Scoring Loaves

February 27, 2011

Scores or cuts in the tops of loaves are there for a baking purpose as well as for aesthetics. Scoring controls the rise of the dough as it bakes. The dough needs to expand when it begins to heat up and if you did not score the tops then the crust would split open wherever it wanted to. By scoring you determine where and how your loaves will expand. To score your loaves you need a sharp serrated knife or a razor sharp blade called a grignette or lame. Most bread recipes will tell you how deep to make your slashes, but as a general rule of thumb, I go about a ¼ -1/2 inch deep for loaves like baguettes, and a ½ – 1 inch depth for boules and batards. It takes time to learn how to properly score loaves and move without hesitation. To make your cuts you should hold your blade at about a 45 degree angle and quickly slash the top of your dough. For baguettes you will want to make about three slashes that are slightly diagonal, starting each subsequent slash three quarters of the way down the one before it. You should use this same technique when scoring batards. Boules can be scored in a number of decorative patterns from a few slashes on the top to flower-like patterns. Scoring is like putting your signature on top of your loaves. You can make them as simple or as intricate as you like.

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