume and  ovenspring. In order to cope with this expansion bakers slash their dough pieces just prior to entering the oven. This will ensure controled expansion and an attractive appearance. If slashes are not executed correctly and in the correct position the dough piece often distorts in shape and expands in an irregular way. This is usually due to uneven detensioning of the gluten in relation gluten strand direction. Notice the lashes on your loaf have not opened significantly, this is most likely due to their almost 90' angle to the horizontal. See the diagram for cues on positioning and angle placement.

Good luck.

BTW just one more thing to add. Generally the more slashes in a dough piece the less they open and conversely less slashes the greater the opening. See below.

Single slash

3 slashes

4 slashes

Thanks Boris, for the comments and also for your guidance on the correct way to slash loaves, that has been a bit of a mystery to me. I think I need to get a lame and some decent razor blades rather than just using a wet knife like I currently do.

I took a couple of loaves to the Millbrook fishing trip and Dave brought one of his, we did not bring more because we were unsure how it would be recieved. In the end, it was all gone after the first breakfast and we could have taken twice as much and still run out. Dave Andrew and myself fielded a few questions that night and one or two who were on the trip may be trying a SD bake in the near future.

Your bread sounds wonderful, Pete. I think it looks pretty decent too.

Aaarghhh. Why didn't I see this before I slashed my bread just now?  (Still) an imperfect piece of work. Jack just gave me some 'real' lames and I wanted to do them justice. Great diagram, Boris.Thank you!!

Boris's diagram is almost the opposite to what I was doing TP. I will be trying out the suggested method later in the week....I will not have any real lames to use but will try to get hold of a razor blade so I can give it a go, I cannot wait to see the results but I suspect it will take some practice to get right.
Pete, when using a razor blade or the type of lame that has a razor blade insert it's important to use the front tip of the blade only.

It may seem strange for me to say that, but it's common to unconsciously use the whole edge which often results in the 'back' edge of the blade - which is blunt - to drag on the dough piece and ruin the slash. Hold your hand up at an angle so only the front tip of the blade is in contact with the dough. It takes time for people get accustomed to using it naturally this way.

See below

When used at this angle leading edge only has contact which eliminates 'tearing' and 'ripping'.

Thanks Boris, That was how I thought they were used but the picture really makes it clear. My real problem I think will be resisting the temptation to slash too wide and deep (which I probably do at the moment with the wet knife). I'll post a picture later in the week to let you know how I went.

PS I tied you 4 size 14 Adams paraduns last night...I'll tie the 16's tonight. I'm also tying a few for myself. I tie them differently than most people in that I do them in the Hans Van Klinken style, using Spiderweb.

...just for practice. LOL.

[Must remember to use 'just the tip'.]

You're welcome, Tekky & Pete.

It's something like Japanese silk painting; you have to get it right the first time - no second chances unless you have another dough piece - and  bakers should execute the slashes with a 'minimalistic' approach. The cuts should be deliberate, but the depth will depend on the amount of proof at the time of slashing; under proof requires deeper cuts. Over proof requires shallower cuts. Did I mention perfecting the exercise of slashing usually usually means you have to do it rather than read about it?

Pete, I'm rubbing my hands in anticipation of getting those para Adams.... you're just too kind, mate!
[quote=Danubian]You're welcome, Tekky & Pete. 

[snip]....... Did I mention perfecting the exercise of slashing usually usually means you have to do it rather than read about it?

Pete, I'm rubbing my hands in anticipation of getting those para Adams.... you're just too kind, mate!

Pete...keep feeding him the (right) bait, and we won't be short of these tute gems. Reckon we gotta thank you too.

TP, the flies (information bait I suppose) that I am going to give Boris are nothing special, just a few bits of fluff thrown on a hook really. :)

I think of it as trout food in exchange for human food. ;)
Here's another picture I found which shows the angled slashes. Note the slight arched shape of the slashes.


Slashing works best when we are relaxed; use the force like a young Jedi knight.

If you practice inscribing those lines with a pencil on paper using one continous motion - without varying speed or stopping and starting during  each line you'll find it helpful when it comes time to executing it on dough. Muscle memory developes quite quickly which means it'll be one less thing you have to concentrate on becasue you'll have some experience with fluiditity and line angle.

Just to clarify, there are lots of different slashing styles but those styles that produce good controlled expansion with a pleasing aesthetic all follow basic principles. Sure, develop your own style, within effective parameters, not against them!

Pete, I think you should take TP's advice and keep posting flies.....

