The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Do I HAVE to score baguettes?

rodentraiser's picture
rodentraiser

Do I HAVE to score baguettes?

 Since sourdough has obviously failed, I'm turning my attention to baguettes. I'm having problems with it (solvable ones, I think) but the biggest one is scoring the bread. I've scored it fast, I've scored it slow, I've scored straight, I've scored at an angle, I've used my knives, I've used a razor blade, I've oiled it, watered it, prayed over it, and sacrificed a goat (just kidding) but no matter what I do, the blade hangs up on the dough and drags at it, which collapses the little loaf. If I try to "hold" the dough, it collapses.


 Do I absolutely need to score this bread? What will happen if I don't? And would it be any worse than flat loaves?

alabubba's picture
alabubba

From the little bit of information I was able to gather from your post, I would say,


1. Your over-proofed. That would explain the collapsing loaves


2. Your not building enough surface tension when forming the loaves.


Work on those, and the scoring will be easy.


Allan

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I have no idea what would happen if you didn't slash it.  I honestly don't care if the knife drags the dough and the edges are scraggy; it looks more rustic that way.  Does your bread collapse when you slash, whichever method you use?  I have a feeling the slashing just makes it 'look' French.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Baguettes often have considerable oven spring. Without scores to "direct" the expansion, you may suffer blowouts in the oven, and unless you're awfully lucky they won't look very nice. Bake them and see.


If the baguettes are proofed in the usual linen couche (or something similar), then turned over, scoring should be straightforward. The couche wicks away some of the water from the surface, making a lower hydration "skin" that can be scored readily.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Scoring


I think it will answer your question.


David

rodentraiser's picture
rodentraiser

They could be overproofed. Now that I think about it, after I shape the baguettes, this would technically be their third rise.


 The baguettes are proofed on a cookie sheet. Yeah, I know, but until I'm working again, it's just me and the dough. No scale, no couche, no nothing. While I'm sure it's easier to bake using all these things, in my case I simply have to think outside the box and make do with what I have.


 Well, I am still doing a lot of experimenting. I get good crust and texture right now and I'm working on flavor. I'm using the no knead way of putting the dough together and I'm noticing that the less I knead, the better the crumb gets. But also the worse and sticker the dough is and the harder to form, so yeah, that may very well be why I'm not getting surface tension like I should. And the no knead way seems to be asking for rapid rise yeast, which I don't have. So I'm making an adjustment there. I'm also having a problem leaving it out for the required 12 to 18 hours. If I leave the dough at room temperature for that length of time, it rises too fast. If I put it in the fridge, it never rises (my fridge is too cold). So I'm dealing with that too. One other thing is that I'm baking them at 450°, so I don't have very mych oven spring at all. The high temp really does wonders for the crust, so I hate to turn that back down to get oven spring.


 But flat or not, the bread is edible, as my expanding waistline will prove, and that makes me happy.


 

noonesperfect's picture
noonesperfect

If you would please post your recipe, the comments you get might be more specific to your situation.  For example, a high hydration formula would be less likely to need scoring, but would also get far less oven spring than the "normal" 68% baguette formula.  No-knead formulas usually are high hydration, so this could be part of what you are seeing.


If your dough is rising too fast during the time you want it to go through the first fermentation, use less yeast.  That may actually change the flavor profile in a way you like, too.


450F is a good temperature for baguettes - you should still get good oven spring, especially if you find a way to add steam during the first few minutes of the bake.


To add strength to the dough, try the stretch and fold method you probably have seen described on TFL.  It's easy and remarkably effective.  America's Test Kitchen added the technique to their version of no-knead bread and raved about the results of 15 seconds worth of S&F.


Experimenting is fun - keep it up!


 


brad

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi rodent raiser


If you are slashing and the dough is collapsing then it is likely that it is over proofed so rather than collapse it bake as is . I have found that if using sourdough then usually the dough is put into the oven at an earlier stage than conventional commercially yeasted breads and with the higher hydration a goodly amount of oven spring ensues. with conventional doughs a lot of the scoring needs to be done at 3/4 proof  and then allowed to prove a little longer before going to the oven.


