The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

tartine's "scoring" of bottom of loaf

ben zipperer's picture
ben zipperer

tartine's "scoring" of bottom of loaf

Hi folks -

For the final proofing, Tartine/Chad Robertson apparently "score" the bottom of the loaf with a single lengthwise indentation, using a bench knife. You can see this clearly in the Tartine Bread book on p. 64. Also see p. 115 for oval loaves proofing with the same indentation. Unless I missed it, the indentation isn't explained in the text. Any thoughts on why they cut into the bottom of the loaf for the final proof?

In the video breads are being proofed with the indentation at 00:37, 00:59, and 01:15. At 05:52 you can see some awesome shaping. As far as I can tell, it seems that the Tartine folks shape the bread for an oval/batard, but then roll the almost-shaped dough over into a ball. Then they "score" the bottom of the loaf and place the indented round in baskets for a final fermentation. Perhaps the indentation helps to allow the tight round to expand in the directions of an oval.

Wondering if any of you have some ideas about the purpose of this technique. If this has been discussed elsewhere in the forums, please point me in the right direction.



Caltrain's picture

I don't have the book, but the 3 parts in the video you pointed to look like fendu loafs. More info about that is here:

The idea is you "score" the loaf with a rolling pin, roll the halves back in, then proof the loaf right side up. After blooming, the resulting loaf will have "double peaks" rather than ears.

Also, as a side point, towards the end of the video the guy states his favorite part is cutting into the loaf while it's still warm. Uhh... isn't it standard practice to let the loaf cool completely?

ben zipperer's picture
ben zipperer

thanks for the good point - they might be fendu shapings, except that in the book the indentation shaping on p.64 uses the metal edge of the bench knife.

Also in the book, the specific fendu shaping instructions (made with the handle of the bench knife) call for the bread to proof fendu indentation-side down: "I prefer the look of a final loaf that has not opened perfectly along the crease." The book pictures on p. 138 additionally show that the side opposite the fendu indentation has also been cut.

totels's picture

If you turn back from p 138 to p 137 it quite explicitly says it's a Fendu.

What he is showing on p 64 is the instruction to transfer a shaped dough to a basket with the seam side up. He is not using the bench knife to score, he is rolling the dough off the knife into his hand after scraping it off the work surface.

RE: Caltrain

Also, as a side point, towards the end of the video the guy states his favorite part is cutting into the loaf while it's still warm. Uhh... isn't it standard practice to let the loaf cool completely?

One of the concepts behind Tartine bakery is warm bread, being able to take home a warm fresh loaf on your way from work to have with dinner. Their loafs work very well even still warm from the oven. You can call in, or swing by in the AM to place an order to pick up after 5PM(I did this often when I lived in SF) of your preferred loaf almost directly out of the oven, have a few slices with dinner, make some toast for breakfast the next day, and have a sandwich for lunch.

From the book(pg 177):

Bread is our staple. We eat it hot from the oven, snack on it while we make dinner, and serve it at the table. We toast it for breakfast and make sandwiches for lunch. The large loaves are often eaten over a few days.

Chad Robertson expects a lot from his bread, and he gets it, his loaves are crafted to be exactly what he wants. He talks about his quest to find a bread that can do all of these things, failing to find it, and working to create it himself.

Sjadad's picture

I looked at the photo in the book. Is it possible that since they use the bench knife to flip the dough it's an unintended effect from the blade of the bench knife on the bottom of the loaf as it's flipped?

yy's picture

the "score" is the result of tartine's shaping technique. i've been able to achieve the same thing by shaping the dough into a tight oblong boule , then turning it over seam side up, and folding it in half along its shorter axis to proof upside down in a rectangular proofing basket. the resulting loaf is shaped like tartine's and has that single cleft down the middle on the bottom. no need to create a fendu shape or to score anything.

the caveat is that i've only been able to do this at the stage where the dough has risen considerably (perhaps 50+ percent increase in volume) and has built up a lot of strength, typically after about 18 hours of proofing at 60-65 degrees. If i try to shape the dough before the overnight rise, it will usually slacken way too much and require a second shaping in the morning. nrxt time i make a loaf i'll include some photos of the shaping process.

ben zipperer's picture
ben zipperer

your cleft explanation made sense to me

MichaelH's picture


"Using the bench knife, lift each shaped loaf off the work surface and transfer it to a basket or bowl so that the smooth side is down and the seam is centered and facing up".

That is exactly what the photo sequnce shows. You are wrong.


yy's picture

keep in mind that the directions in the tartine book are for a boule proofed in a round basket, whereas at the actual bakery, they make bigger loaves and proof them in long rectangular baskets (which you can see in the video on youtube). if you follow the directions in the book, you will not get the cleft that they do at tartine bakery. chad robertson has adapted his procedure for the home baker. I personally really like the look of the original loaf, so I bought some cheap rectangular baskets to try and replicate it.

of course, there's no 'right' or 'wrong' way to do this bread. it's all about what each person finds important to achieve.