You’ve got the right flour, spent time mixing it, shaped it correctly, and the rise looks good, then you try slashing the loaf with a knife and it drags and looks ugly. Well, we’re here to help you avoid that and finish your loaf as well as you started it.
BakeryBits was the first UK company to offer French dough slashing blades for sale in the UK to the public, and since then we’ve watched so many of you turn out amazing looking artisan bread.
Slashing the top of the dough before it goes into the oven does a few different things. Firstly, it creates a cut in the dough which controls where the loaf will break apart when it rises in the hot steamy oven. If you don’t do this, the loaf will probably burst out around the base in a lumpy fashion. Secondly, it enables you to put the dough into the oven when it is either “young” or not fully risen to its maximum stretch before collapsing, or when the dough is cold, or both, and the loaf will still turn out looking beautiful, or in a working baker’s opinion… saleable. It’s much, much easier to sell beautiful bread than “ugly” bread, even though they are both cut from the same dough, and beautiful inside.
Using a good and sharp kitchen knife is not very helpful in making a clean slash through the skin of the dough as they are quite thick in comparison to a razor blade and therefore can catch on the more sticky dough inside the bread, pulling the dough with it and resulting in a shaggy and untidy cut.
Our Lames and Dough scoring knives all feature super sharp and thin razor blades which with practice glide through the dough cleanly resulting in a uniform cut that will allow the bread to rise evenly.
Holding your Lame at a 45-degree angle to the bread gives you the optimum cut allowing the upper part of the dough chance to raise up and form an ear.
Too obtuse or acute an angle and the "ear" won't be as pronounced or will simple collapse, sealing up the bread again.
Too deep a cut and the dough will seal up again and too shallow it won't expand enough and be simply more of a decorative cut.
The trick to a good slashing movement is the decisive and confident stroke of a seasoned baker. If the blade is drawn too slowly across the dough it will stick and end up being messy.
Only practice will help you with this, so making a few errors along the way are brings you one step closer to consistent slashes that will be satisfying to perform and give you rewarding results.
Check out our videos on using lames and get practising.
Helpful lingo: baking terminology
Dough scoring knife: the blade used to cut slashes in the top of the loaf
Lame: the blade of the dough cutting knife, pronounced “larm”
Grignette: the holder or handler of the dough cutting knife, pronounced “grin-yet” often used to describe the blade and holder together, as in “can you fetch me the grignette”
La Grigne: the cut itself, pronounced “green-ye”
BakeryBits Walnut Twist Puck Lame + FREE blades
Sometimes described as a “UFO” dough blade, this is an ultra-sharp blade in a beautiful walnut holder that we’ve named our Walnut Twist Puck. If you want to step up from a razor blade or plastic lame you’ll love this. The wood is hand-finished and polished so it feels comfortable and secure in your hand, with enough grip on the wood to allow you to hold and cut with precision. Tactile to hold, you will be very close to the dough which gives you ultimate manoeuvrability. The Puck Lame keeps the blade steady and straight for long slashes or decorative work. The blade can be retracted into the handle for safe storage.
Mure Peyrot Range at BakeryBits: France’s leading manufacturer of lame for bakers.
Landaise Lame for Bread Dough Scoring
The Landaise lame holds the blade completely flat, excellent for most general-purpose dough cutting. This is an excellent tool used by many artisan bakers, and the blades can be replaced easily.
Bordelaise Professional Lame or Grignette
Much like the Landaise except for one unique aspect. Contained with the Bordelaise lame is a strip of metal composed of a material called “spring steel”. Made from tempered carbon steel this metal is able to be twisted and bent without any distortion. So once the blade is in place, with the plastic cover locked on securely, the holder and blade can be bent into a curved shape, or then restored to a straight shape. A curved shape on the blade will, with practice help you flip up the top edge of the dough so the lame can pass through without sticking and dragging.
Boulange Professional Lame, with an Ergonomically Twisted Handle
The Boulange blade is fitted in pre-formed curved plastic that holds the blade at a curved angle aiding the slashing with the right technique, and also has a twist in the handle to fit the shape of your hand very comfortably helping you create that 45-degree angle with ease. If you are slashing a lot of dough then this Lame will help any fatigue from holding the blade in the correct position.
Permanent Fixed-blade Lames
These are especially useful in situations where the possibility of removing and replacing blades is too risky (for example: unskilled bakers in a food-service operation where blades cannot suddenly be lost; or bakers with dexterity challenges). This does limit the number of times the blades can be used at their best and sharpest, though if you’re ok with the blade dulling and dragging somewhat the manufacturers report you can get up to 1000 “slashes” out of them.
Dough Scoring Knife
An ultra-sharp permanent blade and a snap-off protector (before first use). It has a much thinner blade than the double-sided grignette, excellent for fine slashing and decorative work. We have all seen those videos of bread being decorated with a number of small incisions that slowly expand under baking to reveal ear's of wheat or fancy patterns. This is a great tool that will help you have control over your cuts as you can hold it like a pencil for skilled work.
Double sided Grignette or Lame, with blade cover
A permanent, curved blade supplied with a removable cover, used to cut slashes across bread dough to control the oven spring as the dough bakes - and allows for anyone creative to design patterns in the dough. A great starter lame or gift for the budding baker.
Rotatable Grignette or Lame, with blade cover, double-sided
Almost the same as the double-sided As each corner of the blade becomes dulled, it can be rotated through 180 degrees to use the remaining sharp corners.
Zatoba luxury black walnut baker’s lame
The Zatoba bakers lame holder is hand cut from American black walnut, the brass finger rest is a striking contrast to the handle and serves to hold the blade firmly in place. Each lame comes in its own storage box and with 5 spare blades. This Lame is great to hold and with practice, is very versatile from lots of long slashes to small decorative work aided by the long handle that enables you to move your hand closer or further away from the blade. Beautiful to use and own, and great as a gift.