The best way to slice your homemade bread as thinly as possible is by using the right blade, and that happens to be the serrated knife.
No other knife will do this job, that’s why this is one of the four basic blades that are indispensable in the kitchen.
Baking your bread at home is a must-have skill.
Because of the quarantine, many have started learning how to do this.
Some prefer tearing their fresh-off-the-oven loaves with their bare hands.
There’s nothing wrong with that, to be honest. And it gives you a rustic dinner feel too.
But sliced loaves are still good to have, even if it’s hard to do that.
Important features of a good serrated knife
Saw-like Teeth or Serrations
Go for those with large scallops, waves, or serrations. These can cut through tough exteriors and won’t crumble those tender, airy interiors.
This should be at least 8 inches long so that it slices a big part of the loaf at once. Repeated see-saw movements will cause the crumb to disintegrate badly.
This is a must because pointed tips could unnecessarily puncture the bread.
You want this so it won’t ruin the crumb as the sharp, serrated side moves down the loaf.
The spine is also often used as a spatula when decorating cakes with icing.
The serrations should be on one side only. The other side should be straight-edged for easier re-sharpening.
Buying a high-quality knife is a must too. Cheaper ones tend to be floppy, giving you uneven slices. Here are some of the best brands, all under $50, in the market today:
- Mercer Culinary Millennia 10-inch
- Victorinox Swiss Army 10.25-inch
- Shun Classic 9-Inch
- Global Sai at Williams Sonoma 9-inch
- Dalstrong 9-Inch
- Mac Knife Superior 10.5-inch
Aside from using the right tool, you must be aware of the right slicing technique. Here are some of those:
1. Cool Your Bread Well
Letting your loaf rest at room temperature for at least twenty minutes is a must-have for several reasons:
Cutting through a fresh-off-the-oven loaf is a no-no.
The cooking process is still happening, with the water molecules in the crumb moving towards the crust, creating those beautiful air pockets in the former and making the latter hard and crusty.
If you aren’t patient enough and you cut the loaf immediately, the steam will escape into the air fast. In less than a minute, the bread will be soggy and gummy.
On your second attempt, even the sharpest serrated knife will find it hard to slice something that is nearly like clay.
2. Gently Hold the Loaf Down
One big mistake most people make is gripping the bread and pushing it down the board. This is usually the reason why the loaf, especially airy and creamy types, tend to get flattened.
As you would with any other food items that you’re cutting, use your knuckles as your guide for the thickness of the slice.
Try Turning It on its Side
Instead of cutting it from the top, try laying it on its side, because that part is more solid and won’t get squashed easily. This is especially true for brioche and milky white loaves.
3. Use the See-saw Slicing Motion
Moving the knife through the bread in this motion will prevent too much crumbling. You will find this easier with soft, delicate types of bread.
You might still see some specks falling off onto your board and that’s fine.
If you don’t want the waste, save those in a container and use it for frying or topping in other baked dishes.
4. Let the Knife Do Its Job
Don’t push the knife down like you would with a hard vegetable. Just do the see-saw slicing motion, as noted above, and let the knife do its job.
If it is sharpened and well-honed, it will go through the bread easily – even hard, crusty ones.
5. The Thinnest Slice to Realistically Aim for is Half an Inch
You won’t be getting a straight slice if you insist on something thinner.
You will also be wasting a whole lot because there will be more crumbling.
And if you did succeed slicing something so thin, that would not be a good enough thickness for sandwiches.
Anything less than half an inch won’t properly hold the contents of your sandwich.
Although it takes a whole lot of effort on your part and is, admittedly, time-consuming, nothing beats making your poolish or preferment starter from scratch, kneading your dough, and letting the aroma of a baking loaf or rolls waft throughout your home.
If you have been practicing all those in recent months, it’s also high time that you learn how to properly slice your loaves – whether that’s a crusty sourdough or a soft and creamy brioche loaf.
Just grab a good serrated bread knife, follow the tips provided above, and you’re good to go!