The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What's your score?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

What's your score?

I've always held the lame a certain way when scoring loaves. I hold it so I score using the end corner of the razor blade closest to me. (See method 1., below.) But, at the SFBI workshops, both of my instructors held their lames so they used the end corner of the blade furthest from them to score loaves. (See method 2., below.) Now, Miyuki said it made no difference. It was a matter of personal preference. But I've wondered. I've reviewed the drawings and photos in books as well as various videos (You Tube, CIA/Calvel videos). I find that, among "the masters," some score one way and some the other.

So, even though I think I've gotten fairly good results with "Method 1.," I thought I should give "Method 2." a try. Here are my observations, and I'd love to hear which method others prefer, especially if there is a reason other than habit:

I made a double batch of Pat's (proth5) baguettes.

They were very yummy, as usual.

Scoring Method 1.

Scoring Method 2. (the method actually used on this batch of baguettes)

What I found was that Method 2. felt more awkward to me. On the other hand, I also felt I was forced to score with the blade at a more shallow angle (the proper way to score baguettes), whereas, using Method 1., my hand kept pronating (rotating so the palm was facing down), resulting in a more vertical cut relative to the plane of the baguette surface.

I'm hesitant to generalize based on scoring 4 baguettes. So, I'm eager to hear from other bakers regarding their experience, especially (but by no means only) from those who score hundreds of baguettes each week in commercial settings.

Happy baking!

David

occidental's picture
occidental

Hi David - this isn't something I've given much thought to before but definitely will experiment with in the future.  I am left handed but would say I utilize method 1 (in reverse) and would tend to agree that method 2 would be very akward for me.  I'll be interested to see others responses.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

if a differently shaped blade might do a better job since only a small corner of the blade is used anyway.  I do like the fact that the double-edged razor blade is essentially "reversible" but it does seem to be sort of a waste.    

I'm thinking an angled blade like a box cutter blade, but thinner and more flexible.  

I follow method #1, BTW.  

arlo's picture
arlo

I treat it much like a knife and use the tip of the blade, whether I am at work or at home scoring bread. Which typically leads me to using method #1.

To me, using the edge closest to myself would feel awkward on a lame. Interesting topic though.

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

Hello, while not hundreds a day, i score anywhere from 30-80 baguettes in a day, and have always use what y ou call method 2, it is the most comfortable for me, as i dont have to bend my wrist and as you said helps you keep the cut mroe to the shallow side, but enough practice doing anything and you'll be able to do it no matter what.

wally's picture
wally

David, I've done it both ways and personally prefer Method 1. Because I tend (as a righty) to grip the left end of the baguette with my left hand, while scoring with my right, Method 1 is less awkward than Method 2. Especially in production baking when a large quantity are being scored whichever allows you to work the fastest and most comfortably seems the 'best' way.

Cheers,

Larry

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I watched videos of European bakers reaching across the loading belt, quickly scoring using method #2 and it got thinking it was more natural. And as you say it helps keep the blade at a more shallow angle. I don't make enough baguettes to develop a habit but I tend to use the #2 method generally for everything.

Eric

fminparis's picture
fminparis

I never found a difference.  To me, the single most important thing in scoring (other than having a sharp blade, obviously) is speed. Very quick, zip, zip slashes, which doesn't give time for the blade to drag through the dough and pull it.  It can't be done too fast.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Actually I noticed the same thing at the baguette workshop, so I tried method 2 when I got home, well, I cut myself. Bloody baguette tasted interesting. :P

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

There must not be a scoring gene, because David and I use different methods.  I never even thought about it.  I use method #2, which just seems natural to me.  I wonder if David's medical school scalpel training has an effect.

I still haven't baked 100 scored loaves in my entire (four month) baking career, so I suppose I could experiment using the near corner of the blade without the universe imploding.

Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I do think Method 1. has you grip the lame more like you grip a knife (or scalpel). I suspect that's the source of my original bias.

