loading the bread into the oven is the most intense part. it’s the last time you touch the dough. after this – if you haven’t effed anything up – it’s bread.
it takes every last bit of concentration i can muster. every once in a while i attempt to have a conversation with someone while i’m loading, but it’s always short-lived. after a couple of exchanges my voice trails off, and i’m lost in the bread.
if i can dip the edge of my razor into the dough at just the right angle, and drag it across at just the right speed, and just the right depth, the cuts will erupt in the oven, causing what i like to call a violent explosion. the bread has come to life.
to this day, i am flabbergasted every single time this happens.
slashing bread has its function – it makes the loaf beautiful, allows it to fully expand, and also creates delicious textures in the crust. but it also has meaning – long ago it was how families would tell their loaves apart when they all baked together in the community oven.
these days, it’s one more way, one last way, that a baker can impart a small piece of themselves into their bread.