Slice It Nice
The right knife for the right bread – a quick guide.
If you’ve ever had a crusty baguette litter your elegant table with crumbs or gotten a bagel stuck in the toaster because you sliced it wrong, then you already know that just any knife won’t do. True bread aficionados match different tools to loaves just like wine connoisseurs pair glasses to vino. Here’s the best way to get the job done:
8- to 10-inch classic serrated bread knife
This is best for slicing big crusty miche loaves such as Panera’s Country or extra-large Sourdough. The teeth on the serrated edge provide bite so you get a nice full slice with no mashing. If it’s time to upgrade from the bread knife you got as a wedding gift over a decade ago, Tom Gumpel, Panera’s head baker, suggests buying one with a “wavy edge serration.” It has rounded tips rather than pointed ones, which make for even smoother slicing.
Best way to slice a bagel
Gumpel recommends standing the bagel on its edge, starting the cut vertically with a long, serrated bread knife, then laying it down and finishing the slicing horizontally away from you. This method creates even halves every time.
4-inch serrated baguette knife
This is a mini-version of the classic bread knife. It still has ample teeth to get through crust, but its size is more manageable for smaller jobs. The result: Perfect circles of French Baguette with minimal crumbing.
Your two hands
When bread is still oven-warm, there’s no better way to enjoy it than with your hands, says Gumpel. Watch the wisps of steam float up as you pull apart fresh Focaccia or Ciabatta. Feel the delicate warmth in your mouth.