Ear Scoring Tutorial

Ready to make your loaves grin from ear to ear for international smile day?

HOW TO GET THE PERFECT EAR DESIGN [Anita’s Fermented Tips & Tricks]

Dear Sourdoughmaniacs,

We’ve all seen it proudly gracing the Instagram feeds of many an established, seasoned, and well-fermented baker – the (in)famous open “ear” design. Although every loaf made with love and care is a beautiful loaf in my book – regardless of design – the ear scoring pattern has become a sourdough staple. It is almost a badge of honor, because getting it right can be a little bit tricky.

But you know me, I love dispelling the myths and fears related to sourdough baking. And whenever anyone mentions scoring patterns, I’m always all ears. That’s why I am tackling this design head on today and teaching you my best Fermented Tips & Tricks for getting it right.

If you are ready, prick up your ears and swipe to get starte(r)d. 

EAR SCORING TIP #1: Shape Matters

The shape of your bread determines how your bread will rise and open up while baking. 

It’s easier to get a nice ear design on a loaf/batard than any other shape of bread, because of the way the tension of the dough is built up during the shaping process. 

EAR SCORING TIP #2: Scoring Tools 

For the best result you’ll need a bread lame or a fresh razorblade. In order for the ear to form properly you need an even, clean cut along the side of the loaf and this is harder to do with a knife or any other tool.

EAR SCORING TIP #3: Angle & Depth

Score the side of your loaf from top to bottom. Hold your blade at a 45° angle and make sure the cut is around 1 cm or approximately 1/3 of an inch deep.

EAR SCORING TIP #4: Proofing & Fermentation

A slightly under-proofed bread, or a bread that has undergone a shorter fermentation period will have a greater oven spring, resulting in a more open ear. 

EAR SCORING TIP #5: Full Steam Ahead

Steam is essential for proper crust formation. To get the best crunchy crust, and a wonderful open ear, bake your bread with steam for the first 15-20 minutes (in a dutch oven, an oven safe pot with a lid, or with a water tray). Finish baking your loaf without steam for an additional 15-20 minutes or until perfectly caramelized.

Let me know in the comments below if this post was helpful to you and don’t forget to tag me in your stories if you try it out – your sourdough successes are music to my ears and I never turn a deaf ear to a fellow baker’s struggle. 

So let’s stay in touch and bake the world a better place together!

Yours truly fermented,


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