Thanks Boris, I have express posted the flies to you this morning so they should arrive tomorrow. There are a few Para Adams in muskrat and a few in superfine dry fly. There is also a couple of beetles, a couple of PT nymphs and a couple of hot dots.

I was busy waiting for my dought to rise between folds. ;)

Think of the extra flies as a "pre  paid bonus" for the new information tips. I feel like a young "Grasshopper" from the old TV series. :);):D

Its all good TP!
Well, I did a bake tonight and despite knowing what I should do, I still did not put enough angle into the slashes....nothing beats experience! ;)

One of the loaves had a little more angle and turned out looking OK, but I should have had another look at the photo before I started!
My camera is at work so I cannot take a photo tonight and these loaves have been promised to work mates tomorrow so I probably will not get to take a shot before giving them out. I'm doing another bake on Saturday so I'll resist the temptation to fall back on my bad habits, put more angle in and try to do better! :O I just have to go into the appropriate state of zen first, rather than trying to do it too quickly! :D

Your diagrams and photos are excellent and greatly appreciated Boris...I hope you find the flies are an adequate exchange. When you open the package remember I'm just an old amateur fly tier who has a bit of fun at the vise! 

Pete, recevied those flies this afternoon, wow, very nice! I especially liked the beetles. I'd like to learn how to tie beetles like that.

Look forward to seeing the pictures of the new bake.
Boris, I'm glad the flies passed muster and you consider them a fair exchange for your knowledge - I hope you manage to catch a few fish with them!

When we have our get together sometime I'll show you how I tie them. I have used them (well, a previous version anyway) on lakes and slow pools to good effect. They sit in the film and are therefore no good in fast water but around Christmas they work pretty well. Feel free to trim the legs but Dave prefers them left long.... They have been designed to sit in the film because beetles float in the film and not above it! The hot dots were designed by Babelfish and have become my "go to" dry fly. The posts can be seen very easily in a late afternoon glare and sometimes the pink is easier to see and sometimes the green is better. The fish do not seem to mind the bright colors. ;-) :-)

I have my camera and will take a photo of the loaves.
I tried to make some Ciabatta rolls today and have put the results in the "Ciabatta bake off" thread...interesting and delicious! They will make a great lunch while fishing tomorrow! :-)

My normal loaves are in the fridge and will emerge for proving in a couple of hours.
I have just baked the white but the loaves were a little underproved, only a little less than normal though, however the oven spring was incredible....on the bright side the slashes were on a better angle. I think I also need to decrease the length of the central slash a little  ;-)

I'll let the 25% rye prove a bit more than normal before I bake them and see how they turn out.

By beetle flies or whatchamacallit!! I think you've got it! I'd love to have slashes like that. Teach will be proud.

p.s. Love the fly talk. So creative.
I think I am starting to get the hang of slashing! I am pretty pleased with these, especially the loaf on the right which I slashed a little deeper.  :-)

Still a little under proved, but I'm still pretty new at this and I think the slashes are allowing more oven spring than how I was slashing the loaves before. I think the way I was doing it before was letting the "skin" constrain the loaves and not letting them expand to their full potential. I cannot wait for them to cool so I can cut one open and have a look at the crumb! :-)

I'm slowly getting there Boris. ;-)

Thats the way Pete, if you keep tying Boris flies we won't need too...

I finally got a decent stone and started baking in pairs today :-)


Those breads look sensational....and the crumb is surperb Andrew!

I went fishing with Tony today on a lovely bit of twig water but I left a white and a rye loaf for him and Marie. I told them to eat the white first as the rye tends to keep better. When we got back to Tony's place Marie came out and said hello so I asked if she had cut into a loaf and what it was like....her reply was that she had eaten half the white loaf while we were fishing. :-) I figured it must be OK ;-)

PS Boris, I used a pink posted Hot Dot and got takes all day. Tony used a variety of flies, including a white posted hot dot and a green posted one. He did not get a take until he switched to a pink posted one....far from turning the fish off, I think the pink post attracted them!
Nice Pete, that white of yours is pretty good ;-)

Where did you head this weekend?

I've been baking, garden and finding room for my bamboo rod making gear in the garage :-D
Wet, we headed to the top end of the Murindindi, Siberia bridge I think. I should have had a dozen and missed a number of strikes, had fish on for 5 or 10 seconds, lost 3 at my feet and actually landed 2 or 3...all on my new TFO 1wt. The water was very cold I measured it as 7 degrees! It was just too much fun with small feisty fish!

