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My neighbor shared her delicious french bread recipe with me. Her loaves always turn out tall and fluffy. My loaves fall when I score them and the result is flat, saggy crisp crust bread.

Things I have tried - keeping my bowl warm, letting it rise a third time after scoring (it's never the same).

She even came over with her uncooked loaves when mine flattened right before a dinner party. Guess what? Hers sagged and flattened and never rose in my oven. Could it be my oven???

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How exactly do you score your loaves? Do you use a lot of pressure? A proofed loaf should not fall when scored... –  Mien Nov 16 '13 at 0:01
    
Are you using a very sharp knife for the scoring? Some bakers use razor or scalpel blades. –  Jolenealaska Nov 16 '13 at 0:18
    
I use a knife...that is dull! That's why it's falling. I noticed this past month that my favorite knife is acting up. It must be dull. I hadn't considered that the dull knife would ruin the loaf. But you nailed it. PS I always proof my yeast-- after one disaster that cost me 7 cups of flour (learned my lesson the hard way). –  ALC Nov 16 '13 at 2:37
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2 Answers 2

If bread falls after you score it, it's because the bread is overproofed. Basically, the bubbles of carbon dioxide have reached the largest size that the structure of the dough can support and the stress of scoring causes it to collapse. They key is to either score it earlier and let it continue rising a bit, or to score & bake it earlier (this works great if you have a very hot oven and can find a way to get some steam into it).

If your neighbor came over with bread and it flattened in your oven, it's possible that hers also overproofed in the time it took to transport it (or the extra jostling of transportation caused them to fall).

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The only way I can see it being your oven is if the temperature is way off. Test it with an oven thermometer. Be sure to test different areas of the oven. Some ovens will indicate that they are fully pre-heated long before they actually are. Use your thermometer to test that too. Be sure that you are putting your loaves in to bake at the proper temperature. Some people use a pizza stone to even out the oven's temperature, on a rack either at the top or bottom of the oven, depending on whether your oven is gas or electric.

The scoring should be very shallow, done with a quick motion and with a very sharp blade. Try using a new razor blade.

Oh, and this is overly obvious, but have you proofed your yeast? What to do about yeast that doesn't work?

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The pizza stone is a good idea. Some home ovens also lose up to 50 degrees when they're loaded, and a pizza stone helps to even that out. –  sourd'oh Nov 16 '13 at 15:23
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