The Art of Scoring

One of the most common statements we hear from customers at markets is about the beauty of our bread. So how do we get the lines that make the beautiful patterns you see on the crust of the loaf? With a technique in the breadmaking process called scoring. This is the word used to describe the cuts made in a loaf of bread right before it goes in the oven. 

This is the final piece of creativity and influence we have on the loaf that we have so carefully tended to for the last 24 hours. 

Here's a quick 30-second video of scoring in action:

Do you have to score the bread? No you don't have to score it, but due to the nature of sourdough, the heat of the oven would cause the loaf to burst out in the weakest point of the bread. So the bread would essentially rupture and you'd have an uneven or lopsided bread without the score. 

Thus, scoring has a profound impact on the outcome of the finished product. The correct score can change how much the bread rises, and the shape of the final rise in the oven. Even the angle to which you hold the razor blade can impact the shape of the rise. The highly desirable defined "ear" of the loaf is impacted due to the angle of the razor. Yes, we want big ears! The picture below shows a loaf "ear".

4 Main Reasons that Sourdough is Traditionally Scored:

1. Control the final shape

Scoring the dough gives you a purposeful way to control the final shape, otherwise, as previously mentioned, the heat from the oven would force the dough to rupture in the weakest point of the glutens in the dough. Therefore, by scoring you are creating actual weak points in the dough, allowing the steam to release through these points. 

2. Loaf volume increases: 

By scoring you give the bead the opportunity to expand freely. With these purposeful "weak points" in the dough's surface, you now are allowing the loaf to expand in certain areas, resulting in an increase of overall volume. This helps to maximize the potential rise of the dough. Without these cuts in the dough, it could not expand.

3. Visual appeal: 

People really do eat with their eyes. Our digestive enzymes in our mouth actually begin to release upon sight of food, which is just another reason to eat beautiful food. So scoring the bread with unique and beautiful patterns not only makes for very photo-worthy bread but it also (hypothetically) aids in digestion!

4. The Signature of the Baker: 

These unique lines are like the artwork of the baker. Through their signature patterns, you begin to recognize the 'brand' of the bakers. We feel that we are actually signing each loaf when we score it. It's also one reason we named our Signature country loaf because it always has the Voyageurs signature "V" in the middle.

So there you have it! This is just another way you can truly appreciate and enjoy your loaf of Voyageurs Sourdough, and become a true connoisseur. Share these insights with your family and friends when you get together with a loaf in the center of your table. 

If you haven't yet placed an order for this week's delivery, you can find the open bake day listed below!  

A day in the life

People say that making sourdough is a labor of love. We think this is certainly true. Each of the loaves that we make for you has been carefully tended to for 30 hours. One thing many people don't realize is that making a loaf of sourdough using traditional techniques takes a minimum of 2 days.

Today we wanted to give you an insight into what a day in the life at Voyageurs Sourdough is like! The process is intricate, delicate, and artful. If one of these steps is skipped, done late, with lazy hands or even at the wrong temperature - the bread will be affected. Sourdough is very sensitive. :-)

A day in the life At Voyageurs Sourdough:

Daily • 8:00pm • Refresh the starter.
Meet Jude! She’s our Mother, the powerhouse behind Voyageurs Sourdough. Made up of flour & water she’s kept well fed (with more water and flour) and over time, through microbial activity, an ecosystem of wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria has been cultivated. She comes on weekend trips with us, and pretty much goes wherever we go.

Day 1 • 8:00am • Make the leaven
This is where we take a portion of the mother starter, Jude, and she makes babies... many many microbial babies to multiply in size (for ease of metaphor). Depending on how many breads we are making dictates the size of the leaven needed. This is the yeast that will help the bread rise. That's why it's called naturally leavened bread because there is no use of commercial yeast. It is all wildly fermented.

Day 1 • 2:00pm • Mix the leaven to make the dough
We measure everything out and then mix the leaven, water, and flour together. This is the beginning of what is called the autolyze process. Autolyze simply refers to the period of rest after the initial mixing of the flour and water, but before adding salt.

Day 1 • 3:00pm • Add Salt
Salt is added to the dough. Salt does more than just improve the flavor of the bread; it intensifies it. It also aids in gluten development, helps to control the speed of fermentation, and acts as a natural preservative.

Day 1 • 4:00pm • Stretch & Fold
This part of the process is very important in helping to give the bread structure. This is in place of the traditional kneading method in other types of breadmaking because of how the "stretch & fold technique" helps the gluten in the dough to develop. We do this between 4-6pm, and do a stretch every 30 minutes per batch.

Day 1 • 6:00pm - 8:00pm • Bulk Fermentation
This is the time that the dough rests for fermentation before being shaped in a loaf. This is when we go home to visit with our families and eat dinner during this quick 2-hour break!

Day 1 • 8:00pm • Shaping
Now we take all the dough, weigh it out into individual loaves, and do a series of movements to shape the dough into a little boule. Shaping usually takes 90 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how many loaves we are doing that day.

Day 1 • 10:00pm - 1:30pm • Final Proof
The boule then gets put into a proofing basket, which is made of bamboo, and will rest in its basket overnight in the refrigerator. This is the last "proof" or chance for the bread to continue to grow microbes and ferment. Then it's time to clean up and go home!

Day 2 • 1:30pm - Baking!
The ovens are on at 1:00pm, heat up to a blazing 425F Degrees, along with the cast iron pots that the bread is baked in. This is our current method with the kitchen equipment we use. This will change once we can buy a bread oven. It takes 46 minutes per loaf to bake, and we can bake 18 loaves at a time. For a typical bake day, we will do 4 rounds of baking.

And that's a wrap!

Then the bread is off for delivery - whether that is to your home, or one of the local restaurants or shops that we supply to in Green Bay! Most days we are doing both the dough making (Day 1) and baking (Day 2) at the same time. As you can imagine, timing and planning are crucial to make a perfect loaf!

We love what we do, and we are so grateful that you appreciate our art and care for the loaf that you order.