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.