The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Doing something wrong with my grignette/lame?

breadpiglet's picture

Doing something wrong with my grignette/lame?

Hi there,

I recently bought a grignette/lame from an online retailer. The description says:

"This grignette has a fixed and curved stainless-steel blade (or lame) attached to a handle, overall length about 6". It is perfect for making fast, clean slashes on dough just before it is baked. The curve allows for deep, angled cuts giving improved crust and artistic opportunities!"

The problem is that I don't seem to be able to make anything other than a shallow, draggy sort of cut with it. I had more success using ordinary kitchen knives. I've seen people using these little things to slash bread on all sorts of YouTube videos and they don't seem to have a similar difficulty. Am I doing something wrong, I wonder?

I wondered, incidentally, whether it was blunt, but it doesn't seem to be. I tried scoring a lemon with it, and it felt very sharp.

Should I be holding it at an angle? The blade is like a convex razor blade set in plastic. Possibly the convexity is causing the problem? I'm not sure whether links are allowed, but in case they are here's a link to a picture.:

Many thanks for any advice! 

meirp's picture

I use an inexpensive box-cutter (similar to Exacto knife) for scoring I find I have a similar problem, when the dough in question is very wet. Otherwise, it works okay. I was thinking of moving to a razor-blade based lame, but I wasn't sure if it'd better on wet doughs. Could this be your issue?


isand66's picture

You need to cut on a slight angle and you need to make quick cuts.  The wet dough does make it difficult though.  You can try putting your dough in the refrigerator for a little while which will firm up outer skin and make it easier to cut.  I have a similar lame and have gotten pretty good at it with practice.

The key is quick cuts or you will end up dragging the blade and end up with a mess.

Doc.Dough's picture

I suspect you are working with dough that is too soft to practice on.  Try either a lower hydration dough or cold dough.


proth5's picture

"Mental mise en place" 

And then, quick, sure motions.

The other problem I've often seen is that folks hold the blade as if to cut with its entire length.  You want to cut with only the front half of the blade and angle it so that the back of the blade (the part closest to your hand when you hold the handle) is away from the surface you want to cut.  If it is not angled in this way, the dull back of the blade will catch on your dough and make a right mess.

King Arthur flour has some good videos for holding and using a blade and someone who is better at finding these videos than I will probably be helpful and post a link.

Do not use the Panera commercial as a reference as the baker is actually holding the blade upside down :>)

Also - you want that blade to be wicked sharp.  In time, your fixed blade will get dull - it will need sharpening - or replacing.  That's why most folks eventually get some kind of blade holder where the blade can be replaced - just a little more convenient...

Pioneer Foodie's picture
Pioneer Foodie

Sometimes I think it helps to hold the dough with your left hand near to where you'll be slashing with your right. As the more wet doughs want to move and grab a little, if you hold the dough gently in place with two fingers to resist that movement, it will slash easier.

meirp's picture

Good suggestion re holding the dough with the non-cutting hand, when it's wet. I tried it out successfully. Thanks Pioneer Foodie!

mkelly27's picture

And I threw it out.  I use a good old double edged safety razor blade mounted on a wooden coffee stirrer.  Cheap, replaceable, and it scores excellently.


Grenage's picture

Smearing the sides of a blade with butter/spread/whatever can help.

LindyD's picture

David Snyder wrote an excellent scoring tutorial which can be found in the Process & Technique section of the TFL Handbook.  Here's the link to that specific topic:

There's a lot of good information to be found in that section.