The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What's your score?

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

What's your score?

I've always held the lame a certain way when scoring loaves. I hold it so I score using the end corner of the razor blade closest to me. (See method 1., below.) But, at the SFBI workshops, both of my instructors held their lames so they used the end corner of the blade furthest from them to score loaves. (See method 2., below.) Now, Miyuki said it made no difference. It was a matter of personal preference. But I've wondered. I've reviewed the drawings and photos in books as well as various videos (You Tube, CIA/Calvel videos). I find that, among "the masters," some score one way and some the other.


So, even though I think I've gotten fairly good results with "Method 1.," I thought I should give "Method 2." a try. Here are my observations, and I'd love to hear which method others prefer, especially if there is a reason other than habit:


I made a double batch of Pat's (proth5) baguettes.




They were very yummy, as usual.



Scoring Method 1.



Scoring Method 2. (the method actually used on this batch of baguettes)


What I found was that Method 2. felt more awkward to me. On the other hand, I also felt I was forced to score with the blade at a more shallow angle (the proper way to score baguettes), whereas, using Method 1., my hand kept pronating (rotating so the palm was facing down), resulting in a more vertical cut relative to the plane of the baguette surface.


I'm hesitant to generalize based on scoring 4 baguettes. So, I'm eager to hear from other bakers regarding their experience, especially (but by no means only) from those who score hundreds of baguettes each week in commercial settings.


Happy baking!


David

occidental's picture
occidental

Hi David - this isn't something I've given much thought to before but definitely will experiment with in the future.  I am left handed but would say I utilize method 1 (in reverse) and would tend to agree that method 2 would be very akward for me.  I'll be interested to see others responses.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

if a differently shaped blade might do a better job since only a small corner of the blade is used anyway.  I do like the fact that the double-edged razor blade is essentially "reversible" but it does seem to be sort of a waste.    


I'm thinking an angled blade like a box cutter blade, but thinner and more flexible.  


I follow method #1, BTW.  

arlo's picture
arlo

I treat it much like a knife and use the tip of the blade, whether I am at work or at home scoring bread. Which typically leads me to using method #1.


To me, using the edge closest to myself would feel awkward on a lame. Interesting topic though.

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

Hello, while not hundreds a day, i score anywhere from 30-80 baguettes in a day, and have always use what y ou call method 2, it is the most comfortable for me, as i dont have to bend my wrist and as you said helps you keep the cut mroe to the shallow side, but enough practice doing anything and you'll be able to do it no matter what.

wally's picture
wally

David, I've done it both ways and personally prefer Method 1. Because I tend (as a righty) to grip the left end of the baguette with my left hand, while scoring with my right, Method 1 is less awkward than Method 2. Especially in production baking when a large quantity are being scored whichever allows you to work the fastest and most comfortably seems the 'best' way.


Cheers,


Larry

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I watched videos of European bakers reaching across the loading belt, quickly scoring using method #2 and it got thinking it was more natural. And as you say it helps keep the blade at a more shallow angle. I don't make enough baguettes to develop a habit but I tend to use the #2 method generally for everything.


Eric

fminparis's picture
fminparis

I never found a difference.  To me, the single most important thing in scoring (other than having a sharp blade, obviously) is speed. Very quick, zip, zip slashes, which doesn't give time for the blade to drag through the dough and pull it.  It can't be done too fast.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Actually I noticed the same thing at the baguette workshop, so I tried method 2 when I got home, well, I cut myself. Bloody baguette tasted interesting. :P

RikkiMama's picture
RikkiMama

Edited:


My  bad, I misunderstood the Method 1 vs Method 2, but I'll blame that error to the migraine that I had while posting...


I've only started making breads that required scoring in the past year after I had taken some classes.  Even then, I haven't made that many loaves.  For the few that I've done, I also hold the lame like a knife to score, so that makes me a Method 1 user.


BTW, I recently purchased a wooden handled lame from breadtopia and found that it was a lot more comfortable to hold than the thin metal one.  And, it seemed like it was easier to score the breads using the wooden handled lame. 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

There must not be a scoring gene, because David and I use different methods.  I never even thought about it.  I use method #2, which just seems natural to me.  I wonder if David's medical school scalpel training has an effect.


I still haven't baked 100 scored loaves in my entire (four month) baking career, so I suppose I could experiment using the near corner of the blade without the universe imploding.


Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I do think Method 1. has you grip the lame more like you grip a knife (or scalpel). I suspect that's the source of my original bias.


David

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

I ask them to clap their hands together with their fingers intertwined.  Which thumb ends up on top tells me if these right-handed people (left handed knitters are different still) will be more comfortable knitting continental-style (with the yarn held in the left hand) or English-style (yarn held in the right hand).  There are different techniques for each.  I'm a continental knitter, my daughter knits English-style.  So no heredity there.


#1 and #2 seem a lot like continental vs. English.  It's what feels natural to the individual. 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Sorry, David, but that remark had me imagining you in a nun's outfit with a scalpel.  Better than a hockey mask and a chain saw.


Your habit transfers from using a scalpel.  Mine from using an ink pen.  I guess I use a Method #3.  Maybe I'll try to take a left-handed picture.


Glenn

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I use 1. as it's most natural to me...but I use both when scoring a  3 marks-triangle or more  on top of some boules...I suppose I could accomplish the same thing using 1 and rotating the loaf, but it's just easier for me to flip the blade.  I use both left and right hands a lot and so did my mother...if that has anything to do with scoring.


