You may have seen images of loaves online, scored with beautiful patterns that have burst into life upon baking. And now you’d like to do the same on your next loaf!

If so, read on for my top tips on how to score a pattern into your bread before you bake it.

Why score a pattern into your bread?

There are a few reasons for scoring a pattern into your dough before it’s baked.

When it was more common to bake bread in a communal oven, scoring a pattern allowed bakers to personalise their loaves and identify them once baked.

Scoring is still a way to add your mark to a loaf. You could score anything from a portrait to an intricate motif, or just some simple lines. Whatever you choose, it will certainly have an impact on your final loaf!

During baking, your dough will do one final rise in the oven as the gas inside the loaf expands in the heat. Scoring will help guide how and where your loaf rises in a controlled way. Without scoring, the loaf could split randomly.

What to use to score your loaf

Traditionally bakers use a grignette, also known as a lame, to score their loaves. These are essentially a very sharp razor blade with a handle.

The Epsom Bakehouse how to score a pattern into your bread before you bake it bakers grignette lame
A baker’s grignette, or lame

However, if you don’t want to get new equipment, you can also use a serrated bread knife.

How to score your pattern into your bread

Scoring should be the last thing you do before you put your well-risen dough into the oven to bake.

Don’t score before the dough rises for a second time as you’ll lose the definition of the pattern and your dough may not rise well.

You may wish to dust the top of your loaf with flour before you score. This is purely to create some contrast between the scored pattern, which will darken in the oven, and the lighter flour.

If you’re scoring your dough for the first time, I suggest you start with a very simple pattern such a few diagonal lines. For anything more complex, you might want to sketch it out first!

To score, hold the knife or grignette as a shallow angle against the dough. Draw back but DO NOT (I repeat DO NOT!) press down at all. If you press down as you score, you will deflate the dough and flatten your final loaf.

The score you make should be deep enough so that the dough opens up. So you might need to repeat the scoring one or two times.

Once you’ve scored your loaf, bake it straight away. You can read more on how to get a great bake on your loaf here.

If you’d like to see how I score a loaf, you can in the following video.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog, or have any further breadmaking questions, do let me know in the comments! Or why not check out more breadmaking recipes, hints and tips on the blog.

You can also join my supportive community of home bread bakers over on Facebook. From sharing great bakes and recipes to asking and answering key breadmaking questions, there’s plenty to learn and join in with.