The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tips for scoring high-hydration loaves?

Weizenbrot's picture

Tips for scoring high-hydration loaves?

I recently made a no-knead pan loaf, about 79% hydration. The flour mix was 50% AP flour, 44% WW flour, and 6% rye flour. The recipe included 6% vegetable oil and 10% honey.

When I tried to score the loaf with a single-edge razor blade, the blade got stuck and dragged across the loaf, making a mess. 

Anyone have tips for  scoring high-hydration loaves? Would flouring the top of the loaf help? Or, greasing the blade?


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or letting the surface air dry a for a few minutes before scoring.  Or score faster.... think "Zorro!"   

alfanso's picture

A starter kit:

  • score completely end to end, whether scoring once, twice or more on a loaf
  • higher hydration doughs take a more 'severe' blade angle generally with less depth than a lower hydration dough
  • use the shoulder as a pendulum for the movement, and not the wrist
  • turn the hand so that the forearm radius is facing up
  • dip the tip of the blade in something like olive oil to help against drag.  Until you improve.
  • don't hesitate.
  • dont rush
  • good shaping with a taut skin will also help

skill and confidence over time will automatically improve the scoring to the point where you don't have to rethink the checklist each time.

Oh, and practice, practice practice.  ;-)

albacore's picture

Make sure your blade is sharp. In my experience a blade is only really sharp for one session, even if you've only scored two loaves. Use the same blade a week later and it's nothing like as sharp - even if it's one of the unused corners.

If the dough turns out to be riper than I would like (ie it starts to spread as soon as you turn it out of the banneton!) I pass on the lame and go for a small Kai non-stick serrated knife that I reserve for this purpose - there's much less drag with it than a razor blade.


alfanso's picture

however, changing blades after each one or two loaves, I've never found to be necessary.  Using a standard double edged shaving razor blade on a lame holder, I get somewhere around 20 loaves of bread before changing corners.  As I usually make four scores per loaf, that comes to about 80 scores per blade tip.  A few less scores if a LOT of the scores are through dough with fruit or nuts.  That grants me the better part of 80 loaves on a single blade with 4 corners.

Consider that professional bakers score hundreds of loaves a day with these blades, and the overhead necessary to change blades after every few loaves would be extraordinary.

albacore's picture

I fully agree that you can score lots of loaves with one blade (even one corner) in one session.

As a home baker I am probably only scoring three loaves per session. My experience is that if I come to use the same blade 7 days later, it is much less sharp and doesn't perform as well. Even the unused corners, although useable, don't cut as well as a new blade. I think it's something to do with kitchen humidity.

Maybe if I washed it, dried it, greased it and put it back in the protective paper it might be alright.

Also when I score, I usually end up using the two top corners, as there's often a bit at the beginning that hasn't scored quite how I would like it, so I go back and rescore that bit backwards.

bikeprof's picture

a cold final proof (or putting your loaf in the freezer for 15 minutes or so before baking, uncovered) makes dough much easier to score

you can also dust the top with flour, which will also make for a more score-friendly surface

scissors also work (a la Tartine Book 3 Porridge Breads)

dmsnyder's picture
loydb's picture

+1 sharp sharp sharp. And a fast, fluid motion.


semolina's picture

using your forearm, not your wrist.

fast enough, without hesitation.