Bread Scoring Is the Key to Making the Prettiest Homemade Bread Ever

Learn the art of bread scoring. We explain how and why to score, and show plenty of inspiration.

Scrolling through your Instagram feed and wondering why other people’s sourdough loaves look so darn stunning? It’s not a filter, but an easy, gotta-try technique called bread scoring. Here’s a quick guide to the how’s and why’s of bread scoring, with plenty of beautiful inspiration to try in your own kitchen.

What Is Bread Scoring?

Bread scoring is the practice of slashing the surface of bread dough immediately before baking. Why? As bread bakes, it rises quickly and dramatically (bakers call this “oven spring”). The yeast is releasing carbon dioxide, and the water in the bread is rapidly evaporating. Robust oven spring is a good sign that you’ve got an open, airy crumb.

Scoring the bread lets bakers “guide” the oven spring, optimizing the rise and shape of the baked loaf. Scoring bread can be as simple as making a quick slice down the middle of a loaf, but advanced bakers often seize the opportunity to treat bread scoring as a way to decorate the blank slate of dough.

Are you kneading your bread the right way?

Easy, Beautiful Scoring Techniques

Ready to pop your homemade sourdough bread into the oven? Try these beginner’s scoring techniques from talented Instagrammers.

A simple slash down the middle creates an appealing, rustic loaf. Use a sharp knife and cut not-too-deep into the bread, at an angle. Make a smooth, confident cut.

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A post shared by E L I S E (@breadbyelise) on

A few curved slashes open into a leaf-like pattern.

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A post shared by ille brød (@illebrod) on


Many small dashes result in a design that looks like grains of wheat.

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A post shared by The Bread Bakers Guild (@breadbakersguild) on

Slashing a box shape gives the bread a dimensional rise, like a hat.

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A post shared by The Perfect Loaf (@maurizio) on


Psst: you can use scoring techniques on a yeasted bread like this crusty homemade loaf, as well as sourdough breads.

Advanced Scoring Techniques

Instagram is an amazing resource for bread art. These bakers use complex scoring techniques to create breads almost too pretty too eat.

Sarah Owens’s botanical designs show off her flavored loaves.

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A post shared by Sarah Owens (@sarah_c_owens) on


A pattern radiating from the center of a loaf has a cool web-like effect.

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A post shared by Natalija Flour_and_Water (@flour_and_water) on


A pattern of leaves and vines can go as intricate as you like.

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A post shared by Blondie + Rye (Hannah P.) (@blondieandrye) on


Dusting the bread with flour before making your cuts results in a gorgeous, stenciled look on the finished loaf.

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A post shared by Lisa (@sourdough_nouveau) on


And, of course, some bakers go all out and etch elaborate, portrait-worthy designs into their loaves.

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A post shared by Anita Šumer – Sourdough ❤️ (@sourdough_mania) on


Next time you bake a homemade loaf, give bread scoring a try. Even a few simple cuts can yield a loaf that’s a cut above the rest.

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Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.