Many home bakers eventually encounter the issue of their bread deflating when they score it. To understand why this happens, you need to know a few important secrets of perfect bread making.
So why does bread deflate when scored? The most common reason for bread deflating after scoring is over-proofed dough. There is a lot of excess gas accumulated in an over-proofed loaf, which is all released when scored. Other reasons include the dough being overly wet and scoring the dough too deep or too shallow.
In this article, you will learn why scoring bread is important and how to do it properly. We’ll go into detail about why bread deflates when scored and how to prevent it from happening. So read on for perfectly fluffy bread!
Why Scoring Is Important?
Scoring might seem an unimportant step if you are new to baking bread. But bakers don’t score the bread just to make it look beautiful when it’s done.
Scoring is a technique that you will have to master over time. Even if you have proofed the dough properly, scoring it wrong will cause the dough to collapse when you put it in the oven to bake.
So what is scoring? Scoring is cutting the surface of the dough after the final rise and before putting the dough in the oven.
A slash on the surface of the dough helps to avoid cracks in the bread, which occur as a result of the dough expanding in the oven.
The hot air causes the loaf to expand even more. And if you haven’t scored the bread, the tension will cause the dough to rise and crack.
If the unscored bread doesn’t crack, then it will most likely bake into an oddly-shaped bread. Here’s why. When you shape the dough before putting it on the baking tray, you create lots of pressure holding the gas inside.
When exposed to the heat of the oven, the pressure locked inside the dough looks for ways to come out. This results in the dough developing into awkward-shaped loaves.
How Do You Score Bread Properly?
Scoring may not be an easy technique to master, especially if you are trying to get beautiful design patterns on the bread. Here are the basic rules to follow to help you score your bread to perfection.
1. Choose the Right Tool
There are different tools you can use to score bread. However, there is one thing they should all have in common – sharpness. Trying to score the dough with a blunt tool won’t do the trick.
Professional bakers use a scoring tool called a lame. This useful tool features a double-sided blade attached to a handle for convenient use. You can also use a regular razor blade, scissors, or a sharp knife.
To make scoring easier, we recommend wetting or oiling the blade. This trick is particularly helpful when you are working with dough that is too sticky or wet.
2. Watch Your Movements
One of the primary rules to a perfect bread-scoring technique is doing it with confidence. Make a swift movement and don’t stop halfway. The faster you make the strokes, the cleaner they will come out.
When making the cut, don’t simply move your wrist. Instead, move your arm for a consistent cut across the surface of the bread. Hold the scoring tool at an angle of 30-45 degrees.
3. Don’t Apply Too Much Pressure
Don’t apply too much pressure on the dough. If the tool you are using is sharp, there is no need to press down on the loaf. Make a swift and confident movement and the blade will do the job.
4. Choose the Right Pattern
If you are new to bread baking and scoring, we highly recommend looking into different scoring patterns for different types of bread.
For starters, the hashtag symbol scoring pattern is the safest option with breads that have a round shape. For breads that have a long, baguette-like shape, a few diagonal cuts would be perfect.
An oblong shape bread needs either a few diagonal cuts or one long cut across the length of the bread.
Once you master a few simple bread scoring techniques, you can proceed to learn how to make cuts on the loaf so that they create a beautiful pattern when the bread is baked.
Why Does Bread Deflate After Scoring?
Many bakers encounter the issue of the bread deflating once they score it. Collapsing of the bread after scoring it may make you skip this step in your further baking attempts.
While doing this will result in properly baked bread, it will certainly not look very good.
If your bread collapses after you score it, it is because you have over-proofed it. Overproofing the dough is the most common mistake new bakers make.
As you may know, proofing is the final rise of the dough. When you proof the dough, the yeast starts to ferment. During the fermentation process, gas is released and the dough expands.
If you proof the dough for too long, excessive gas is collected in the dough. Overproofing the dough also causes the gluten structure of the dough to weaken.
When you score overproofed dough, the excessive carbon dioxide gas collected in it causes it to collapse.
Another reason why your bread may collapse after scoring it is because it is too wet. Wet doughs don’t hold their structure well. When you score them, they quickly expand all over the baking tray.
How Do I Keep My Bread from Collapsing?
Here are a few things to keep in mind to prevent the bread from collapsing when you score it.
- Don’t over–proof the dough. If you are a beginner at bread baking, there is a simple trick to find out if your bread is over-proofed. Press on the dough with your finger for two seconds. If the dough doesn’t spring back, it is overproofed.
- Fix your over-proofed dough. If you find your dough has been over-proofed, don’t go ahead and bake it hoping for the best anyway. Instead, press it down to release the excess gas collected in it, shape it once again, and let it proof. The second try will let you proof the dough just right. And in case you were wondering, yes, it’s perfectly fine to let dough rise more than twice.
- Don’t score a wet dough. If your dough has turned out too wet, don’t score it. Dust a little more flour on it when kneading it. This will make the dough firmer and you can score it without causing the bread to deflate.
- Score the dough properly. Score it neither too deep nor too shallow. Shallow cuts should be around 1/8 inch deep. Deeper cuts, on the other hand, should go about ½ inch into the dough.
If you don’t score the bread deep enough, scoring simply won’t do its job. The bread will crack as a result of pressure. Similarly, if you make cuts that are too deep, the loaf will open up and flatten as you score it.
Other Reasons for Bread Collapsing
Aside from scoring the dough when it is overproofed or wet, there are a few other reasons that can make the bread collapse. Here are three of the most popular mistakes that can cause the dough to deflate.
Firstly, the bread may collapse if the temperature of the oven is too low. As you may know, a warm environment is perfect for proofing the dough.
So, if the temperature in your oven is warm and not hot enough for the bread to bake, it will rise to its full capacity and then collapse.
Secondly, you may have added too much liquid or too little flour. The bread may collapse if it is too wet. Try adding a tablespoon of flour at a time until the bread reaches your desired consistency.
Alternatively, remember to use a few tablespoons less water or milk next time you make bread using the same recipe.
Lastly, you may have used too much yeast. If you use more yeast than needed, the dough will rise so much as to eventually collapse.
If you think that adding more yeast to the dough will make it rise better, you are mistaken. Follow the recipe and use as much yeast as the instructions tell you to do.
Does All Bread Need to Be Scored?
You don’t need to score all bread. Whether you should score the bread after proofing it depends on how wet the dough is. If the hydration level of the dough is higher than 85%, it shouldn’t be scored.
Not only is it difficult to score an overly soft and wet dough, but it is also pointless and will ruin your bread. As we have mentioned earlier in this article, scoring dough that is wet results in it collapsing.
Avoid scoring bread varieties where the dough is supposed to have a high hydration level. Additionally, you don’t need to score the bread if you will be baking at a temperature lower than 375°F.
So, breads that need to be scored before baking are the ones with a relatively lower hydration level and that are baked at higher temperatures.
How Do You Know When Your Dough Is Ready to Bake?
Generally, you will be able to tell when your dough is ready to bake and hasn’t been over or under-proofed by using the poke test.
All you have to do is poke the dough and keep your finger there for 2 seconds. If it springs back quickly when you remove your finger, your dough is ready to bake. If it stays indented, it may be under or over-proofed.
For a few more tips on how to tell if your dough is ready, we’ve found this short, helpful guide from the Bake With Jack channel on YouTube.
Let us know how your next try turns out!