The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Scoring disappearing....

Jonathan.Browne's picture

Scoring disappearing....

Hi all, my first post on TFL! A newbie for a little advice for the experts!

Every couple months I set aside a day to make bauguettes and batards - white and brown, 20 or so at a time, for freezing. I've been doing this for about a year, been quite pleased with the outcome. I originally used the CIA baguette recipe, and then moved to Peter Reinhart's recipes.

The challenge I'm facing is with the scoring - the first time I made the baguettes I followed the CIA video, which involvec compressing the dough as it was being folded into the torpedo shape, presumably squishing out lots of the CO2 - the bread tasked great, the scrong was perfect, but the texture didn't have decent holes. Since then I've experimented with all sorts recipes, poolish, long fermentaiton times. Every single time the bread expands pushing the scoring right out - but the texture is very nice. I often take a dowel and squash a batard along the middle, almost right down to the counter - early on this resulted in a rather pleasing score all the way along the middle of the bread, recently, like the baguettes, the scoring simply disappears as the bread expands. I've tried short, long and very long rises - still the same result.

Any assistance would be most appreciated. Cheers, Jonathan

dmsnyder's picture

I am not familiar with the CIA video you viewed, but I seriously doubt they squished or squashed. I suspect what you were seeing was the baker sealing the seams after each fold in forming a baguette. The pressure is generally applied with the heel of the hand at the points where the edges of the dough meet. You may have also seen the baker de-gassing the dough. This is done more gently than the videos I've seen make it appear. You almost have to be present to appreciate this.

There are many possible causes of scoring cuts not opening up during a bake. It may be due to over- or under-fermentation, over-proofing, problems with shaping or problems with scoring. It may also be due to inadequate steaming of the oven during the first part of the bake.

If you really want to nail down the causes, it would help if you shared your formula and procedures and some photos of your baked loaves.

Happy baking!


petercook's picture

As stated above it would help to see photos of the finished loaves. However, that said, if the finished loaves have more of a scar-like appearance, then that would indicate either not scoring deeply enough and/or under-proofing. Do your loaves have an unsightly "blow-out"? If yes then they are absolutely UNDER-proofed. If, on the other hand, you get little or no "oven-spring" then you are OVER-proofing. As you probably already know, the more UNDER-proofed the loaf the deeper you can score. I once had the same problem and is was immediately corrected by scoring a full 1/2 inch deep and also, at a 45 degree angle which will give an "ear" or a gringe in French.  P.S. the video you saw may have also shown the making of a Fendu which has a special meaning in Europe but I have forgotten what. A fendu is made by using a thick dowel and pressing down quite hard across the middle of the loaf.  Good baking to you.

Jonathan.Browne's picture

Thank you both for the quick response.

I just reviewed the CIA video for shaping baguettes - the narration and the video is somewhat contradictory. The suggested procedure "To make a baguette, gently flatten the preshaped oblong dough. Fold the top of the dough to the centre. Repeat this process several times to expel air and begin to shape the dough. Press the seams with fingertips to tighten the dough." - the video shows the dough initially being pressed with the fingertips until flattened, then the top is rolled about 1/6 over the dough, the seam pressed with fingertips to seal, and the process repeated until the dough has been rolled completely. The process appears to be more vigorous than the typical shaping that I've seen in the KAF videos and in the Reinhart books. Apart from the first instance, I use the KAF and Reinhart suggested shaping techniques, and so handle the dough gently.

See below for a few pictures of loaves made a while back (the photo quality isn't that great) - the first with 3 loaves was in Feb, the second with loaves on 3 racks in Mar and the last with loaves on 2 racks in Apr. All of the batard style use the dowel technique (saw this in one of the Reinhart books) - I was satisfied with the first, less so with second, and not with the third (although all tasted the same). The baguettes generally have the same issue with scoring - scars rather than ears - but the texture has been pretty good.


These used three different recipes, the first using the CIA Basic Lean Dough and two others using the French Bread 1 and 2 from the Reinhart "Crust and Crumb" book - recipes are followed to the letter. I use Les Moulins de Soulanges T55 and whole wheat flours, linen couches. The CIA recipe calls for 2.27 kg flour, 21 g instant yeast, 1.53 kg water, 50 g salt - hand knead, 30 min rise, fold dough gently, 30 min rise, fold dough gently, 15 min rise, divide dough, scale into 450 g pieces and work into oblong, preheat oven 475F (stone on bottom rack, tray on upper), 20 min relax, shape into batard/baguette, proof 30-45 mins, slash (using razor blade or lame) into the oven at 475F for 20 mins or so, cup of boiling water into the tray (and sometimes a quick spray at intervals, early on).

Because my oven will only comfortable accommodate 3-4 loaves, and I make upwards of 20 loaves at a time, the proofing is at least 30 mins and can be as long as 120 mins before the last batch goes into the oven. I've experimented with a range of recipes, proofing times, steam (sometimes spraying early on), hydration - but have not noticed any difference in the bread (in terms of the scores). Scaring seem to be getting worse, but the bread still tastes good!

Thanks again.

Irutigliano's picture

That is a beautiful display of bread and one of the cleanest kitchens I have ever seen!!! Can't help with your scoring problem as I has a similar issue but your bread looks darn good to me!


Jonathan.Browne's picture

Thank you, not always that clean! I think the scoring is related to over-proofing and lousy scoring. I've been experimenting with the "poke test", paying closer attention to proofing - and have studied David Snyder's excellent scoring tutorial and video (  - recent loaves have worked out very well. Also have started to add a small amount of malt powder to loaves, which has also really helped with oven spring (colour, crust and taste).