Sylvia 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Thanks to everyone for his/her comments.


My impression based on admittedly sparse data is that, while Method 1. feels more comfortable and natural to me, I may get better and more consistent scoring with Method 2.


My impression is that either method can feel "natural" and comfortable if used enough times. Either method can yield good results. Method 2., for me, is worth using consistently for a while to see 1) if it becomes more comfortable feeling with practice and 2) if my initial impression that it produces better and more consistent baguette scoring holds up.


David

proth5's picture
proth5

I've swiched back and forth and since 2011 is to be the year where everything is changed I'll try a couple of methods and see if any makes me happy.  But I tend to use Method 2 these days...not that I am ever pleased with my scoring.


Muscle memory is a powerful thing, though.


BTW: thanks for using my old reliable formula for your tests.  I posted a two pre ferment formula a while back on my blog and have now baked it enough to have it get my stamp of reliability.  What's more, my local group of bread testers (who have had the standard proth5 baguettes) are raving about the new formula (I had people snatching loaves from each other at a recent dinner).  I'm wondering how it would do in your hands.  I bake it both with and without an overnight retard for the bulk ferment, but warm the retarded dough before shaping and baking.  Both ways are really nice (and it takes a lot for me to say that about my own bread...)

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I have your newer baguette version on my "to bake list," but I like this one so much, it's really not easy to abandon it. 


David

proth5's picture
proth5

The old standard is pretty nice.  The new one is a bit more like a classic baguette, but with a certain depth from the levain preferment. Dough handles like a dream - and would probably be even better if you used the "folds in bowl" technique rather than the spiral (but I've got me this toy and I must play with it!) I wouldn't be trying to push it if the people around me weren't going nuts  over it. Try it - you might like it.


As always, happy baking!


Pat

occidental's picture
occidental

Hi Pat - is this the new formula you and David are discussing? http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20831/starting-get-bear 


Sorry David for hijacking the thread but I really like the old formula and I'd like to give the new one a whirl.

proth5's picture
proth5

Yes, that's the one.


I bake at almost exactly 5280 ft and that does have some impact on how dough develops.  I'm always interested to find out if the formulas work well for people at different altitudes.


Enjoy!

RikkiMama's picture
RikkiMama

I came across David's post about the SFBI video resource.  It just so happens that the sample video for "unloading from baskets" shows the person scoring the loaves using Method 1 (most obvious when the round loaves are scored). 


David, since you have a subscription to the SFBI video library, maybe you can check to see which method they use for scoring in the other videos.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You have to differentiate between scoring a boule, when you make your cuts straight down into the dough, and scoring baguettes or bâtards, when you make the cuts at a shallow angle.


I just looked at all the SFBI videos of scoring long loaves, and in all cases Method 2. was used.


Depending on the camera angle, it can be hard to tell which method is being used. One sure way is to look at the position of the baker's thumb on the lame. If the thumb is on top of the lame, that's Method 1. If the thumb is beneath the lame, that's Method 2. 


Again, this distinction does not apply when cuts are made at 90º to the loaf surface.


Hope this clarifies things.


David

RikkiMama's picture
RikkiMama

Thank you so much for that clarification, David.  That was extremely helpful.  I know I've got a lot  to learn about baking artisn breads.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm glad that helped.


If you haven't seen the TFL Handbook Scoring Tutorial, it might also help (although it needs another update). Go to Bread Scoring Tutorial (updated 1/2/2009)


Happy Baking!


David

RikkiMama's picture
RikkiMama

David, thanks for providing that link to the scoring tutorial.  That's one I'll be re-reading and referencing often.


I've got a batch of SFBI's Two Liquid Levain Feeding Sourdough almost ready to shape (used the hand mix method with stretch & folds).  I think I'll shape them into batards so I can practice Method 2 scoring.

leucadian's picture
leucadian

I think Eric has an interesting point: reaching over a loader to score baguettes on the far side, method 2 would certainly be easier as it would extend your reach by several inches.

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

The photographic technique may be as impressive as the slashing if you took those pictures with your left hand!


Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

teegr's picture
teegr

I'm actually amazed that I found Method 2 more natural to me IF I use a lame. I get a less deep cut.  For years I have done it with method 1 and just never felt comfortable using a lame, whereas I did use similar approach for 30+ years holding a single edge razor before I decided to buy an actual lame. I'm not a fan of the curved blades.


Disadvantage to just doing it with a hand held razor is that you tend to have less of a angle and just go for the straight down method, which works if your blade is sharp and your light handed.


A disposable scalpel (like comes in a medical emergency kit) works well for a standard old fashion farm type bread and is easier for me than a lame to get that angle, but isn't so practical and boy if you slip you have a major cut.


A sharp serrated bread knife is only thing that works well on a very wet dough for me, IF it is necessary at all.


 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

David, it appears to me from the images that your technique, with the loaf oriented at right angles to your stance, involves drawing the lame away from hour body.  I have never tried that.  I typically draw the blade across the surface of the loaf toward me.


This video is pretty close to the method I use:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47skjpOtBSQ


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I've looked closely at the photos and it appears the concave surface of the blade is held towards the loaf, instead of away from the loaf.


Or are my eyes deceiving me?