MY LIFE - My new lame

MY LIFE - My new lame

A few days ago while browsing through Facebook postings on my iPad, I happened upon a photo of two stunning loaves of bread fresh from my niece Sarah’s oven. What struck me, however, was how beautifully scored they were, filling me with immediate score envy.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even aware that “scoring” was the proper term for those slashes often seen across the tops of some breads like baguettes or artisan loaves. What I did know, though, was that their purpose was to allow the loaves to maintain their shape during baking by providing a designated place for the bread to expand instead of risking having it blow out in random areas on the loaf. I had read all about it in my “Artisan Bread in 5-Minutes A Day” cookbook, so I knew to do it, but if they mentioned the word “score,” I must have missed it.

As it turns out, I am sadly unschooled in the fine art of scoring (I just read a scoring tutorial online earlier this morning), and while my breads may have looked nice to the untrained eye, their appearance left much to be desired. Sarah’s, on the other hand, were sheer perfection, so I messaged her, complimenting her on their beauty and asking for her secret.

After a lot of back and forth among Sarah, my niece Kelly (also an amazing bread maker who just happened to be online at the same time) and myself, it emerged that Sarah’s were sourdough breads with much firmer dough than the wetter artisan recipe I have been using, and therefore able to more easily hold their shape. However, that wasn’t really what I was asking.

“Yes,” I persisted, “but how are you getting those nice deep, precise cuts?”

The answer: She uses a lame!

A lame (pronounced “l-ah-m,” I believe) is a handled instrument with a double-edged razor blade snapped onto its end. Its purpose in baking is to sharply slash or score things.

When I confessed to slashing with my bread knife, which is literally the sharpest knife in the drawer so to speak, Kelly replied without even missing a beat, “I just sent you a lame.” Through the wonders of Amazon and Kelly’s incredibly speedy and most generous fingers, a lame of my own was now winging my way. Amazing!

The small package arrived on Wednesday and a batch of artisan bread dough was in the oven on Thursday. It looked better than previous attempts, but not quite there yet.

Since I happen to have nothing but time on my hands today and tomorrow and I am tired of knitting, I think I will grab the apron off the hook in the pantry and have another go or two...or even it, changing recipes as necessary until the results look more like Sarah’s, which I have included here with the column.

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.

Breads baked by Rhea’s niece, Sarah Denis, were scored with a tool called a lame.