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Aug 16, 2020

Decorative Bread Scoring: First Attempt

This is my first attempt and decorative bread scoring with a high hydration dough. Now that I've given it a try, I can't wait to try again and improve my technique.

Decorated high hydration dough bread

This decorated bread was fun to make, and I've learned a few lessons along the way.

Lessons learned for decorative bread scoring:

First, I need to do a better job of coating the dough with flour before scoring. While I rubbed flour over the shaped loaf, it was not enough to actually show off the scoring! From what I understand, the trick is to sift enough flour through a sieve over the shaped dough... not too much.. but just enough. 

I'll be working on that! 

Next, I worked with a loaf that was proofed at room temperature. After more research, I've since learned that it's best to work with a loaf that has been proofed in the refrigerator. Fortunately, the dough for this loaf was super strong and didn't flatten as I spent five minutes scoring it. 

Other than that, this bread was amazing, and once you slice it, who cares about how it looks on the outside, right?

What I got right in this decorative bread:

First, this is a high hydration dough (76 percent to be exact). It bakes up with an airy crumb and a super crunchy crust.

Second, I used a mixture of King Arthur bread flour and Bob's Red Mill whole wheat flour. This resulted in a super strong dough, which is another requirement. It's essentially a no knead dough with just two stretch-and-folds. It came together and developed strength so well that it was actually difficult to stretch. I had no issue with the dough sitting without flattening while I worked on my scoring.

The goal is to use a dough that that is high hydration yet has enough strength so that will rise and not spread out.

You know you have a wonderful high hydration loaf when you pick up your large loaf after it bakes and it is lighter than air. This tells you that the crumb, when you slice the loaf, will be open and airy.

I'm usually not too meticulous about how I score bread. If I get a good ear, I'm thrilled. I'm usually attracted to the Ken Forkish method of proofing the loaf seam side down so that the seam side ends up on top and naturally opens.

Now I'm hooked on working on my decorative scoring!

This bread, when it emerged from the oven, crackled for several minutes. I was totally hooked on listening to it sing!

Rather than baking this loaf in a Dutch oven or using a steam pan, I baked this loaf on a baking stone and placed a metal mixing bowl over the loaf for the first 30 minutes. This trapped steam, which helps produce a crispy crust.

Just be sure to leave enough room to lift the bowl out of the oven for the bread to bake for the last 15 minutes by removing all of the racks above the baking stone.

This bread formula is wonderful. I'm going to be experimenting with it to try more decorative scoring.

Tips and tricks for decorative scoring:

First, use sewing thread to partition the dough for scoring. Just use the thread to "cut" the dough so that you can it to make sure you are evenly adding wheat stalks. 

Next, be sure your cuts are deep enough so that the dough opens up and shows a shiny bit of dough. 

Finally, be sure to use a smooth fabric to line your banneton so that you have a smooth bread surface to work with. 

This month the Bread Baking Babes are experimenting with decorative scoring, as instructed by Elizabeth of Blog from OUR Kitchen. She provide us with lots of links on the topic, so be sure to check out her post. One of my favorite sources is Anna of Bread Journey.

After the recipe, be sure to check out all of the Babes' posts.

Elizabeth told us we could use our favorite high hydration dough. Even if you don't want to try decorative scoring, you definitely need to try making this bread if you want an easy and delicious country bread.

Decorative Bread Scoring: First Attempt

Decorative Bread Scoring: First Attempt
Yield: 16 servings
Author: Karen Kerr
This is my first attempt and decorative bread scoring with a high hydration dough. Now that I've given it a try, I can't wait to try again and improve my technique.


  • 450 grams bread flour
  • 50 grams whole wheat flour
  • 380 grams 90 to 95 degrees F water. 
  • 10.5 grams fine sea salt
  • 4 grams instant yeast


  1. Combine the flours and the water in a large bowl or dough rising bucket. Mix with your hand until all of the flour is incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the salt and the yeast. With a wet hand, fold the dough over the salt and yeast, and then pinch the dough with your fingers. Continue to wet your mixing hand and fold the dough over itself, and continue to pinch and fold, until the salt and yeast are dissolved. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Fold the dough by picking up each "side," stretching it, and folding it over the middle. Cover again. Fold the dough again after 20 minutes. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let rise until tripled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Gently scrape the dough out onto a floured surface, and shape it into a boule by gently folding the dough over itself from all "sides." Flip the shaped dough over so that the seam side is on the counter. Using a bench scraper, draw the loaf toward you, and then away from you, to tighten up the top of the dough. Cover with a smooth towel and let rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime, dust a towel lined bowl with a 50-50 mixture of wheat and rice flour.
  5. After 10 minutes, place the bench scraper under the shaped loaf, and scoot it around from all four sides to tighten up the loaf a bit. Place the shaped dough into a smooth towel lined banneton, seam side up .
  6. Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap or a clean towel, and let rise until puffy, about an hour. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F with a baking stone placed on the middle rack.
  7. When the dough has risen, turn it out onto parchment lined plate. Sift some flour over the dough and smooth it over the dough with your hand.  Cut the dough with decorative slashes. Slide the loaf, parchment and all, onto the baking stone. Cover with a stainless bowl or hotel pan.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the lid or pan, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the bread is a deep brown and reaches an internal temperature of about 205 degrees F. Cool completely on a wire rack.
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Would you like to comment?

  1. Welcome to the club! I am so addicted to doing the razor blade thing, and yes, two key things are sprinkling the flour from a sieve and then gently massaging it all over to coat it smoothly. Cold, fridge cold bread, and a brand new razor blade. That makes it three, right? well, so there you go, I lied...

    I look forward to your adventures! your bread turned out perfect!

    1. Thank you!! There will be more attempts for sure! Thanks for the great tips!

    2. oh, I know it's nothing new, I was just re-inforcing what you already know... it's such a fun skill to play with, isn't it?

  2. Woah, that crust. Looks shatteringly crisp, just beautiful! That's a loaf we would just sit down and inhale the whole thing.

  3. I smile, I chuckle, yes I believe I'm hooked on scoring now as well. I'm looking at your loaf and thinking beautiful scoring (maybe quiet) but really gorgeous scoring. I believe you have the touch. And this recipe sounds and looks like fabulous loaves! I'm in.

  4. I must say I love the subtlety of the design without the extra flour. The crust looks like a fine damask. And the crumb is beautiful too.

    I'm so envious of the crackle and "lighter than air" as well - Bravissima!

    1. Oooh. "Damask!" I'm stealing that! Perfect!

    2. Steal away!! :-) I almost said brocade; it would work too but damask is so much more elegant sounding.

  5. how would you adjust if you wanted to make this 1/2 bread flour and 1/2 whole wheat? Thanks!

    1. I would probably up the water to about 400 grams.

  6. Beautiful loaf! I also like it without the extra flour. A loaf that is light as air ... love that!

  7. No way is there that much room in my oven! As to how much flour.... Like making frosting or concrete - use just enough liquid to make it work.

  8. Lovely bread but I can’t read your recipe because an add is taking up half the recipe! I know ads bring revenue but it kinda defeats the purpose when visitors can’t read what you wrote.

    1. I wish I could duplicate your experience. If you use the Print button, it will bring up the recipe without the ad.


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