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I freely admit this belongs in the category of obsession, but there is a specific look I always want to achieve for my baguettes and sometimes I get it, but I have a hard time reproducing it.

Here is an example of what I'm looking to achieve:

After baking

Here's the scoring before baking:

Before baking

Here's an example of somewhat disappointing results:

enter image description here

and the scoring pattern before baking:

enter image description here

These batches were the same weight each and same recipe. Comparing them, I can't see much difference in the scoring pattern before baking, but the resulting looks are quite different - in the top ones the "burst" open portion takes up most of the top surface of the baguettes, while in the bottom ones the pattern is mainly isolated to the middle portion of the top surface and not as pronounced.

One difference I do see is that the top ones are smaller before baking, possibly because I didn't proof them as long (unfortunately I didn't record the proofing time for these; this is always a variable because of room temperature, etc.). But I have tried shorter proofing times in general and find them to only result in smaller baguettes overall.

Any specific suggestions or tips for how to achieve the pattern in the top batch after baking?

Edit - New batch Sunday testing my theory that less proofing time could lead to better bursting:

enter image description here enter image description here

I messed up the first score on the bottom one but I think this is the right track as proofing time is really the only variable in all three batches. I could also tell as soon as I scored that the seams started to open up on its own which I take as a good sign.

Next time I will proof for even less time. I know the guidance is to wait until an indentation springs back slowly but just thinking logically here, as long as the baking environment is nice and steamy I'm speculating that to achieve the best "burst" a high amount of gas pressure before scoring and baking is more important than maximizing the pre-bake rise.

Any further tips/comments appreciated!

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    Your scoring and results look pretty impressive already! I hope you achieve the perfection you're looking for.
    – Luciano
    Feb 28, 2023 at 8:15

2 Answers 2

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This is not a matter of scoring, but a matter of crust management. The difference between your two pictures is that the dough in the first (desirable) batch has managed to spread more before the crust hardened.

For consistent results, you will have to be more consistent in everything that contributes to a crust. This is annoyingly difficult, because it involves pretty much everything about bread baking - proofing stage when it goes into the oven, actual oven temperature during the first minutes of baking (which is not the number shown on the dial), humidity inside the oven, and surface tension of the raw loaf are the most important variables that come to mind. The good news is that you have the capability to achieve the right combination, you just have to be even more obsessive about finding out what you did, and repeating it :)

We have older, well-voted questions with some additional detail, especially How to achieve great baguette crusts, and Bread doesn't split at the score. There is also What effect do different slash patterns have on bread oven spring?, although not as relevant as the first two.

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  • Thanks those are helpful! I definitely agree oven spring is the key, but I might not have made clear that they always reach roughly the same overall size, which suggests to me that they're maxing out their potential rise just fine prior to hardening. What I'm wondering is if it's the proportion of rise that occurs in the oven vs. outside the oven that matters most here. In other words to maximize the "burst" should I proof them less (which it appears I did in the top batch) but perhaps bulk ferment longer, so there's more gas pressure built up prior to hitting the heat? Feb 25, 2023 at 19:26
  • @PeterMoore I wish I knew the answer to this specific part, but I admit I don't :( hopefully somebody else will contribute it in their own answer.
    – rumtscho
    Feb 27, 2023 at 13:30
  • No worries @rumtscho! Like you say, experimentation is the key. Edited above with results from yesterday. I think I'm on the right track. Cheers. Feb 27, 2023 at 14:19
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Figured I would quickly follow up on this - rumtscho's answer is definitely great, but in my specific case, the key factor turned out to be proofing time. More proofing (90+ minutes) still resulted in nice large loaves but without the extremely pronounced pattern. Less proofing (<60 minutes at 68F) resulted in the split I was looking for. Indentations sprang back within a few seconds.

It's a delicate balance though! I need enough gas to build up in the proofing loaves to cause nice expansion, but not so much that the loaves have already expanded too close to their maximum potential.

Marching ever onward toward unattainable perfection. :)

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