How to Shape and Score Your Sourdough Bread

November 27, 2020 3 min read

How to Shape and Score Your Sourdough Bread

Nothing says the smell of home quite like freshly baked bread. The sourdough variety, with its crusty outside and soft, chewy centre makes for a characteristically tangy loaf, but do remember that presentation is just as important as flavour. With that said, let’s take a look at how to master all the shapes and scoring variations for the best bread possible.

Why Should I Shape and Score My Dough?

While it may seem purely aesthetic, scoring your dough can help with the baking process too. Shaping your dough creates a skin on the surface of the dough. This builds tension in the dough, allowing it to keep its shape and also form that notoriously crispy crust. A well-defined shape helps the dough to bake evenly, while scoring the top creates a break in the skin to let steam escape, also helping to control the expansion of the loaf.

You should shape and score your dough after the first rise.

boule sourdough shaping

Sourdough Shapes

  • Boule: One of the most popular shapes, boules are circular with domed tops
popular boule bread shape round banneton
  • Baguette: Long and thin, baguettes are tube-shaped
baguette bread
  • Baton: Similar to baguettes, batons are shorter
baton bread shape
  • Batard: Similar to a baguette, a batard loaf is shorter and fatter than a baguette
how to shape sourdough

Shaping Your Bread

Firstly, lightly dust your work surface with flour and remove your dough from its resting place for the first rise. Use flour sparingly to avoid clumps in your bread.

For boule bread, fold an edge of the dough into the centre and rotate it. Repeat the fold to the centre with a new handful of dough until the full circle is complete. Once the first circle is done, flip the dough upside down so the seam is on the table top. Using your hands, cup the dough into its boule shape. Place the dough into a round banneton proofing basket to strengthen in shape.

simple bread shaping with natural banneton

For baguettes, batons or batards, stretch your dough into a circle. The longer you want your loaf, the bigger the circle should be. Next, fold the left side to the middle, followed by the right side, slightly overlapping them. Press the fold to seal them together. This will create a long oval or tube shape. Adjust the loaf to your desired length.

Whatever type of bread you make, always allow it to rise again after shaping. A 15 inch banneton is perfect for proofing baguettes. You can use a 14 inch oval basket for batons, while batards are best proofed in a 10 - 12 inch banneton basket.

Scoring Sourdough

The best time to score your dough is right before putting it in the oven. Use a serrated knife or bread lame for the cleanest lines. A long, vertical slash is customary for a boule, baguette or batard and short horizontal slashes can be used on batards, batons and baguettes. You can be creative in your scoring, but do not over-slash the top as it could interfere with loaf expansion when baking.

With a little practice, shaping and scoring your bread will ensure all of your homemade loaves look beautifully elegant and truly professional.

right time to score sourdough

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