The Fresh Loaf

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Bec de Canard: I got it. Now what?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Bec de Canard: I got it. Now what?

"Bec de Canard" (Literally, "duck's bill.) is the name given to a sharply curved and hooked French lame. I've ogled these on French baking supply web sites and wondered how they would compare with a razor blade type lame for scoring breads. I recently found them from a U.S. source by following a link from another site. The price was quite modest, so I indulged my curiosity. If anyone else is interested, my source is Bridge Kitchenware (lames).


So, now I'm the proud owner of a couple of these beauties:



I bet you can figure out why they are called "bec de canard." (But it actually looks more like a bec d'oie to me.)


No one photo can provide a sense of this implement's true shape, so here's a more lateral view:



Pretty sharp angle, eh? 


Anyway, I want to try out this lame, but I have no firm idea just how to apply it to a loaf. I tried it on a couple bâtards made with a rather slack dough. I used the "bill" to kind of hook into the surface and pulled. Not pretty.


If anyone has had instruction in and experience with this type of lame, please help me out!


Thanks.


David


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

was a ducks beak or bill...aaahhh I looked it up , it was a good guess.  Rather surgical looking instrument...for working on bread.  I bet it works wonders!  Nice find, David!


Sylvia

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi David, how sharp are the edges?  


At first I wondered if you could slip a razor blade over either one - because of the angle of the top one, that would give you a much more curved blade than the blade holder offered by TMB, but that doesn't look feasible with the second photo.


I mention this only because I once tried using just the TMB blade holder to score.  Didn't work very well.


You're off to SFBI soon, so why not tuck them in your suitcase?  Maybe you'll stump the pros.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Lindy.


The lames are not very sharp at all. I wonder whether the baker is supposed to sharpen them prior to use. The would be a challenge, unless there is a special tool for that purpose. If there is, I've never seen one.


I am using the TMB lame with a razor blade, and it works wonderfully well. I don't think the Bec de Canard would work as well because of the sharp curve.


I will certainly ask about it at the SFBI. I am betting any of the bakers who trained in France would be able to answer ... maybe "No one in France uses that POS!"


David

louie brown's picture
louie brown

The Bridge used to be around the corner from me. I have tried these - and some of their other shapes - with varying results. They seemed fine for firmer or drier doughs, but not for slack doughs. I gave up on them because of the pulling. I now use a coffee stirrer threaded with a Wilkinson double edged blade for angled or curved cuts, and a serrated knife for straight ones. 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, louie.


Thanks for your response.


Do you know if they are supposed to be sharpened before using?


David

njbetsy's picture
njbetsy

My son purchased one for me at my request from fgpizza.  The guy told me that you use that thing until it becomes dull and then you put in a double edge blade.  I haven't tried it yet, but I'm sure it will give me difficulty!!


 

njbetsy's picture
njbetsy

Dear David,


I figured out what the duck's bill was but what's that?  Don't know OIE.


b.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

louie brown's picture
louie brown

They are meant to be used as is, David. As you say, sharpening them would be daunting. My best guess is that the oddly shaped ones are designed for specific types of cuts. Needless to say, I could be wrong about all this. Without knowing more, I found little use for them


 


If you discover anything more specific about these tools, I'd be interested to hear about it. I think I still have a couple kicking around somewhere.

njbetsy's picture
njbetsy

Dear David,


I forgot most of my French from high school.  Thanks for translating, monsieur.


b.

rayel's picture
rayel

Hi David, I know you are trying to confuse me. But for my part, I think I would have better luck with a real duck's bill.  Ray (You are supposed to laugh)

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Okay.


Next time I buy a duck, I'll send you the bill.


David (LOL)

rayel's picture
rayel

I knew I was taking a chance at offending.


Seriously though , they sell a stone that is meant for sharpening gouges, It is shaped like a half cone, so one can use the inner and outer part of the stone. Because it is tapered, you can find the right radius, to rub the instrument, with a twisting  wrist motion. It might be suitable for your lame'.


Ray

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I took my lame into a local hardware store where I usually get good advice. The salesman had never seen a bec de canard lame before, but he knew his tools. This is what he recommended for sharpening the odd shaped lame:



DMT Diafold Serrated Knife Sharpeners.


These are conical in shape. I got the "coarse" diamond sharpener. It seems to be working to put some sort of edge on the lame, but I will also need a finer sharpener to get it as sharp as I want it. 


These are promoted as the best tool for sharpening serrated edged tools ... like bread knives(!) ... but can be used on knives, scissors, flower clippers, chain saws, what have you.


Any thoughts?


David

rayel's picture
rayel

Hi David. Your first picture seems to show a concave and convex shaped edge, while the second picture doesn't support that. I can't seem to frame it in my mind.  Anyway, the diamond sharpeners seem to have a small diameter. Is it meant to be used as a file?  Ray

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The second photo is edge-on, so you don't see the curve at the end of the lame (the "duck's bill").


The sharpender is conical and goes from 1/4 inch at the base to 1/16 inch at the tip. It can be used as a file but also like a steel.


David

rayel's picture
rayel

Hi David, the stone that I remember using to put a fine edge on steel implements is an Arkansas fine natural stone. This should work to remove any wire edge left behind by the coarser tool. I have some tricky shaped gouges that i have used this stone for, and the resultant edge, was sharp enough to shave hair from my arm. The one I own is flat, and small 1"x 2" and has a rounded top along its long edge for getting inside curves. I have used machine oil with this to keep it free of metal buildup, but I would reccomend using water for your use. The cone shaped stone I mentioned in a previous post, was rather coarse, and used at the beginning. Hope this helps. Ray

rayel's picture
rayel

This description, finally sinks in. I can see now why I was missing the "hook"shape. Your DMT Diafold should do the job for part of the process, and for touchups. The larger area of the Arkansas stone, mine is white, somewhat translucent, will make it easy to find a surface that is broad enough to hone your lame easily. The stone remains flat on your work surface, and the edge, with your finger on the otherside, passes over the stone in a figure eight,  while rocking so that any curve is evenly sharpenned, once the correct angle is found. Should be fairly easy, as there really is no bevel, to speak of, to run off. Its awkward at first, then will become easier. When you want to check your sharpening progress, one way, is to look at the edge with light coming from behind you. If you can see the light reflecting off the edge, you have a way to go. Ray