Best Bread Knife for Your Slicing Needs
Bread knives play a special role in your kitchen knife set. Many knife sets come with kitchen shears, a chef's knife, a paring knife, a slicing knife and a serrated bread knife. Of all the kitchen knives, the bread knife is probably the most underutilized kitchen tool. This guide will show you how to use a bread knife, how to sharpen a bread knife, how to slice bread and how to pick the best bread knife for your slicing needs.
A bread knife's uses aren't just limited to cutting loaves. It can also be used to cut cakes or any delicate baked good. The knife's long serrated blade works best on food that is hard on the outside and soft on the inside like bread.
The common blade length of a bread knife is 8 inches, but blades are also available up to 10 inches long.
A serrated kitchen knife features a scalloped or toothlike edge. It works just like a saw. The teeth of the blade catch and then rip as the knife smoothly slides through the food. The tips of the blades pierce the skin of the food and the gullets, the space between the tips, help reduce friction as the blade saws back and forth. Many steak knives and electric knives feature a serrated edge. Serrated knife uses depend on the type of serration on the knife.
There are different types of serrations on bread knives: scalloped, large teeth serrations and small teeth serrations. The type of serration will determine the best bread knife uses.
- Scalloped serrations look like clouds instead of teeth. This type of blade cuts through a cake and very soft breads with ease but is of little use in cutting through crusts.
- Large serrations are the best bread knife to cut tough crusts with ease. However, these leave behind more crumbs and are not good for cutting cakes.
- Small serrations are the best bread knife to combine the gentleness of scalloped serrations with the effectiveness of large teeth serrations. This makes it a good bread knife for slicing a ripe tomato and many other things.
- The best bread knife set will have a few options of serrated edges for multiple use.
Bread knife uses go beyond the bread box. You can use a bread knife to cut a variety of other foods:
- Tomatoes or vegetables with a tough skin and soft interior
- Whole citrus fruits
- Pineapples and melons
- Hard processed meats, like salami
- Blade shape and length: Most bread knives are 8 to 11 inches long with a curved or straight blade; purchase one that is longer than a typical loaf of bread is wide. A curved blade gives you better clearance, so you don’t rap your knuckles on the cutting board.
- Serrations: A blade with fewer, broader and deeper pointed serrations will cut better. The gullet’s size determines how smoothly the knife will glide while cutting. The bigger the gullet, the easier the blade moves.
- Ergonomic design: Some serrated knife blades are positioned lower than the handle, some are above. Hold the knife to get a sense of how the blade feels in your hand. The best bread knife should have a comfortable grip that feels secure.
- Maintenance: Although you can sharpen a serrated blade, it takes bit of patience. To reduce the need to sharpen, choose a knife that's made from high-carbon steel, which holds a razor-sharp edge longest. Note: High-carbon steel is not dishwasher safe.
- Blade material: Most bread knives are made from ceramic, carbon stainless steel, high-carbon steel oir stainless steel. Ceramic knives are harder than stainless steel, which means they keep a sharper edge longer, but they are brittle and prone to chipping.
- Blade width: Narrower blades make for a better serrated knife.
- Flexibility: A flexible blade is more adaptable to different types of breads, cakes and other soft foods.
Even though serrated bread knives hold their edges a lot longer than a chef's knife, after some time it will need to be sharpened. However, you cannot use a regular knife sharpener or honing steel to sharpen a bread knife.
Instead, you will need to use a specialized sharpening stone that resembles a mini pick or honing steel. They come in various sizes to sharpen a serrated knife with matching serration sizes.
- Select the size of sharpening stone for your knife's serrations.
- Lay the sharpening tool against the bevel in the serration.
- Be sure to maintain the angle of the bevel. Work it back and forth.
- Continue until you feel a burr on the other side over the whole edge.
- Turn the blade over and remove the burr from the edge.
- Work one serration at a time.
Slicing bread may seem straightforward, but there some techniques to keep in mind. Skip the bread slicer and grab your new bread knife. Follow these easy steps for how to slice bread:
- Place your bread onto a non-slip cutting board.
- Use very little downward pressure. Too much pressure on the knife will squash the bread instead of slicing it. Instead, saw lightly back and forth.
- When you get half-way through your loaf, apply a little bit of pressure to get you to the bottom crust.
- If it's a thick crust, then feel free to apply more pressure at this point to saw the rest of the way through.
The Home Depot carries many types of bread knives from top brands and the tools you need to keep them in shape.