If slashing occurs at full proof there is usually only one direction that the dough is going and thats is south.


regards Yozza

Francine's picture
Francine

 


This post really made me roll over laughing; been there done that!  I know the frustration of trying to score bread and just not getting it.  I have resolved myself to fully realizing the fact that I'm 100% bread scoring-challenged.  I have filled one complete drawer with every kind of bread-lame known to man. Therefore, I chose to become a bread-scoring cheater. In the height of my frustration with trying to learn how to score bread I actually tried to assassinate my loaf of bread by taking an electric knife to it while scoring it.  And to my surprise this worked.  I know it sounds crazy but, I have found that I can score effortlessly using an electric bread slicing knife.  I'm using an electric Presto Bread/Slicing Knife which came with a bread slicing guide. The trick is to hold the knife at a slight angle and once you turn the electric knife on, gently touch the blade down into the loaf; you want to retract the knife back rather swiftly.  You do not want to use a slicing motion as you score your bread; just slightly angle the knife and touch down then retract knife from dough. Just try it; it works!   I just know that the bread-police on this board are all rolling their eyes right about now at the mere suggestion of using an electric knife to score your bread; what do they know? However, if you are as bread-scoring challenged as I; go for it! Do what I did and become a bread-scoring cheater!  Just bring out the heavy equipment next time you want to score some bread and release a few of those bread making frustrations while you are at it, as you score your loaf of bread with an electric knife.  Now, you will only do one of two things; you will either kill your loaf of bread or score it.  If you should accidentally kill your loaf of bread while attempting to score the top of the loaf with an electric knife; not to worry! The really neat thing here is you can resurrect that same loaf of bread again by beating the dough a few times on your work bench, showing that loaf of bread who's boss, and then letting it rise one more time; that’s called Bread-Making-CPR 101.  Using this technique and you will probably only kill your loaf one time; then you will get the hang of it. I got really lucky the first time I ever tried it; I believe that the higher-power of bread was with me that day [or more than likely with that poor pathetic loaf of bread I was attempting to score.  Nonetheless, the other thing I’m 100% bread challenged with, is posting pictures of my bread to this web-page; but, not to worry!  As soon as I can get my DH off the phone, he is having another one of those clap-trap conversations he often has, I suppose that is what people in sales do; I will have him post a picture of my cheater-scored bread for your inspection.


Hang in there Sunshine; you'll get it!


Cheers,


Francine


Presto Bread Slicing System with Slicing Guide and Electric Knife 3826       

Here is a picture of one: http://cgi.ebay.com/PRESTO-Bread-maker-SLICING-GUIDE-Slicer-ELECTRIC-KNIFE-/110589205666?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0   BTW:  you will want to use the Bread Slicing Electric Knife only for scoring bread; save the slicing guide for later use!


 


 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Glenn

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I can actually see that working, on a massive scale, as long as one keeps moving so the rotations don't score the same place only 1/2 " space between whacks...  with the right speed...    Don't tell my elves.

Francine's picture
Francine

Glen,


I don't have a weed-whacker; my gardener does though.  I will ask him if I can borrow it and post my results just for you! <grin>


Cheers,


Francine

Francine's picture
Francine

 


Scored Via The Electric Lame




 

Francine's picture
Francine

Well, I had 3 pictures that I wanted to post to my previous blog to show my handy work using an electric "lame" knife. [and preferably with some text and dialog thrown in there too]   Obviously, my picture and my dialog are not exactly together; I'm still working on that one. Can someone please tell me what I'm doing wrong here?  I printed out the FAQ on how to post a picture; got that part!  Now I just need to get my dialog and my picture in one place; help???


Cheers,


Francine

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

 Hee Hee  Now I understand.  Next time I make baguetes, I will wack them first in the hope that they might think I'M in charge.   Pam

rodentraiser's picture
rodentraiser

Electric knife...hmmmm....personally, I was thinking of just throwing the bread on the ground and stomping on it.


