The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

"Ears" Roaring about Scoring...

008cats's picture

"Ears" Roaring about Scoring...

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!


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, 008cats.

You can achieve ears with other cutting implements, but I agree that razors rock.

I'd add a couple notes to your listed procedures:

2b. Mounting razor blades on a handle - the real thing from TMB baking (See Baking Supplies) or a coffee stirrer or popsicle stick - makes scoring even easier.

4. Razor blades work well because they are really, really sharp. Don't hesitate to trash one that drags and replace it with a new one.


sebasto06's picture

Hiya guys,


One more hint for a successful scoring, when everything else has failed to work, since i've had recorded so many miserable failures myself : pour some vegetable oil in a small cup ang dip your razor blade into it before attempting to score. Then, repeat the process for each slash, you'll be amazed at how much easier, faster and more efficient the scoring process becomes. Oh, and also make sure your blade's toroughly cleaned from any dough residue between each slash.



tc's picture

I've tried dipping all kinds of blades (razor, serrated, carving knife, you name it) in water before each slash, but my scores inevitably disappear during baking. Is this more of a dough problem, or do I need to make deeper cuts (currently my cuts are 1/2 in deep). The cuts seem to disappear in the dough before baking as well, and if they do stay, then during baking I lose them. This happens with any kind of bread I'm making, several different recipes.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

so that one side of the cut is thicker than the other side?  Tip you knife or blade at a sharp angle to the surface of the dough more like you want to cut under the "skin" instead of just cutting the surface tension.  When scoring think about the dough expanding...  the already shaped skin will not stretch as much as the exposed area left open by scoring.    There is no tension over the score so it will expand easily away from the initial cut.  The trick to scoring is using this to your advantage.   If you cut at an angle under the skin so the score is given a good hunk of dough to use in stretching then it will keep moving during the bake resulting in greater crust color and texture differences.  Another important factor is getting the oven hot enough (and then turning it down.)  This sets the slower expanding skin as scores opens up.  Any surface turning brown is more than likely not stretching.  Expanding surfaces will be lighter in color.   Important to have heat under the loaf driving expanding gasses toward the weak spots in the surface skin.    

Also, try spraying the loaf instead of the blade before slashing?  Or dusting the loaves with flour or seeds before slashing?  If the slashes "disappear in the dough before baking"  I am wondering... how long is the wait after slashing and before baking?  Slashing is most often done just before the dough goes into the oven so the exposed surface has no time to dry out.    If you lightly oil your hands (and maybe wet them) and gently pat the surface of the dough before slashing, several things are happening.  Not only do you get to grope your dough and feel it (enjoy every minute and test for air pockets and springiness) but the surface has two distinct surfaces after slashing: one sticky, one not; one heats and browns faster, one not; one may be shiny, one not; one exposes the gluten threads, one not.  These differences should keep your slashes from disappearing.



tc's picture

Mini oven, thanks for your very clear and detailed advice! I've read lots of posts and seen lots of videos on this subject, but you explained it so well it makes much more sense to me now. I will try to follow your example the next time I bake.

Mebake's picture

tc, your scoring disappears either because:

1) Your dough surface tension is weak, due to poor shaping or

2) You are not cutting as deep as you should (1/2 inch should be fine) or

3) Your dough is overfermented, and will not rise enough to enable the scores to open up or

4) Your dough is too slack or wet, and will spread fast when scored, loosing score mark.

5) You are not steaming your oven during forst 15 minutes of bake, or other reasons i may not be aware of.



tc's picture

I think #1 and 4 are definitely happening. My shaping skills are beginner and pretty bad I'm sure. I've watched plenty of videos on shaping but they don't seem to help because their dough cooperates better than my dough does - which is often very slack and fails to hold a shape properly. Any advice for how to correct this? Thanks!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to build up surface tension.  That would help before shaping.