The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why the need to properly score

madruby's picture

Why the need to properly score

Another question for all the bakers out there...

Is proper scoring a requirement for a good oven rise and oven spring?  I baked two loaves this w-end and neither one had a good counter proofing.  But in addition to that, the loaves did not have any oven spring at all.  Then, these 2 possibilities came to mind...

1) becuz it was my first trial at baking, I did not know how to score very well so did what I thought was OK.  The scoring on both loaves were not very deep.


2) secondly, if scoring plays zero role in the oven spring (and if that is the case, can someone explain to me why there is a need to score then) and my loaves did not have a good counter proofing (even after I proofed my 2nd loaf in a much warmer environment than the first loaf), could it be that I used instant yeast that I stored in the freezer.  I take my yeast right out of the frozen canister and mix it in with my dry ingredients.  Could this be the culprit for a lack of counter rise and oven spring?

LindyD's picture

David Snyder has written an excellent tutorial about scoring, including the reasons why some breads are scored.

But scoring had nothing to do with the problems you describe.  Nor was adding your instant yeast straight from the freezer, although had you practiced mise en place (getting all of your ingredients measured and in place before you start), it would have had a chance to thaw.

Which recipe did you use?  Can you explan what you mean by bad counter proofing?

Don't get discouraged - there's a very good TFL handbook you can read (see top tab) which should be helpful to you as a new baker.

madruby's picture

Hi Lindy,

I described my baking drama in another forum (Arisan Baking) called Peter Reinhart Artisan Bread Everyday - Lean Bread Recipe.  If you have any feedback regarding my postings, it would be greatly appreciated.  I just don't know why my dough did not have a proper counter rise (and a good oven spring).   Cheers.

LindyD's picture

Hi Madruby - forgot to welcome you to TFL - so welcome!

While I don't have PR's ABE and have no knowledge of the formula or the process he advocates in that book, I am wondering if you used any steam during the first part of the bake.  Steam assists in oven spring, keeping the crust soft so that it can expand.

Something else to consider is the temperature of your dough.  This is a very important factor, especially when dealing with a cool kitchen.  Flavor and fermentation develops best between 75F and 78F.  A page from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread is one of the references at KAF - you can learn how to calculate dough temperature here.  It takes but a couple minutes to run the numbers and I've found that mixing the dough to the desired temperature gives me much better results than when I take a short cut and skip it.

Your original post mentioned the dough was refrigerated for about a day and half.  That's a long time and reminds me of the Artisan Breads in Five technique.  It could be that there was little for the yeasts to dine on - but that's just a guess.

If your kitchen is cool, try turning on the light in your oven for an hour - then check the temperature.  That could be the best, draft free and warm place around.

The important thing is that you enjoyed the bread.  Keep on baking, and keep notes of any changes you make.  We can only learn by doing.

Chuck's picture

if scoring plays zero role in the oven spring (and if that is the case, can someone explain to me why there is a need to score then)

Yep, scoring/slashing doesn't cause oven spring. But it's over-interpreting to say it has zero role in oven spring, as they're related in more complex ways than simple causation.

Assuming there's going to be oven spring already for other reasons, scoring/slashing does at least a couple things:

  • be sure even rather weak oven spring that's already there can proceed rather than being squelched altogether by a continuous hard crust with no weak points
  • "guide" the oven spring in the direction your scores/slashes suggest, rather than risking having it come out some funky place (like the side of the loaf)

Scoring/slashing also improves (?) the loaf appearance, and was used to identify loaf ownership when the whole village baked in a common oven. These uses of course really do have very little relationship to oven spring.

PaddyL's picture

....scoring was a way to identify your bread.  After all, if the whole village brought lookalike boules to be baked and didn't somehow make a mark on them, no one would be able to tell whose was whose.  Then, through the ages, scoring became a way to signify which bread was which, rather than whose.  Baguettes were scored a certain number of times, and had to be, other breads were slashed in different ways all as identification.

madruby's picture

Ah, such knowledge from you all...never thought I could learn so much from baking, and from this forum.  Merci a tous.

Bought myself an oven thermometer as one suggested to ensure temperature accuracy of my oven the next time I bake.  Will do the poking trick, steam my dough and bread even more (steamed the oven with the cup of hot water and that was it the other day)...anyhow, will incorporate as many of your recommendations as I can.

Lindy, Peter R. latest book is sort of a no knead type of process as well, with long and cold fermentation (similar to the ones advocated by AB5M and Kneadlessly Simple by Nancy Bagget).  It's a beautiful book, well written, with great pictures.  Through my bread research, I discoved that P. R. is a sommite on this topic so that is why I opted for this book.


KYHeirloomer's picture

MadRuby, when you're new to it, everything about bread making can be a bit overwhelming. But don't let it get to you. You can't learn it all at once. But, eventually, it comes together for you.

In other words, don't be frustrated by "mistakes." You learn from every one of them. And you've already learned the best lesson: if you don't understand something, ask!

I got seriously involved with bread about three years ago. Before that I would slavishly follow recipes because I didn't understand the process. Now, after innumerable books, questions here and other places, and several hundred loaves under my belt, I'm beginning to think I'll be a baker---in about another 20 years. :>)

Seriously, while there is always more to learn, you'll get the basics down a lot quicker than you probably expect right now. Stay with it!