The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Scoring Baguettes-can't get it right!!

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sitkabaker's picture
sitkabaker

Scoring Baguettes-can't get it right!!

I have been trying to score baguettes but I continue to have a problem with sticky scoring. My blade is sharp and I am at the right angle. I have been proofing on a simulated couche made with parchment paper. I am wondering if using a linen couche would draw just enough moisutre out to make it easier....any suggestions??

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Your blade is "sharp"; but is it free of any evidence of residue from previous slashing tasks?  Any amount of residue on the blade, even a film, will cause the lame to hang up. The couche isn't the issue.  What instrument are you using?  Scoring seems to go best for me when I make one quick slash.  Scoring slowly (although I have seen that demonstrated successfully) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVSh0iLiAos just increases my frustration when the lame hangs up and snags the dough.  This is the technique that works best for me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=ZaLnzomvEF8

 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Watch this great video that flournwater listed above:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=ZaLnzomvEF8

Pay very close attention to every tiny detail regarding the scoring/cutting process.  If you are using anything other than a razor blade, switch to a razor blade.  Note that only a corner of the blade penetrates the dough and it is a moderately shallow cut.  Angle, depth, placement and speed are all of importance.  Also note that the baker in the video refers to a years worth of scoring to perfect his technique.  Practice, practice, practice.

Jeff

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

What's the dough surface like? 

Recently I let the dough form a skin before slashing. I noticed in videos that bakeries didn't cover their baguettes during proofing. I noticed a thin dry skin formed. I didn't cover the dough after I shaped them. The dry skin made slashing easier. I thought the dough wouldn't rise because it formed a skin. Actually, it did rise with good oven spring. The dough were bursting out from the slashes.

Before, I would cover the dough with plastic wrap during proofing to prevent the skin. The moist surface made slashing more difficult. The slashes would reseal itself or become jagged, and there were no oven spring. Nothing burst out from the slashes.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

...if using a linen couche would draw just enough moisutre out to make it easier...

My personal experience is yes, having the surface to be slashed in contact with linen for a half hour or more before slashing does help a fair bit. It seems to me that the linen wicks away just a bit of moisture from the very surface, resulting in a "skin" of slightly lower hydration, in which slashing is easier. For baguettes, the normal couche use is sufficient; for some other shapes, I'm in the habit of putting a square of linen couche cloth on top of the loaf while it's proofing. My further experience is shaping techniques that do a better job of creating a "gluten sheath" make slashing easier too.

Pastrybiz's picture
Pastrybiz

I love to decorate bread by scoring and the advice given so far is excellent.  I have cheated on occasion and used narrow little scissors.  I also have used the scissors to cut out grapes, leaves, wheat etc for decoration. It's all fun right?

 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Me too.  Decorative scoring is lots of fun.  Even when it doesn't turn out perfectly, I learn something every time.  I use this image

(click if you'd like to see an enlarged version)

when I'm explaining decorative scoring to some of those I teach.  It's a loaf I did for the BBA challenge last year and it turned out nice.

bluesaturn's picture
bluesaturn

Why does it not work with a real sharp knife, please? Furthermore, would a scalpel be possible?

Thanks blue.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

You can score with a really sharp knife, but to get a clean score, the knife has to be really sharp (as sharp as a razor) and short. Why short? The longer the the blade, the greater the surface area it'll come into contact with and, thus, the more resistance. That usually results in score that isn't as clean one might like or, worse, jagged. It pulls, wrinkles, deforms on scoring.

You can use a scalpel. You won't like the cost, however. The steel ones won't perform or last (i.e. stay sharp) any better/longer than a standard razor blade, unless you spring for the really expensive obsidian ones, which are much sharper than steel. Cheaper scapels can be found at hobby stores and are called hobby knives.

Mslatter's picture
Mslatter

In my very limited experience, the shaping process matters to the scoring process. One of the goals of shaping is to develop a good surface tension on the loaf. Where I've done that well, I've ended up with better scoring; when I've done it poorly, I had a worse time scoring. Not always a perfect correspondence, but common enough to recognize the pattern.

Pastrybiz's picture
Pastrybiz

Forming the loaves requires tucking and turning the loaves to the desired shape and creating tension on the surface. I've used every thing handy including razor blades.  The way the instrument of choice is used will give differant designs; this is my favorite part of making bread.  Special and Decorative Breads is an excellent resource and covers this using beautiful illustrations.