A lame (pronounced like 'lamb') is essentially a razorblade held on a short handle. The blade is often gripped by the handle so that the cutting edge is slightly bowed.

The lame is a tool of French origin used to make slashes in bread dough. During baking, the crust of a free-form loaf is likely to burst open as the dough swells rapidly. By making cuts or slashes in the surface of the dough, the baker creates a weak fault-line that should open out and allow the loaf to expand in a controlled way. French bakers refer to the slashes, which can be highly decorative as well as functional, as grignes, and lames are sometimes called grignettes.

Want to find out more? Look at the chapter on shaping in the book flour and water.

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