The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Well, dear readers, despite my recent silence on the subject I have not given up on my baguette quest!  For the last few weeks, however, I'd gotten a little sick of blogging about it.  This week was fairly successful, however, and so I want to share, and request some feedback.

The main change from previous bakes is that a little over a week ago I got a shipment of baking toys, I mean, equipment from TMB/San Francisco Baking Institute.  I got 2 yards of 18-inch linen couche, a lame/blade holder with razor blades, a proofing board (which I've been using as an all-purpose bench board), and a flipping board.  With these, I was certain, many of my problems would be resolved (specifically, excess degassing when shaping and transfering, and ragged scoring).  The first bake with the new equipment (last week) was a little rough, but this week I had things sorted out.


Crumb - First Half

Crumb - Second Half

I'm getting there!  The slashing wasn't perfect, but it went much smoother with the new blade, resulting in at least two ears per baguette big enough to lift the loaf with.  Crust was decent if not exceptional, flavor was good.  Profile was nice and round, a nice change from some recent flatter bakes.  Crumb varied within the baguette I sliced (the one in the middle, up top) from good to great.

Here's where I'm looking for feedback: I'm still having problems with the crust bursting between cuts -- is this the result of under-proofing?  Or something else?  I could swear this batch was fully proofed, but I'm not necessarily a good judget of these things.

Happy baking, everyone,


PeterPiper's picture

Variation in scoring technique

January 26, 2011 - 1:16pm -- PeterPiper

I did a little experiment with my daily bread.  I usually bake 3 or 4 loaves, with 3 in loaf pans and one free-form.  I have always scored them the same way:  the free-form gets on long central score, the pan loaves get two parallel vertical scores.  But this time I wanted to see how identical loaves in the same oven would react to different scores.  Latitudinal, longitudinal, diagonal, and the long low-angle cut.  The results are clear:

varda's picture


I'm a simple person and I'm driven by simple hopes and desires.   So while I may drool over the pictures of impossibly gorgeous pastries that get posted with alarming regularity on this site, I have no inclination to emulate those bakers.   All I want is to master bread with essentially three ingredients:   flour, water, and salt.   And that's not so simple.  For the last several weeks I've been cranking out alarming quantities of the stuff and slowly tweaking the few parameters available when the ingredient list is so short: dough hydration, starter hydration, and percentage of flour in the starter.    (Oh and also mix of flour and proofing strategies.)    I finally put together a decent spreadsheet to help me with this tinkering.    And now I can just put in the hydrations, and percentage starter (and flour mix of course) and I'm off to the races.    While I started down this road with Hamelman's formulae, I find I'm unwilling to go back to that right now, as I find I prefer higher hydrations and starter percentages.  

The first loaf baked after 1.5 hours final proof.   The second which retarded overnight, had a bit more spring. 

Basic Sourdough bread baked on Jan 17, 18, 2011      
Starter 67% starter first feeding second feeding total  
starter seed 245   plus 3.5 hrs plus 12 hrs  
Heckers 138 50 45 233 94%
Hodgson's Mill Rye 2   5 7 3%
spelt 7     7 3%
water 98 35 32 165  
hydration       67%  
total grams       412  
  Final dough   Starter   percents
Bob's Red Mill White 500         Heckers 124    
Hodgson's Mill Rye 30                HM 3.7    
KA White whole wheat 70              spelt 3.7    
water 439   88   72%
total starter / flour in starter 219   132    
salt 13       1.8%
hydration of starter         67%
baker's % of starter         18%
Estimated pounds of bread     2.53    
Mix flour and water plus 30 minutes      
Mix salt and starter plus 50 minutes      
Stretch and fold plus 35 minutes      
Stretch and fold plus 65 minutes      
Cut and preshape plus 30 minutes      
Shape and place seam side up in brotforms.  Cover with plastic   Heat cup of water for 2 minutes in microwave.   Place one in microwave, other in back of refrigerator wrapped in a towel plus 45 minutes      
Turn oven to 500 w. stone plus 15 minutes      
Remove basket from microwave and place next to stove - put loaf pans plus towels in oven plus 30 minutes      
Turn heat down to 450 slash and place loaf in oven plus 15 minutes      
Remove steam pans plus 15 minutes      
Place loaf on rack          
After 19 hours remove second loaf from refrigerator, and preheat oven, stone, towels and bake as above.          

Second loaf: 

Slices from first loaf:


varda's picture

why does my lame snag the dough?

December 19, 2010 - 5:15pm -- varda

I have been trying to score with a curved razor.  When I slash the dough, it basically gets caught in a snag and I can't move it all the way through.   I have read Hamelman's detailed instructions as well as read a lot on this site, but I'm still not sure what I am doing wrong.   I don't have this problem with the serrated knife that I use but I would like to be able to use the curved blade for baguettes.   I recently bought a lame thinking that maybe my homemade one was the problem, but that hasn't helped.   I still end up getting snagged in the dough.   Thank. -Varda

Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul's picture

Two questions about dealing with dough

October 11, 2010 - 4:48pm -- Paul Paul Paul ...

I have a double whammy here.


Alright so I've been making bread lately (along with everyone else in the forum), and I've been having a few problems, about scoring bread, and refrigerating bread. First, about the scoring, i use our biggest knife, and spray it with pam, but it still get a lackluster score in the bread and ends up deflating it. Any help?

bdw7x's picture

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

September 28, 2010 - 1:55pm -- bdw7x

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.

008cats's picture

"Ears" Roaring about Scoring...

June 19, 2010 - 12:28pm -- 008cats

This is the experience that solved my problems with scoring/getting those ears on my loaves.

There's lots of good info in this site about when, where, why and how to score; you can read it all just like I did.

But if that doesn't do the trick, here's what made my score something to roar about:

1. Double-sided razor blades, still available in a easy to handle cartridge at some pharmacies.

2. Break them in half lengthwise - now you have twice as many.

3. Employ them easily, safely, by hand. SCORE!



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