Everything you need to know about scoring Sourdough Bread as a Beginner
Do you get amazed but also a little bit intimidated by the pictures of beautifully scored sourdough bread when you scroll through Instagram? If the answer is yes, then you are in the right place. Here you will find the basics of scoring sourdough bread and learn how to create beautiful designs with one tool. All you need is imagination and a razor blade!
Why do I need to score my sourdough?
Besides creating a beautiful pattern, scoring allows the gasses to escape during the baking process, so the loaf doesn't burst open by itself like a volcano, but rather opens up nicely where you slash it.
What tools to use?
If you are just starting your sourdough bread journey, you might think that you need a fancy lame to create beautiful designs, but in reality, just a double-edged razor blade will suffice. I have been using razor blades for a while and only recently rewarded myself with a UFO lame. I like this style of lame best because it lets me hold it close to the blade, creates straight cuts, and allows for better precision when scoring little details. However, a simple razor blade is enough to begin; focus on the practice instead. And sure, not all of the designs will come out as planned but keep going, and eventually, you will find out which ones work better than others. Design possibilities are endless! A little tip: Leave the wrapping paper on the blade to avoid cuts (I learned that the hard way).
Should I flour the top of the dough?
Personally, I sometimes flour, and sometimes I don't. It depends on which design I'm trying to create. When I need the details to stand out more, I dust the top with extra bread flour right before scoring as I did with my Sourdough Pumpkin Bread - I needed the letters to be readable. If I want the color to be golden brown, I don't use extra flour (there is already rice flour on the dough from proofing in the banneton); also, I will mist the dough with water right after scoring and before placing it in the oven for a more pronounced golden crust.
How to score?
Since you can only cut once, I suggest measuring twice and plan the design ahead, even create a little sketch or find a photo of the pattern you would like to use.
To ease the scoring process, refrigerate the dough before baking for at least 2 hours in the final stage of proofing. That way, the surface is more firm, and the blade will cut through it better, just make sure that it is sharp.
Do it freehand or use a thread to trace lines on top of the floured dough, dividing it into triangles for more detailed and intricate designs.
Hold the razor blade steady and cut with a quick, confident motion.
For major cuts, go in 1/2 inch deep, for small details about 1/4 of an inch.
What type of score is right for me?
Scoring the bread dough lets us leave our own individual mark on it and makes it unique. You can simply slash it, put your initials on it, or create intricate designs, whatever you prefer. Here are some basic guidelines you need to know to make the right choice.
If you are using a recipe of sourdough bread with lower hydration like my Beginner Sourdough Bread that creates a large oven spring, then you need to combine large cuts for the gasses to escape and add small cuts for decoration if you like.
If your dough has a higher hydration level like my Sourdough Pumpkin Bread, then multiple small cuts will be enough, as the wet dough has less oven spring.
Scoring is my favorite part of baking sourdough bread, where I can express my creativity and create new designs each time. Then I wait anxiously for 30 min until I can open the lid of the combo cooker and see how it all turned out. This moment brings me so much joy, especially if a completely new experimental design comes out looking amazing!
I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do and if you have any questions, please post them in the comments section below.
Tools for Sourdough Bread Baking: