Bread Lame: Understanding and Using – Grow Your Pantry

Bread Lame: Understanding and Using

by Susan Grey on April 19, 2019
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In the words of the late Janet Flanner “In the history of art, there are periods when bread seems so beautiful that it nearly gets into museums.”
To create bread with dramatic and intricate patterns, all you need is a bread lame. Our current favorite one on the market is by Mure & Peyrot, sold on Amazon. They are a French manufacturer with incredibly high quality as well as offering impeccable safety functions. If you’re interested in finding out our other picks, exactly how to use a it, and much more, continue reading!
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What Is A Lame?

A lame is a double-sided blade mounted on a handle that’s used to slash the top layer of risen dough just before baking in artisan baking. This process is referred to as scoring or docking as it depicts the direction in which the dough will expand.

Why Do People Use One?

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  • Scoring allows the dough to expand evenly during baking preventing the crust from cracking open.
  • Controlling the direction in which the bread extends and how it blooms to make it more aesthetically pleasing.
  • Scoring releases the carbon dioxide trapped in the bread from the raising agent allowing the bread to maintain its original shape.
  • Increases the crust’s surface area which is the part where most of the rich flavors occur.

Why Is A Bread Lame Curved? 

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While not all lames are curved the majority of them are and for a good reason. The curve allows you to score the dough with a pronounced ear which is the raised area of the crust. To achieve this the curved blade usually forces a flap of dough to form during slicing. During the baking process, this flap usually gets pushed back and peels back to develop the ear.
A curved lame is also easier to score with as the blade sort of curves into the dough while slicing instead of pushing into as would happen with a straight blade. As a result, the slice is much smoother as the dough doesn’t get dragged along.

Designing Your Loaf

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The success of your loaf design cannot be attributed to a single process; instead, it’s the culmination of each stage that influences the final outcome. Today we will be focusing on what happens after you have prepared the dough (proofed and dusted) all the way to the point when you start baking. This stage involves scoring which requires intricate attention to details. To get a better understanding, we will break it down into the following subtopics:

Why Do Bakers Score Bread?

Bread scoring is probably the most intricate art in artisan baking. Each baker has their unique style, and each type of bread has its recommended scoring technique. However, the main aim of all this is to increase the bread’s aesthetics and to provide room for expansion during baking.

How Do Bakers Score Bread?

There’s no limit in the number of scoring techniques that a baker can use. In reality, the only limitation is the type of bread being baked and the tools available. Most bakers prefer curved lames while others would rather work with straight blade lames. In case you don’t have any of these lying around you can improvise, as long as the tool you settle on is sharp and thin enough to score on the dough. Some of the everyday kitchen utensils that you can use to score include: feather blades, kitchen scissors, and knives.

How To Create Amazing Designs

The secret to fantastic scoring designs lies in cutting deep enough to get through the skin of the dough. A network of gluten strands forms this layer during shaping. The cut should however not extend deep into the dough as it would compromise the structural integrity of the bread during baking. Keep in mind that swift and controlled movements with a lame will yield the straightest dough cuts that are also decorative.  There are 4 main scoring designs depending on the variety of bread:

Batard Double Slash

As the name suggests, this style is best recommended for the oval batard loaf. It is also highly recommended for whole wheat recipe which doesn’t spring up high when baked. It involves making two diagonal slashes using a curved blade while ensuring that the two slicing don’t overlap. This results in peeled back ears after baking, and the loaf will open up nicely without a cracked crust.

Box Top Design

This is probably the most expressive design as it allows you to play around with your creativity. Make a perimeter box slashing on the top of your dough using a square box around the edges. You can then score any design on the head ‘flat box top’ as long as they are not too deep.

Cross Design

If you are in a hurry, then this is the most straightforward design to implement when baking a circular bread. Make a straight cut from the top and a similar one crossing in the middle at 90 degrees. These curves should be deep enough, then follow up with minor slashes for each quarter edge but these should be done lightly and shouldn’t extend to the center. This allows the bread to open up beautifully while still maintaining the cross design.

Multiple Small Cuts

This design can work on any bread and can even emulate various configurations such as leaves or wheat stalks. Using a straight blade make diagonal slashes in a series all the way to the bottom, repeat the pattern 2 inches apart until your favorite design covers the entire crust.

Considerations When Buying a Bread Lame

Size - Always go for the most comfortable size so as to avoid clumsy work.
Razor Blade vs. Scalpel - If you are looking cost-effective and easy to maintain, then you should consider getting one that utilizes razor blades as they are much cheaper to replace. On the other hand, a scalpel blade will be great for long-term use but are more expensive to replace.
Materials Used - They come in various materials such as walnut wood, plastic and even stainless steel. The choice of the material should be dictated by the price which in turn dictates the quality. If you are looking for a long-term bread lame for daily use, then you should consider premium materials.
Curved vs. Straight Blade - Curved blades are recommended for their smooth action and deep slicing capabilities. On the other hand, you should consider getting one with a straight razor if you are looking to only make shallow incisions.
Protective Case - As they have extremely sharp blades and should not be stored with other utensils without a covering case. For this reason, its recommended to always consider lames that ship with appropriate cases.

Top 10 Picks of 2019 

 

1. Mure & Peyrot Bread Lame (Get Yours Here)

Brand: Mure & Peyrot
Price: $12.95
Materials: Plastic, high carbon steel
Overview:
Mure & Peyrot has been in operation since 1904 in France where they manufacture all their lames from locally sourced materials. Their bread lame incorporates a secure locking mechanism preventing accidental discharge while scoring and a matching cover for safe shipping and storage. The pinch and release feature makes it much safer to remove the blade from the handle in case you want to replace it.
What We Liked:
  • The blade’s 4 corners are all sharp and can be used to score.
  • The firm is subject to stringent European quality standards. Therefore, the quality of this lame is guaranteed.
What We Disliked:
  • The lame ships with only one blade. If it gets dull, you will have to buy a replacement.

2. 2-Piece Longuet Lame (Get Yours Here)

Brand: Mure & Peyrot
Price: $17.95
Materials: Stainless steel, plastic handle
Overview:
Mure and Peyrot are offering their latest piece of perfection the 2-piece Longuet Bread Lame. It features an ergonomically shaped handle that is not only sturdy but also easy to use regardless of whether you are left or right handed. The blades are also easy to change, and their 4 corners are usable. The firm includes a removable protective cover and 10 spare blades meaning you won’t be going back to the store for replacements any time soon.
What We Liked:
  • Includes 10 replacement Longuet blades.
What We Disliked:
  • Some customers complained about the blade holding mechanism getting weak over time as its made of plastic.

3. Serious Bakers (Get Yours Here)

Brand: Baker of Seville
Price: $18.88
Materials: Stainless steel handle, high carbon blade
Overview:
Baker of Seville focused on producing a bread lame for serious bakers one that could withstand long-term daily use. The result of this is a stainless-steel lame with secure non-slip blades that are not only easy to remove but can also be replaced with standard double-edged blades. The lame comes in a safe storage case, and the firm is offering a lifetime guarantee on the product. You also don’t have to worry about cleaning it as its dishwasher safe for all the cleaning and sanitization action that you need in a commercial kitchen.
What We Liked:
  • Non-slip design for securing the blade during extended periods of use.
  • Stainless steel handle with a sturdy grip.
What We Disliked:
  • The extra weight will take some time to get used to.

4. Saint Germain Hand Crafted Bread Lame (Get Yours Here)

Brand: Saint Germain
Price: $13.95
Materials: Hardwood, high carbon steel, leather
Overview:
The Saint Germain handcrafted bread lame is the epitome of meticulous craftsmanship. With its premium wood handle, you will never have to worry about losing grip while scoring your dough. The beautifully designed protective leather cover comes in handy when you want to store the lame after use and is also aesthetically pleasing. The firm has even gone ahead to offer a performance guarantee with a full refund in case the product falls short of what they are promising.
What We Liked:
  • Premium wood handle and leather storage pouch.
  • 6 additional blades.
What We Disliked:
  • The curve on the blade can be hard to visually and physically align while slicing.

5. Aeaker Premium Bread Lame (Get Yours Here)

Brand: Aeaker
Price: $12.95
Materials: Wood, stainless steel
Overview:
This premium bread lame features a handle made of wood for a firm grip while you score which is attached to a stainless-steel blade holder. The holder is designed to hold standard razor blades in a curved edge design. The firm also includes a case for safely keeping the lame and spare blades.
What We Liked:
  • The handle is ergonomic and long lasting.
What We Disliked:
  • The blades do lose their edge fairly quickly with around 4 uses per blade.

6. Premium Timeless Scoring Tool (Get Yours Here)

Brand: O’Delice Bakery
Price: $19.99
Materials: Food grade stainless steel, linen
Overview:
Designed by French bakers to meet their scoring needs, this premium bread lame features a stainless-steel handle with an outstanding grip capability. The firm goes ahead to include 10 replaceable blades for quick replacement. In terms of storage, the lame comes with a natural handmade linen bag that will keep the lame dry during storage.
What We Liked:
  • The minimalist design is not only aesthetically pleasing but also makes this lame easy to use.
What We Disliked:
  • Customers complained about the blades losing their edge fairly quickly

7. Breadtopia (Get Yours Here)

Brand: Breadtopia
Price: $9.95
Materials: Resin stainless steel
Overview:
This bread lame features a hard resin handle for a firm grip and a stainless-steel strip for attaching the razor. The item also ships with a safe storage box to hold both the lame and extra razors. In terms of spare blades, the firm includes 5 of them; therefore, you don’t have to worry about replacements anytime soon.
What We Liked:
  • Comes with a safe storage box and extra razors.
What We Disliked:
  • The stainless strip tends to get loose over time.
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