The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Help with scoring to get that busted-open look?!

ashleymariethom's picture

Help with scoring to get that busted-open look?!

Hey Guys,

I was wondering how to get that beautiful 'lip' that so many artisan loaves have where it's been scored in the top? I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, but every time I bake a new loaf- where I've scored it just plumps up perfectly even to fill the gap, leaving the crust of the loaf perfectly even, instead of having that awesome "busted open" look. 

What am I missing?!


dmsnyder's picture

Scoring Bread: An updated tutorial

Also, an anatomy lesson: That "lip" to which you refer is most often called an "ear." But, to Picasso .... Who knows?

Happy baking!


David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

David's link is a good place to start. For me, I never got the nerve to slash my babies, but I have no trouble using kitchen scissors. Just lay the sheers near horizontal to the top of the bread, and snip so you are not cutting deep but more like under the surface.  

Of course if you look at my later loaf where I did thst, and that is not what you are after, don't do it yourself.  My earlier loaves were cut with scissor points down and they look pretty but without the ears. 

SteveB's picture

While proper scoring technique is an essential fundamental for a bread baker to master (David's tutorial lays it all out beautifully), most bakers having problems with grigne formation would be well served by paying more attention to proper dough development, tight shaping and appropriate proofing times..


Joyofgluten's picture

Take care of the points that Steve mentioned and you won't have to worry nearly as much about what kind of knife you have in your hand or how you're holding it either.

cheers and happy scoring


BetsyMePoocho's picture


The comment by SteveB I think is spot on.....  If your dough is properly formed (window pane), first and second rise times good then I've found that dough surface tension, surface wetness, and good scoring technique is the key to obtaining "ears" during the "oven puff".

I've had good results from tensioning the dough during forming using the method for baguettes, rounds, and batards shown in the following video.....

What has been extremely helpful is after the second rise I remove the baguettes from the Couche and allow about 15 to 20 minutes for the surface to slightly dry or toughen up before scouring.  My scores are less than a 1/4" deep.  After the scoring I pop them into a 460f oven that is misted a couple of times during the first 3 minutes.  Then the temp is cranked down to about 400f.

Good luck and keep on bake'n..........


smignogna's picture

deep cuts at an angle should do the trick

Gingi's picture


your desired "ear" is a combination of a couple variables: the hydration of the dough, the blade you use, the speed of scoring and the angle of scoring.

Hydration - for my experience the best ears are produced in bread with hydration percentage of 65-70%.

I use double sided Israeli blades - brand name Derbi. For me, they work fantastically.

The speed of your movement should be fast and concise - never re-cut something you cut. 

Sharing here with you pics of nice, even, symmetric ears. I have tons more, if you want drop a PM.


tchism's picture

I agree with the posts above and would also add my own comments. 

From what you are saying yours comes out like, I'm thinking you might not be getting enough steam. 

When I tried my first loaves in my cob oven, I didn't get as much steam in the oven as I wanted and my loaves came out like this.

I think the one at the bottom looked a lot like you described.

The next few time around I made a better attempt at getting steam in the oven. The results were more to my liking.

Another thing that I thinks works well, is to do a first forming of your loaf into a boule and let it set uncovered for 30 min. Then, flip it over, press it out a little and reform the loaf to what ever final shape you want and final proof as you normally do. The first forming and 30 min. set time allows for a slight skin to form which you stretch in the second forming. This places tension on the surface of your final loaf that helps when scoring and provides for a nice oven spring. Provided of course you time your final proofing right.

Best of luck!