 Brad, you want a recipe...oh, dear. Well, I'm experimenting around with several recipes. This was the latest one (yeah, this is going to be fun):


A couple of cups of flour


A tablespoon of salt


A little less than 1 teaspoon of yeast (I had a friend give me a brick of yeast - I think it's Red Star active yeast)


 I mix this so it's all blended together and then add enough water to make it look like a thick pancake mix and this time I let it rise at room temp for about 3 hours (I'd say it was 70 °). It rises like a son of a gun and gets all nice and bubbly. So at midnight when I went to bed, I threw it in the fridge. Now my fridge is colder than normal and nothing rises in there. So at 5am the next morning I took it out (my guess is I have a polish?) and let it sit and rise some more till about 2pm. I don't know if it was still rising at that point, but it certainly hadn't fallen back any.


 At that point, I added some more flour until it was a dough and mixed it till it came off the sides of the bowl (or as near as). Dumped it on the counter, let it rest for half an hour. Then I kneaded it for maybe 3 minutes - just to get the dough somewhat smooth and then I made a round ball with good surface tension out of the dough and stuck it back in the bowl to rise. It rose for about 3 hours, doubling and then some.


 I dumped it all back out on the counter (incidentally, my counter is a chopping block - it's all the counter I have - don't know it that makes any difference), cut it into 3 sections, formed them into little squares and then let them rest. I wanted to give them 10 minutes of resting but they got 30 minutes again because I got a phone call.


 Then I patted the little squares down and folded them down and over and then rolled out the baguettes. I then put them seam side down on an oiled cookie sheet and let them rise again, probably for too long - I think they rose for about 30 to 40 minutes this time. Here is also where I may have messed up. I can cover the bowl while the dough is rising, but I haven't found anything yet that will not stick to the shaped baguettes, so I oiled the tops of them to keep them moist. That could be part of the problem with the scoring.


 Anyway, I turned the oven up to 500° this time and I threw in some ice cubes while it was heating up, so there was some nice steam in the oven before I put in the bread. I slashed (correct word there) the tops right before I put them in and dropped the temp to 450°. I have been baking them for 20 - 25 minutes and I left these guys in for at least 30 minutes this time. Tops are nice and brown and crispy, although they soften overnight and I don't know why and it drives me nuts - maybe too much moisture in the air here. Crumb wasn't perfect, but I definitely got bigger pockets of air than I did last time. Taste was so so - need to work on that.


 I also had three baguettes side by side on the cookie sheet, but I am going to cut the amount of flour I start with and try to just get one or two in the future. I can't eat as many as I've been baking, the neighbors don't want any more, I can't get the raccoons to eat them, and I refuse to throw good bread out. They're not that bad, but they could be lots better and they just look funny on account of they're flat (but not bricks YAY!).


 Before you ask, I don't have a scale, really can't get one just now, but yes, I could be a little more (OK, a lot more) exact with the measurements.


 


  My next experiment is going to involve making up the complete dough and letting it sit and rise as in the no knead recipe. I'm not sure how that's going to work, because I don't have a quick rise yeast. Plus I still haven't decided whether I want to knead or not. I will have a much stickier dough so that it will be almost impossible to form without kneading, but I'm wondering if I'm overkneading even if I then knead only a couple minutes, because of leaving the dough sitting around so long to do its gluten thing,


 With stretch and fold, I would have to knead the dough to get it to the point where I could stretch and fold it. Usually, the dough is so sticky, half of it is on my hand like a mitten. Last time I thought I would try kneading till it got less sticky and that's when the 30 minute knead was done - and it still didn't do anything to make the dough less sticky. However, by the time I add enough flour to get it past that point, then I have a dry dough that won't "pinch" together. It's a challenge.


 


 Kelly

noonesperfect's picture
noonesperfect

If you do enough stretch and fold, the dough will develop more strength and may stop being so sticky.  Try getting your hands (or your bench scraper) wet (cold water) to stop from sticking to the dough.  You could also use a little flour on your hands to prevent sticking.  In general, your description sounds like a very wet, slack dough - more like ciabatta than a baguette.  Try for a little stiffer dough to see if that matters.  Wet doughs are much harder to score also.


Regarding oiling the tops - are you also covering the dough while it rises?  If not, even with the oil, you could be getting a skin forming, which will prevent oven rise.  I don't think that is an issue for you or scoring the loaves would be easy, but you never know.  Try oiling the top and then covering the dough.  The oiled dough shouldn't stick, and covering it will prevent drying out the dough.  I've never had oiled dough impact scoring, so don't lose sleep over that.


