Before bread goes into the oven it is scored or “cut”. This allows the excess gas to escape during the bake and prevent the crust rupturing. A bakers lame, also known as a “grignette” is used to make the cuts.
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What is a lame?
A lame or grignette is used to score bread before baking. Made with a thin scalpel “razor blade” it is lightweight and less likely to drag on the breads surface.
For intricate scoring, a lame is an essential tool for bakers.
What is the best lame for baking bread?
There are four types of lames available to bakers. I am an affiliate seller so really I should be inclined to present the most expensive one as the best but no! I find the lightweight design of the Bordelaise Grignette by far the best. It’s the easiest to hold, hard to lose (yes, that can be a problem!) and I can make the cuts I want with ease.
If you’ve never used a lame before, it’s like holding a pen. A nice ergonomic, simple design is often better to use than a big clunky big that looks nice and shiny. To learn how to use one, visit the how to score bread page.
Here are four types of lames available:
UFO Round Bakers Lame
A lot of home bakers are using this style at the moment. These “on trend” cutters are popular when creating pretty bread designs with accuracy. I find them uncomfortable to use quickly but if scoring a masterpiece is your aim they are the best solution.
Bordelaise Grignette From Mure and Peyrot
Cheap, simple and lightweight. Mure and Peyrot make the industry standard in bakers lames and this is the style I prefer.
Wooden Handle Lame
This chunky lame that makes you look and feel you’re “the business”. But they are not just for Instagram, this one is durable and will most likely last a lifetime.
If you want the perfect curved crescent cuts on your baguettes you have to use a curved blade like this one from the Mure & Peyrot. The curve creates the classic almond-shaped slash found on baguettes and other French bread. Some beginners find this style of blade a little tricky to master.
What’s the difference between a lame and a grignette?
A lame (pronounced “LAHM”) means “blade” in French where the grignette is technically the handle. The use of Lame and Grignette are often used interchangeably for “the thing you use to cut the bread!”
Where can I get a bakers lame?
It depends on which type of lame you are looking for. If you’re looking for the crafty ones with the thick wooden handles you’ll find Etsy has several handcrafted pieces. If you’re looking for the standard lightweight lames that I prefer, try Amazon.
Where can I get blades from a bakers lame?
Unless you’re in France you’ll be lucky to find a physical store that sells bakers lames. They are normally purchased online from national baking suppliers or Amazon. Here’s a link to the ones I use:
How many times can I use the same blade on my lame?
The lame’s blade has to be sharp for a crisp cut. The more it is used, the quicker it will become blunt. If using a rectangle-shaped blade, you are able to use both sides and then reverse it to use the other. This helps to extend the life of lame.
How often should I change the blade on a bakers lame?
A blade is at its best within the first 20 cuts. After this, it will deteriorate until it needs changing after around 40. If the blade is reversible the life can be doubled. For intricate designs, the blade should be kept changed earlier.
Can you sharpen a bakers lame?
No, it is not possible to sharpen a razor blade style bakers lame. To do this you would need specialist equipment.
How to change a blade on a lame
I can't get a bakers lame, what can I use instead?
If you can’t get a bakers lame (or need one now!) a serrated knife will work for simple cuts. A thin serrated knife is preferred, but a standard bread knife is usually fine for a simple straight cut. I use one from time to time!
Can I make my own Lame?
It is possible to make your own curved device for slashing the bread. It isn’t something I’m going to suggest, but for those of you interested here’s a video (as it contains knives it's restricted but don't worry it's not spam!).