David

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

I ask them to clap their hands together with their fingers intertwined.  Which thumb ends up on top tells me if these right-handed people (left handed knitters are different still) will be more comfortable knitting continental-style (with the yarn held in the left hand) or English-style (yarn held in the right hand).  There are different techniques for each.  I'm a continental knitter, my daughter knits English-style.  So no heredity there.

#1 and #2 seem a lot like continental vs. English.  It's what feels natural to the individual. 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Sorry, David, but that remark had me imagining you in a nun's outfit with a scalpel.  Better than a hockey mask and a chain saw.

Your habit transfers from using a scalpel.  Mine from using an ink pen.  I guess I use a Method #3.  Maybe I'll try to take a left-handed picture.

Glenn

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I use 1. as it's most natural to me...but I use both when scoring a  3 marks-triangle or more  on top of some boules...I suppose I could accomplish the same thing using 1 and rotating the loaf, but it's just easier for me to flip the blade.  I use both left and right hands a lot and so did my mother...if that has anything to do with scoring.

Sylvia 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Thanks to everyone for his/her comments.

My impression based on admittedly sparse data is that, while Method 1. feels more comfortable and natural to me, I may get better and more consistent scoring with Method 2.

My impression is that either method can feel "natural" and comfortable if used enough times. Either method can yield good results. Method 2., for me, is worth using consistently for a while to see 1) if it becomes more comfortable feeling with practice and 2) if my initial impression that it produces better and more consistent baguette scoring holds up.

David

proth5's picture
proth5

I've swiched back and forth and since 2011 is to be the year where everything is changed I'll try a couple of methods and see if any makes me happy.  But I tend to use Method 2 these days...not that I am ever pleased with my scoring.

Muscle memory is a powerful thing, though.

BTW: thanks for using my old reliable formula for your tests.  I posted a two pre ferment formula a while back on my blog and have now baked it enough to have it get my stamp of reliability.  What's more, my local group of bread testers (who have had the standard proth5 baguettes) are raving about the new formula (I had people snatching loaves from each other at a recent dinner).  I'm wondering how it would do in your hands.  I bake it both with and without an overnight retard for the bulk ferment, but warm the retarded dough before shaping and baking.  Both ways are really nice (and it takes a lot for me to say that about my own bread...)

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I have your newer baguette version on my "to bake list," but I like this one so much, it's really not easy to abandon it. 

David

proth5's picture
proth5

The old standard is pretty nice.  The new one is a bit more like a classic baguette, but with a certain depth from the levain preferment. Dough handles like a dream - and would probably be even better if you used the "folds in bowl" technique rather than the spiral (but I've got me this toy and I must play with it!) I wouldn't be trying to push it if the people around me weren't going nuts  over it. Try it - you might like it.

As always, happy baking!

Pat

occidental's picture
occidental

Hi Pat - is this the new formula you and David are discussing? http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20831/starting-get-bear 

Sorry David for hijacking the thread but I really like the old formula and I'd like to give the new one a whirl.

proth5's picture
proth5

Yes, that's the one.

I bake at almost exactly 5280 ft and that does have some impact on how dough develops.  I'm always interested to find out if the formulas work well for people at different altitudes.

Enjoy!

leucadian's picture
leucadian

I think Eric has an interesting point: reaching over a loader to score baguettes on the far side, method 2 would certainly be easier as it would extend your reach by several inches.

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

The photographic technique may be as impressive as the slashing if you took those pictures with your left hand!

Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

flournwater's picture
flournwater

David, it appears to me from the images that your technique, with the loaf oriented at right angles to your stance, involves drawing the lame away from hour body.  I have never tried that.  I typically draw the blade across the surface of the loaf toward me.

This video is pretty close to the method I use:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47skjpOtBSQ

 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I've looked closely at the photos and it appears the concave surface of the blade is held towards the loaf, instead of away from the loaf.

Or are my eyes deceiving me?