How to Slash Dough and Make Bread Ears
Slashing or “scoring” is the act of cutting dough, just before proofing (typical of some rye breads) or before loading the dough into the heated oven. The primary purposes of scoring is to:
- control how the dough expands during “oven spring”;
- prevent the dough from bursting where the seams are weak during baking;
- enhance the final appearance of the bread.
The “ear”, sometimes mistakenly called “grigne” or “gringe” (a French word referring to the bloom or scored opening of the bread), is an overhang of crust, formed by properly fermenting, mixing, kneading, shaping, scoring, steaming, and baking the dough. These crusty protrusions are common on baguettes and bâtards (oval-shaped breads) but also possible to achieve on boules (ball-shaped breads).
To achieve bread ears, your scoring utensil must be held at about 30 degrees to the surface of the dough and slashed with a shallow cut, about 0.6 to 1.3 centimeters or ¼ to ½ inches deep—without hesitation. If the slash is too deep, the flap may collapse from its own weight. If you hesitate, you risk dragging and tearing the skin of the dough.
Further, to increase your chances of forming ears, it’s advised to use a curved razor, preferably with a handle. Slash the dough with the corner of the razor, not the length of the blade. And use swift motions with your arm to score, not your wrist.
Other tips and suggestions to ease scoring:
- Use a sharp blade; consider sharpening if you believe your blade is too dull;
- When scoring a wet and sticky dough, wet or oil your scoring utensil and slash a more shallow cut;
- Wet or oil your blade between cuts;
- Gently hold onto the end of your dough for stability during scoring;
- Dry out the skin of your dough with a fan or breeze before scoring;
- Do not press down onto your dough with your scoring utensil; let the blade do the work;
- Check out this comprehensive scoring guide and videos on scoring.
1: Bread Scoring with Confidence. WeekendBakery.com.
2: Getting Ears (Not “Grigne”): An Observation. The Fresh Loaf.
3: La Grigne. FaireSonPain.com
4: Scoring Bread. The Fresh Loaf.
5: To Ear Or Not to Ear. The Fresh Loaf.
Author: Zita (bakingbadly)
Published: October 10th, 2013