loafwithear

Bread Scoring with Confidence

Let your dough scoring knife do the work, as you’re scoring, slashing or docking your way to an ear!

Scoring is slashing the dough with a blade or a sharp knife to allow it to expand during baking. The purpose is primarily to control the direction in which the bread will expand during “oven spring.” Easier said then done! I found that out as I tried to score my first loaf. And the second was even worse.

Scoring bread has a lot to do with confidence. Sometimes you feel very confident and sometimes you don’t. Hesitation will result in tearing and you can forget about lifting your loaf by its ear.

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But there are some useful tips to help you:

  • Your slashing problems will be partly eliminated if you use a very sharp finely serrated knife, or razor blade.
  • Make swift and confident slashes, but at the same time be gentle (iron hand in velvet glove).
  • Let the knife do the work. Don’t press down on the dough.
  • Wet the blade in water between slices (especially when working with sticky dough).
  • If you want to create an “ear,” the knife blade should be held at a shallow angle (about 30 degrees) with the surface of the loaf, about 0.6 cm/ ¼ inch deep.
  • Practise, practise, practise, bake, bake , bake, score, score score!

Tips from other bakers you might want to try:

  • Some people spray their knife with cooking spray or oil just before scoring. I tried this myself with spray oil on my own lame and I recommend you give it a try, it cuts just that little bit easier through the dough.
  • Drawing the pattern you want to make on paper before you use it on your bread. Like someone did with a paper towel roll before putting it into practice on a baguette.
  • Check out this video of how to and how NOT to score a baguette, very informative!
  • Another great instructional baguette scoring clip is this one from King Arthur flour

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Our own (designed by Ed) WKB bread scoring tools are available in our webshop. You can find them here!

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22 Responses to Bread Scoring with Confidence

  1. Mapi says:

    Thanks for the tips!! I’ve been baking bread for a while now but still don’t get the “ears” that you mentioned. How deep are the cuts that you make?

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Thank you Mapi!,
      The simple answer to your question would be about 0,5 cm / 1/4 inch, cut at an angle like it says in the tips.
      But it does not mean that if you cut at the right depth, you automatically get ears unfortunately. Getting good oven spring, using steam, baking on a stone are all elements that help toward bloom, nice crusts and ears. And not all types of doughs/ bread are suited for creating ears. Highly elastic, wetter types of dough are best and using preferments will also help you in the right direction. So all these elements must come together first and then you just practice and bake a lot of loafs and practice some more…

      Maybe you already know this tutorial?
      http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10121/bread-scoring-tutorial-updated-122009
      If not, it contains a more elaborate story on the subject of bread scoring. Very informative!

      Wishing you lots of loafs with nice ears and happy baking,

      Marieke

  2. Nancy says:

    How do you make the round shape (cirle) in the picture above? I assume this is not scoring but the way you put the flower on the dough?

    You have a great website!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Nancy,
      Thank you very much!
      I think you mean the imprints of the flour on the loaf made by the proofing basket the bread is proofing in before baking. These are made of wicker or cane and are also called bannetons You can see them here: http://www.weekendbakery.com/webshop/

      Marieke

  3. Naouar says:

    Hallo,

    Ik wil een bestelling plaatsen bij jullie en kan me herinneren dat jullie in het verleden ook een oil spray verkochten. Krijgen jullie die nog in et assortiment of kunt u mij anders adviseren waar ik deze kan kopen.

    Alvast bedankt

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Beste Naouar,

      Wij hebben deze spray bijna zeker aanstaande maandag weer op voorraad.
      Ik zal nog even een bericht sturen zodra de spray weer via de shop te bestellen is.

      Nog een heel prettig weekend,

      Marieke
      Weekend Bakery

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  5. Brendan says:

    Hi,
    I’ve just started baking recently. I’m practising bloomers. The problem I have is that the bread deflates when I score it. It doesn’t really rise again during baking and I certainly don’t get “ears”. What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks,
    Brendan.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Brendan,

      Deflating can very well be a sign of over-proofing so check your dough regularly (finger poking test) to see if it is ready for the oven. You can find helpful tips here: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/the-myth-of-double-in-size/
      Next to that you have to take into account the recipe you are using. As far as we know a bloomer is a straight dough recipe with a lower hydration dough. This, in combination with flour and techniques used, can make it virtually impossible for your loaf to get ears. There are certain types of bread that develop ears more easily than others.
      Finally it is very important to create enough steam in your oven for that all important oven spring to happen. When we talk to home bakers, in a lot of cases we find that they do not create enough steam. You can find our tips on how to create more steam here: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/bread-baking-tips-making-the-most-of-your-oven/