Lunch was made out of my Ciabatta rolls and they went down very well (see the ciabatta bake off thread in the forum if you want to see a pic).
Well done fellas! Your bread is looking better with each bake. But hey, isn't it satisfying turning grain into bread that's nutrious, platable, and uniquely the product of your own skill.

Although cold, that sounds like a lot of fun, Pete.
Tony also sent me a couple of those small hot dots with a white post. I'm looking forward to trying those and yours out. I've tied up a couple of spent spinners and partridge soft hackle wets for him. My tying is hardly in his or your league but they do catch fish...
....a blessed combination, indeed!

Or is there a direct correlation between great breadmaking and fishing skills? (I might take up fishing again.)

[quote=Danubian]Well done fellas! Your bread is looking better with each bake. But hey, isn't it satisfying turning grain into bread that's nutrious, platable, and uniquely the product of your own skill.

Although cold, that sounds like a lot of fun, Pete.
Tony also sent me a couple of those small hot dots with a white post. I'm looking forward to trying those and yours out. I've tied up a couple of spent spinners and partridge soft hackle wets for him. My tying is hardly in his or your league but they do catch fish...

I find making bread extremely satisfying Boris....I just HAVE to look through the oven window to see how it is going after 5 mins...10 mins....20 mins. I love watching the development in the oven! :-)

I 'm sure your tying is good Boris, but like breadmaking it gets better with practice. I think about some of my early flies, simple ones that took over 1/2 an hour each to tie and shudder in horror...but they still caught fish. My flytying has improved over time and I'm even generally happy with what falls from my vise, but as Wet will tell you I do most things wrong...or at least differently to others. ;-)

You cannot take up just any type of fishing TP (although any type of fishing is fun and better than not fishing) but you will have to try fly fishing! If you do, I'll tie a couple up for you. If you do not have trout to fish for where you live I can tie salt water flies too. It has been said that if it swims and feeds, you can catch it on a fly. ;-)
I baked again this morning and opened a new 5kg bag of UB white flour (Wallaby again). The dough was felt wetter and stickier than usual using the same recipe, but I guess that is just variation from the mill.

Again the white "exploded" out from the slashes like the last batch. :-( On the bright side, the crumb is nice. :-)

The 25% rye looks even better than the last batch because the slashes are more even. I would have posted a pic or two but the camera has dead flat batteries and I cannot find the charger (I hope it is at work). I think I have the rye sorted, but I still have to sort out the white. I even let it prove more this time...
Sounds like you've got at least one bread perfected. Happy for you. If we don't get to see your breads this week, there's next week's.

Hmmm....Just arrived at work and the charger is not here. :?  I'll have to have a better look when I get home, because it must be there somewhere and I must have had what a friends wife calls a "mans look". ;)  I'll bake again later this week as most of yesterday's bake is to be given away to people at work, so I'll post pics of that bake....if I can find the charger. :)
I thought I would try to make a couple of white baguettes for a change. One was very wet on the surface and would not slash...the razor blade just dragged the soft dough, and with the second, again I did not put enough angle on the slashes...for all that I think they turned out well for my first try! Another batch of 25% rye is in the oven. ;-)

The baguette I sliced open tastes nice with a good crunchy crust anyway. :-)

This photo is a bit blurry....taken in low light but it gives some idea of the crumb.

The 25% Rye

The Crumb...a bit out of focus but you will get the idea

Your slashing is still better than mine, Pete. I'm enjoying your blog...thanks for sharing with us your bread journey.
Here are the loaves baked on the 19-10-08. A little underproved and the slashing was a little uneven. I made a couple of baguettes from half the white dough and ate one last night...tasted excellent but again the slashing of these was less than successful.

As usual the white exploded and I think I need to reduce the hydration to get a better look. The baguettes were ciabattaish in crumb....if I let the whites prove longer they end up flattish around the edges and still explode out of the middle! Next time I don't think I'll fight it but I might try one slash down the middle and just let it explode, it should look good anyway!

I like to slash my batard straight down the middle, I like the look and they open quite predictably.  The loaf probably spreads a little more.  My preference is not to cut vertically into the dough but on an angle so that the cut lifts up on top, rather than just spreading out.

Yep, that was how I was thinking Matthew, a single offset slash...either that or do some sort of diamond pattern to really open it up. ;-)
[quote=lamp]Yep, that was how I was thinking Matthew, a single offset slash...either that or do some sort of diamond pattern to really open it up. ;-)

Pete, here are a few examples; longitudinal slash


See this [url=]here[/url] also

and the diamond pattern.

