The Fresh Loaf

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Bread-scoring blues: lopsided loaf

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mickybean's picture
mickybean

Bread-scoring blues: lopsided loaf

Hi, first-time poster here. I've been baking sourdough for about 2 months, and for my last 4 loaves I've used an elongated cane banneton. My issue is lopsided loaves, which I assume is an improper scoring issue. Here I scored straight down the middle and, as you can see in the photo, ended up with a sort of wonky butterfly shape. 

To complicate matters, my last loaf was also scored down the middle and did not end up with a wonky butterfly shape. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. 

Here is another view that shows the uneven rise. It bulges much higher at the front, as you can see. I am not sure if this is a structural issue that occurred during shaping or a depth-of-scoring mistake.

The bread itself is a modified Norwich Sourdough that I took up to about 73% hydration.  

Any insight into better scoring patterns or practices, or anything else that might explain the uneven shape? Thanks!

UPDATE: Here is a photo of the crumb, if that helps with diagnosis:

WoodenSpoon's picture
WoodenSpoon

To me it appears that maybe you scored it a little deep and perhaps the loaf was a touch underproofed, those two combined creating a loaf who's spring tries to tear in half. Also even though you are proofing it in a basket if it was shaped unevenly to begin with it will be hard pressed not to hold some semblance of its original shape.

mickybean's picture
mickybean

Thanks for your reply. Scoring depth is my bête noire! But other than that, is the single incision down the middle a reasonable pattern for this kind of loaf?

I just cut open the loaf and uploaded a photo of the crumb, if that helps with the diagnosis of underproofing. 

WoodenSpoon's picture
WoodenSpoon

That crumb looks great and doesn't point at all towards my suggestion of under proofing. maybe try scoring a little shallower and if you are not already try holding your knife at a bit of an angle so you get a nice ear on one side instead of the two halves pulling away from each other.

mickybean's picture
mickybean

Thanks, I'll try that. I actually bought myself a curved double-edged lame that intimidates the hell out of me, so I'm probably overthinking every time I score. Wish I had more loaves to practice on, but in a two-mouth household I have to hold myself back :)

WoodenSpoon's picture
WoodenSpoon

yeah I hate that, its hard to experiment when you only have two attempts on something that takes three days to make.

mickybean's picture
mickybean

On the bright side, the recipe I'm currently using takes about 20 hours from start to finish, not so long as some others.

bbegley's picture
bbegley

Crumb looks good.  I have no advice that hasn't been shared already.  Keep at it!

mickybean's picture
mickybean

Thanks :)

I just noticed in this beautiful post that a loaf shaped very similar to mine was scored quite near to the edge instead of straight down the middle, yet the baked result is quite symmetrical and perfect. I'd never seen that technique before: maybe it helps the loaf spring up evenly instead of opening up like a book/wonky butterfly? Looking at the poster's photo of the scored, raw loaf, I am starting to suspect that my cut was too shallow rather than too deep. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yes, the crumb shot eliminated underproofing however, that made me look at the tight crust.  Look close to the darker banneton crust and the direction of the bubbles being forced elsewhere.   How long did the shaped dough lie in the floured banneton?  Too long perhaps, such that the skin of the loaf dried, got hard and didn't stretch in the beginning of the bake?  Could relative humidity play a role?  (dry? high altitude?)  

If so, try putting the dough into the banneton later after an extra stretch and fold.  The timing would still be about the same only the dough spends less time drying out.  Does that make sense?  You might get more stretch from the dough skin before it sets.  Another solution might be to tuck the filled banneton inside a plastic bag during the proof.

I would think the misshape is a shaping issue not a scoring one.  It could also clear up if the dough skin is a little more flexible.

Compare crumb and outside banneton lines to this similar loaf...

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/35435/farmers-market-week-18-whole-wheat-walnut-ywsd-combo

mickybean's picture
mickybean

Ah! Thanks. This is extremely helpful. I had not considered the outer dryness at all. In fact, I retarded the dough in the banneton in the fridge overnight…I couldn't find a plastic bag big enough, so I tried to compensate by wrapping the basket in foil and linen. I suspect you are right about the dough drying out too much, and I will have to find a suitable bag. 

adri's picture
adri

How did you bake the bread? (What temperatures, stone, DO, convection ...?)

And mainly: What did you do for steaming?

My first guess would be, that there wasn't enough steam so that the crust lost the flexibility early to create the wings and then the further expansion created the butterfly's torso.

My second guess: You did cut to deep and with too little angle.

mickybean's picture
mickybean

Hi. I baked it at 500 in a conventional oven, on a preheated Baking Steel, and then lowered it to 475 or so about 15 minutes in. (I think my oven runs a bit lower than the display indicates, though.) For steam I have a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack that I pour boiling water on. I think you are exactly right that the crust lacked flexibility, but having read Mini Oven's reply above, I'm now convinced that it has more to do with the crust drying out in the fridge overnight than anything. 


David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I use clear recycling garbage bags, they are enormous, easy to fill with a puff of air so they do not collapse on the dough. Obviously, they are not "food grade" bags, but neither are my dish towels that I also use to cover bowls.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I too use trash bags, with the same caveat that they aren't certifiably food grade.

mickybean's picture
mickybean

In between my original post and your reply, I went out and bought a box of 2.5-gallon jumbo ziplocs with sliders. They are the perfect size for a banneton (though they would be useless for a baguette), and even though they're relatively pricy as ziplocs go, you can keep reusing them until the slider breaks.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Those 2.5 gallon bags are quite handy for bread making, and bread storing, no doubt about it.

I still wrap the loaf in saran wrap before freezing based on people's recommendations, though I try to reuse the cling-wrap several times if possible.