The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Scoring No Knead Breads

mage789's picture

Scoring No Knead Breads

Hello all,

I'm a bit new to the bread scene and it has been a tough learning process, but I'm thoroughly loving it!  Forgive me if this is a very basic question.  I've looked through the old posts, but I wanted to make sure of my conclusion.

Recently, I have been trying to do the No Knead breads and just prior to putting in the dutch oven I would attempt to score the loaf.  Using a double-edge razor blade I try to drag it through the loaf, but all I get it a big wet mess.

What am I doing wrong here? Am I under developing the gluten or is the dough just super wet?  Should I try wetting the blade and/or surface of the round?

Any suggestions would be grateful!

dwcoleman's picture

Try wetting your razor before scoring.


Allow your dough to sit out 5 minutes to "crust" over then slash.  Unfortunately that won't really work with your dutch oven method.  Alternatively, you could dump the dough in the dutch oven, cook it for 3-4 minutes, then try slashing.

kvenick's picture

Hi Mage789,

I just joined  the site and this is my first comment!

You might want to try dusting the dough with flour right before you try to score it. I have tried razor blades, but now prefer using a sharp serrated bread knife. I angle the blade about 45 degrees and bring it quickly through the dough (say "slit" as you go to keep it moving fast), trying not to dig too deeply, since this tears the dough.

It sounds like you have very very wet dough. Not sure what recipe/formula you are using. I started with Cook's Illustrated version of the NY Times No Knead Bread, but have since moved to Peter Rinehart's recipe for Lean Dough in Artisan Breads Everyday. I prefer Rinehart's recipe -- there is no kneading, just pulling and stretching the dough -- since the ingedients are only flour, yeast, salt and water. And the results are excellent.

One more thing you might want to consider. I have baked in a Dutch Oven, but now use a pizza/bread stone and a plain lightweight aluminum pan (about 13x4). I shape/proof the dough on a piece of parchment paper, then put paper with dough on the pizza stone, cover with aluminum pan and cook. This helps capture the steam coming from the hydrated dough and makes for a nice crust. (I crank the oven to 550, put in dough, lower to 450, cook for 30 minutes covered, then uncover for 15 more.) If you don't have a pizza/bread stone, you can cook on the back of  a large baking pan.

Probably more information that you wanted...Hope some of it helped.

mage789's picture

Thank you for your comment.  I'll definitely try your suggestions.

Why the switch from dutch oven if I may ask?

kvenick's picture

It's too heavy - 10 to 15 lbs. I saw this bit about the aluminum pan on Jeff Hertzberg's site (Artisan Bread In Five Minutes a Day) from Zoe Francois, who was answering a question about steam in the oven.  I find I can get similar results and the pan weighs next to nothing. And I don't have to worry about burning myself! 

swtgran's picture

I could never get a decent score on the NY times recipe, so I just resorted to making sure I ended up with the seam side up, in the middle of my dough ball, when baked.  It gives it a rustic slashed look.  But that doesn't exactly answer your question.  Terry R

flournwater's picture

"I try to drag it through the loaf"

That may be part of the problem.  The cut should be made with one swift motion with a pull that comes from the shoulder and not the lower arm.  This example involves working with a baguette but the basic principle is the same.

That said, I don't slash my no knead breads.  They're rustic in nature and tend to open up voluntarily with the initial spring.

mage789's picture

I understand what you're saying.  I do try to do it in one swift motion, but the blade really just gets stuck in the muck of dough due to the high hydration.  Based on the comments, I'm guessing that just because the dough is super wet.