I love the look of that diamond pattern Boris...I will give that a go for sure!

I'll try it with a small decrease in the hydration of the dough because I think with the current flour, although I have not changed the hydration, the dough feels a fair bit "wetter" and I am having more trouble slashing these loaves than the ones I made with the last bag of flour.

I suppose I should not really complain too much, I do prefer the nice open crumb even if the oven spring is a bit excessive rather than having less oven spring and a dense crumb. ;-)
I baked a small batch of white and made a couple of baguettes and a whie loaf which I slashed in a diamond pattern. It turned out pretty well but I did not get around to taking a photo.

Tonight I baked my usual batch of 2 rye and 2 white loaves. The temperature last night when I made the dough was around 28 degrees and the dough became super active, especially the white. When the loaves were put in the fridge they rose overnight much more than normal, and when proved tonight the white got a bit over-proved. Even though the oven spring was OK they ended up a bit flat. They expanded so much in the prove that they were hard to slash and were so "puddingish" that the one cut in a diamond pattern collapsed to one side. They are OK but I was a little disappointed. Both loaves of the rye on the other hand ended up looking quite good. :-)

I seem to be having a bit of trouble with the site tonight and when I made my post I ended up with a blank page so I did a refresh until the page displayed...when the page finally displayed it seems everytime I did a refresh it created my post again. I could not find how to delete the multiple posts so cleared them as the next best thing.  :(

Overproved or not, your breads look fantastic. The diamond is just beautiful.

Just give Maedi a shout and he'll zap off the multiple posts.
Pete, I have struggled with my last two bakes and feel they were to late too.

I'll post some pictures tonight, they were still nice to eat though and Anton's sister in-law thinks I'm a wog (I think that it was a complement)
Nice bread, Pete.

I bet your customers and fishing mates are very pleased with the bread quality.

You'll have to do a picture of "loaves and fishes" one day beside the river.
Thanks Boris and TP, your encouragement is most welcome. I'm getting there slowly and yes, three of the loaves were given away to work mates who were most appreciative. As I mentioned, I was quite pleased with how the diamond pattern on the rye blend turned out and the others are not too bad either, except for the white diamond that collapsed a bit to the side. :-)

I will wait in anticipation for a look at your latest bake make my bread look bad! I'm sure Anton's sister in law meant it as a compliment and probably wants a few more loaves. ;-)
Pete, I finally uploaded some pictures...







Well today I did white in the new Bannetons for the CFA christmas party 4 loaves...












I need to improve my slashing now I have a 'proper' lame thanks to Pete, a bit of splitting but it's my first white loaves, and the 'great unwashed' loved the bread :) infact the sliced loaves they bought didn't get even opened :D
The latest loaves look excellent Wet and have a great looking crumb :-)

I also used my cane bannetons for the first time on the weekend and i'm very happy with the results. I would post a pic but I left my camera at work after downloading pictures of the Todd river in flood from it at work. After I returned from Alice Springs my starter was pretty dead after sitting on the bench without a feed in the heat for about 2 weeks. I fed it in 12 hour cycles and there was nothing after the first feed, a few bubbles after the second, and after the 4th cycle they were both fully active. When I finally used them the dough was highly active and the loaves ended up as high as they are round...almost a little bigger than normal! It just goes to show how a seemingly dead starter can be revived.

My loaves always explode like that no matter how I prove or slash them, I have tried a longer bulk fermentation phase, longer proving, deeper and more frequent slashing and nothing seems to prevent them exploding. I'm starting to think (after reading one of Dom's blogs) that I need to spray them with water before they go into the oven to retard the setting of the crust and allow more expansion from the slashes. It seems a pan of boiling water does not provide enough steam.

I'll be dropping off a loaf or two to Chris after work tonight since he showed so much interest when you gave me the bannetons. I'll be interested to see what he thinks.
Thats great to see Chris is interested now. I can live with a little splitting, they tasted ok, all the women loved it even the young diet concious lasses were going back for more :) (I told them it was all natural ingredients ;) ). I now have two starters, David gave me some of his which I converted to my white starter, my other is on the way back after the same misstreatment as your's :o
your bread is as good as I've seen in many bakeries who claim superior pedigree. :D
Boris your far to kind, we are in your debit for our groups knowledge :D

Pete, how did Chris go with his bread??
No idea Andrew, Chris has given no feedback as yet....I don't even know if that is good or bad....
I've had the mother in-law staying at our place, this morning I was informed my bread is nice... I got the impression I'm expected to deliver bread to her now :?