The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

question about scoring

mhattonmd's picture

question about scoring

No matter what I try, the blade ends up dragging through the dough rather than cutting into it. Have tried several different blades, angles, etc. Does that mean there is an issue with the dough? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

the more difficult it is to score. Practice makes perfect but you might find it easier to slightly chill the dough before scoring and/or dusting it with flour. The shaping is also very important. You've gotta get the right tension in the dough. Do you do a pre-shape before a final shape? If you don't then do so.

Alfanso does great scoring. Perhaps message him.

RoundhayBaker's picture

...but most of us (myself included) initially tried to score with the edge of a blade. I was corrected eventually by a master baker who showed me how to use the corner of a razor blade. It's why lames are so useful. With one you can score at any angle without your hand or fingers catching on the dough. Might that be the problem? 

hreik's picture

better at it.  Here's what I learned:
As Abe says, chill the dough a bit b/f hand.  Makes it easier.
As Roundhaybake says, use the tip.As someone else told me, and it's helped me, wet the tip b/f hand.

Make a quick motion.  David Snyder has a great video about scoring here:

Good luck



alfanso's picture

First - thanks to Abe (Lechem) for implicating me in the crime scene ;-) .  

As most will attest to, scoring dough is an acquired skill for all but the truly gifted, which excludes yours truly.  No substitute for practice.  It is a two steps forward (sometimes three or four), one step backward (sometimes two) kind of learning curve.  I almost always score dough that has proofed over many hours in the refrigerator, so yes, scoring dough which is chilled and more "congealed" is a great start.  RoundhayBaker is so correct about using only the tip of the blade.

There are a lot of good references on the Net, some not so good either, but here is a starter kit:

  • Reference David Snyder's tutorial on TFL
  • Watch Martin Phillip of King Arthur Bakery score baguettes
  • Avoiding reinventing the wheel, here's a write-up that I did for another baker here on TFL 6 months ago
  • A short video I posted on TFL, with scoring the dough on the front end of the video.  But more important than what I do, leave it to experts on those other videos to help you along.

A really important point is to try and analyze what went right and what went wrong.  Also keep in mind, that problems during the entire process from scaling ingredients right though baking will have a downstream effect on what eventually emerges from the oven.  In this regard, Abe is right on the money about earlier steps having that knock on effect later in the process.  So let's say that you are a magician with the blade, but the dough was poorly proofed or shaped, etc.  All the great scoring skills would probably be for naught without a quality dough to work on.

Good luck and learning and keep us up to date on progress.  Almost every contributor here is eager to share their knowledge.  This is a community, not a competition, so lots of good folks are resident Loafians.


jameseng's picture

...your attention to detail! It's great that you post these videos and information to help others. Thanks!

cgmeyer2's picture

i have not had good luck with scoring. i have used sharp knives & sharp (new) razor blades.

would a ceramic knife work for scoring?

jameseng's picture

I think the consistency of the dough makes a big difference as to the quality of your cuts. The wetter doughs are harder to slash. I've found 70% hydration works very well but have yet to venture to higher hydration levels with the current recipe I'm using to see if the quality of cuts remains. I have tried cuts at 80% hydration (with a different recipe) and have experienced trouble getting clean cuts.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Recently I've started covering my proofing loaves (proofing for 1.5 to 2 hours at room temperature) with dry cotton cloths rather than plastic or damp cloths. That seems to make it much easier to score and does not interfere with the crust of the finished loaves. Might be worth a try, depending on how you proof, what kind of bread you're making, hydration level, etc.