After you finish the bake, try turning off the oven, but leaving the loaves in the oven (with a wooden spoon or something propping open the oven door slightly) for 5 or 10 minutes.  That will dry out the crust quite a bit without drastically affecting the quality of the loaf.  Your crust will still soften somewhat by the next day, but not as much a before. If your bread only lasts a day or two (before you eat it all) you can always refresh the crust by putting the loaf back in a hot oven for 5 or 10 minutes the next day.  That only works once (any more will simply dry out the loaf and speed staling), but it's a great way to have good bread on day two or three.

rodentraiser's picture
rodentraiser

 Well, I did oil the tops of the baguettes and then covered them with a damp paper towel - which stuck to the baguettes something awful. Live and learn. But there wasn't any skin on the dough when it went into the oven. Maybe I should have oiled the bread more, but I don't know how that much oil will affect taste. The dough gets covered in the bowl while it rises and it doesn't get a skin on it at all.


So are you saying a skin would make it easier to score, but that it doesn't allow rise? I'm confused now. Which way do I want to go?


I guess I need to look into stretch and fold some more - I thought it was the same as kneading and it always looked like more trouble than it was worth, especially when the dough was so sticky. I'll add a littel more flour and see what I get next time.


 

noonesperfect's picture
noonesperfect

You don't want a skin, even though it does make scoring easier.  Using a couche is the happy medium since it dries out the top just a little, making scoring easier but preventing the skin.


Paper towels stick to everything - try cling wrap or a cotton kitchen towel.


Good luck!


 


brad

rodentraiser's picture
rodentraiser

 That's what I was afraid of.


  Well, here's the newest try: I am making two baguettes. The first one is mixed and looks like a regular shaggy dough. The other has a higher hydration and looks like thick pancake batter - I will add more flour again later on and see what happens. Both of these have had the yeast cut way down and both of them will now sit out in their respective bowls for 24 hours juust to see what happens. Whether they like or not.


  The reason I decided to try a wet dough again is because I found a video and someone showing how to do a French fold on very wet and sticky dough (it was almost as sticky as mine had been!). I have to admit that I was impressed with this video, because it's the only one I saw where the guy did his folds and you could see the dough all the way through. Usually the videos I've seen involve someone putting their hands on a wet piece of dough, the camera cuts away, and when it comes back, voila! perfect dough on a perfectly clean counter. That always made me suspicious.


 I will see how this works out and then I will do another recipe I saw here where the person folds every 20 or 45 minutes or something like that. I would be doing that one today too, but I ran out of bowls.


 Oh, and I guess I will slash the little suckers then. I will just try to not let them overproof this time.


 Kelly


 

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

Kelly, it is obvious that you are a free spirit.  Pam

rodentraiser's picture
rodentraiser

Why do I have the feeling this isn't a good thing when it comes to bread making? LOL

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

I remember my grandmother making bread and she just seemed to throw it together.  However, after trying it that way about 30 years ago (disaster) I also recalled that she made about 8 loaves every Monday and Thursday for abput 35 years so maybe she really wasn't just "throwing" it together.  Now I follow the recipe and just dance and sing and throw some flour around if I'm feeling a bit wild!    Pam 

ronhol's picture
ronhol

Kelly, I use the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day technique, and I have had a real problem with slashing.


After trying numerous knives and even a single edged razor blade, I finally discovered a technique that seems to work for me.


Instead of trying to slash deep on the first pass, I use multiple passes in the same slash, each time cutting a little deeper, till I'm about 1/4" deep.


Works well, without snagging the dough, and causing the loaf to get misshapen or deflated.


I use a small sharp paring knife, and dip it in a cup of water to keep it wet and clean.

teketeke's picture
teketeke

I agree with Allan. Your baguettes are overprooved.  I have had the same problem like you.


I think that will help you.


http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/82234-demo-proving-bread/


 I think that is very important to have ears and blooms.  I start to ready to score and make steam ( boiling water) when I see my test-dough rises 1.3 times in bulk. My baguette dough is 80% hydration. ( usually 1.5 times in bulk)


Happy baking,


Akiko