The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

stretchy, crusty ears - scoring technique (and maybe proofing, too?)

bdw7x's picture

stretchy, crusty ears - scoring technique (and maybe proofing, too?)

Fellow Bread-blog Addicts,

I'm new to the scene having brewed up my own batch of starter a little over a month ago.

I've had some successes and, again, being new to bread making, I'm pleased with pretty much anything that's crunchy on the outside and full of holes and most on the inside.  One thing I can't seem to wrap my brain around, however, is how to achieve a nice ear and a visual distinction between the scored areas of the bread that open up in the oven and the rest of the crust.

On some of the baguette posts, there are these really nice, textured, expanded areas that have opened up and have a stringy, doughy appearance that's vastly different from the rest of the crust.  While it's largely aesthetic, I really want to achieve this look on my own loaves (I'm a potter and printmaker, so surface and texture are important . . .) and I'm curious if anyone out there can offer advice.  I'd like to believe that it's a scoring problem but, as I'm slowly realizing how vast the science of this stuff is, I'm guessing it probably has something to do with kneading and proofing.




dmsnyder's picture

If you have questions after having read the tutorial, please ask.


jrudnik's picture

Hi, I have been baking bread for about 8 months now, so a little experienced but not nearly as much as many of the people here on this site. And I too have been in search of good shaping and a nice crust/ear with my scoring. And this past weekend a miracle somehow came out of my oven! In retrospect, the tips of the top were a little darker than I like and the shaping could have been a little better, but I am quite satisfied.

Vermond Sourdough

This is Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough using some AP, some bread, and some Rye flour (kind of ran out of AP) plus a little more water. Kneaded lightly (by my standards) folded twice, shaped into batards and retarded overnight. Baked straight from the fridge. Looking back, I think that it had something to do with the angle of the knife blade completely parallel to the loaf and the fact that the dough was cold, which seems to make it a lot less sticky. Good luck! I am in bread heaven!

LindyD's picture

His scoring tutorial is an excellent place to start.

That said, however, over the past three years I've learned there's a lot more to it than just "proper" scoring.

Dough development, shaping, and steaming are also important factors.  

I have a gas oven and only recently hit upon a steaming setup that is giving me pretty good, consistent, results. Maybe after another 100 boules/batards, I'll have perfected it.

Bake, experiment, and bake.

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi There,

David's provided site is good information and I have followed it before. I use a very sharp straight edge paring knife, specifically bought for scoring. At first I was never happy with my scoring. On advice from Shiang Ping(my apologies if my spelling is incorrect on your name, no disrespect intended I am going on memory) I changed my flour to a higher protein bakers flour. The change of flour was not based on scoring but on protein levels.  The protein level in my previous flour was about 9%. My new flour is 11.5%. My scoring and baking  style has not changed at all but yet I now recieve a better result with scoring.

The only thing I can put this down to is the change of flour I am using. Maybe experimenting on this basis may help you as well..............Peter

bdw7x's picture

thank you, all.  I made what we'll call a "follow up loaf" taking into account everyone's advice and tips from the scoring techniqu page and achieved MUCH better results.  I'll post a picture once I have a chance to upload it from my camera.  thanks again!