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Bread Lames for Baguettes

Published September 2014

How we tested

Bread bakers score shaped loaves before putting them in the oven to ensure that the bread expands fully and in the right direction during baking. Professional bakers use a tool called a lame (pronounced “LAHM”), which means “blade” in French. Lames can have straight or curved blades. Straight blades are best when approaching the dough head-on to make perpendicular slashes, like the X often used for rustic boules. For these types of slashes, you can get fine results by simply using a serrated knife or razor blade. To produce the classic almond-shaped slashes that baguettes are known for, a curved-blade lame is the traditional choice. It approaches the dough at a lower angle to create a cut with a flap instead of a simple slash. In the oven, this type of slash expands into an almond shape while the flap peels back to become a crispy ridge or “ear” that adds both flavor and texture.

We tested four different curved lames (priced from $9.50 to $16.99), as well as two common substitutes—a small serrated blade (also known as a tomato knife) and a box cutter—to find out if you really need to invest in a lame to get a properly scored baguette. As we scored, it became clear: A knife or a box cutter is acceptable, but lames are better. Overall, lames were easier to hold and thus control, and they slid through the dough more cleanly.

The lames we tried were all equally sharp. We docked points from the only model with a fixed blade since once it dulls, you have to buy a whole new lame. The other lames could be refitted with cheap double-edged straight blades from the drugstore as needed. We considered how easy it was to change the blade on each model, downgrading one whose blade was difficult to secure in place. We also evaluated handles; the better the handle, the more clean and even the slashes. Our winning model has a sharp blade that’s easy to replace and its handle was easy to grasp; though the handle was a bit long, we simply choked up for good control. It also came with five extra blades.

The Results

Key:
Good
Fair
Poor
Winner
Highly Recommended

Breadtopia Bread Lame

Buy For $10
Purchased for $9.50 at time of testing

Breadtopia Bread Lame

This lame was sharp and came with five extra blades that were a snap to change. Its cute baguette-shaped handle was easy to grasp, and though it seemed longer than necessary, we simply choked up a bit for good control while we scored the loaves. We did miss having a blade cover.

Handle
Scoring
Blade Change
Purchased for $9.50 at time of testing
Recommended

Mure & Peyrot Boulange Bread Scoring Lame

Buy For $13
Purchased for $16.99 at time of testing

Mure & Peyrot Boulange Bread Scoring Lame

This lame’s handle was the most secure and comfortable one we tested, thanks to a flat design and a smart ergonomic curve that readily fit hands of all sizes. The plastic piece at the center where the blade attached prevented us from scoring the loaves as deep as we wanted. It came with a blade cover and blades that are cheap, easy to change, and widely available.

More Details
Handle
Scoring
Blade Change
Purchased for $16.99 at time of testing
Recommended with Reservations

Matfer Bakers’ Blade

$12.75

Matfer Bakers’ Blade

This lame was sharp and had a comfortable handle with a nice thumb rest for excellent control; it also included a blade cover. It was the only fixed blade we tested, and unfortunately, when it dulls, you have to throw the whole thing out—a waste at nearly $13 a pop.

More Details
Handle
Scoring
Blade Change
$12.75
Not Recommended

Mure & Peyrot Bordelaise Bread Scoring Lame

$16.99

Mure & Peyrot Bordelaise Bread Scoring Lame

This lame was sharp, with a decent handle, and it had a handy blade cover, but its blades were really difficult to change. It was the only lame in the lineup that you can bend back and forth to curve the blade for baguettes and straighten for scoring round loaves, but after only a few adjustments, there were already stress marks on the plastic casing.

More Details
Handle
Scoring
Blade Change
$16.99