      Hope this will help you a bit. And maybe you can give our favorite Pain Rustique a try and see how that turns out. You can find the recipe here: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/our-version-of-a-pain-rustique/

      Happy Baking,

      Ed & Marieke

      • Brendan says:

        Thanks for the tips, guys. I will definately make use of them in my future breads. Looks like I should invest in a thermometer too.
        I’m still practising the bloomer. This is the recipe I’m using:
        500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour, plus extra for kneading
        10g/¼oz salt
        1 x 7g sachet of instant yeast
        320ml/11½oz cold water
        40ml/1½fl oz olive oil, plus extra for kneading
        extra oil and flour, for kneading

        It’s a BBC TV guy called Paul Hollywood. His shows inspired me to try. He uses the “doubled in size” line too. He says to prove it for 1.5-2 hours twice.
        The bread always tastes really good but the texture is different every time :) Sometimes it’s very light. Others it’s quite dense.
        I think I would like to practise this until I master it and can understand everything that’s happening but I will definately try your bread soon. It’s probably good to try different things.

        Thanks again,
        Brendan.

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Hi Brendan,
          Maybe it is helpful to keep an eye on how much flour you add during kneading because if this is different every time it can also give a different result every time (with this recipe that states to use ‘extra flour for kneading’ you probably never know exactly how much you add and thus alter the structure of the bread). You are very right to try different things and techniques to get to know them but at the same time also stick to one recipe, really dive into that to get it just right. That is what we do too. We stick to a recipe for a while, bake and bake, make notes, alter just one thing at a time and see what result that yields before moving on.
          We take it you have seen our piece about the myth of double in size (http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/the-myth-of-double-in-size/). Lots of people stick to what they have learned at one point so lots of bakers still automatically refer to these things. It is the same with the ‘do not let the yeast come into contact with the salt’ thing. This is only true when yeast and salt are combined in a wet environment for a while but you don’t have to panic and keep them apart in your bowl of flour when seconds later you are starting your mixer and combine them anyway.
          Hope you will be inspired by our recipes too and let us know if we can help you with anything.

          Happy Baking!

          Ed & Marieke

          • Brendan says:

            Hello again,
            I will keep these things in mind, thankyou.
            I have actually been kneading by hand :) I’ve baked the bloomer 9 or 10 times now and a few simple wheaten breads. I’m Irish so learning wheaten bread is just necessary. I’m getting better. I think I need to have more control over all the variables. Get scientific about it. Proving time and temperature are probably two I can improve on a lot! Steam escapes from my oven too so I’ll see if I can do something about that.
            Thanks for all your great tips. You help a lot because I don’t have someone here who knows what they’re talking about :). I need you guys!

          • Weekend Bakers says:

            We hope to stick around for quite some time so you can talk bread with us some more no problem!

            Ed & Marieke

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  7. Paul says:

    Beginner’s tip for scoring.
    Hello Marieke & Ed
    While waiting for some new equipment from you ( it arrives the next morning every time and in the meantime there’s updates and chat: amazing web-shop-service) here’s something I want to share about learning to score bread.
    Although I am kind of a kitchen- and utility-knive freak (so that’s the pacifist variety), I could not get the slashing quick and clean untillI I tried -and I hate to admit I had one hidden- a hobby, snap-off type knive. The kind you use for cutting paper and cardboard. For me it worked every time and I start to get the right feeling so after some more practice I’m sure a real bread lame or blade will work too and probably still better. It’s just like learning to ride a bicycle with – to start you off – side-wheels attached and way more elegant than scissors!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Thanks Paul for your suggestion! That’s a great comparison…with side-wheels attached.
      Let us know when you make the transition and you remove the wheels!

      Happy Baking!

      Marieke & Ed

  8. Linda Jo Horton says:

    When do you score bread? Before it raises or after

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Linda,

      You score bread just before it goes into the oven so after the final proofing.

      Happy Baking,

      Marieke

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  10. Petra Robinson says:

    I just ordered the Lame, just so glad you ship to the UK:)

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