The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Best Bread Knife? Maybe

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gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

Best Bread Knife? Maybe

My old Forschner was getting dull and I was tired of doing a clumsy attempt at resharpening it.  So it was time for a replacement.  I found this review site http://reviews.cookingcache.com/bread-knives-review.html

I bought the Tojiro 270mm (which is longer than my Forschner) and it is AMAZING.  IIRC much, much sharper than the Forschner was when new.  It is very well made and is a joy to use.  I can't comment on its ability to hold an edge, but right now I'm a happy camper. [see below for an update]

The place I bought it, referenced in the review, had free shipping for orders over $60.  I also ordered a $5.95 Forschner paring knife that put me over by 90 cents!

I just found this YouTube review of the knife: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0ll30aB-tQ

[I've now had the knife about two months and I'm disappointed.  While it was great on soft to firm crusted breads its Japanese edge profile isn't up to hard-crusted artisan breads.  The edge is starting to roll over in spots.  The first sign of trouble was after slicing a loaf of "mountain bread" made from an Italian cookbook I have.  I really started to notice the edge rolling after slicing a country loaf from Tartine Bakery.  Now I'm on the look out for a knife that will stand up to hard crusts]

[UPDATE 2: I got another knife, the Pure Komachi 2 that alabubba recommended.  I REALLY like it.  The blade is 2 inches shorter than the Tojiro's and the handle is much smaller and not as secure feeling.  However, at $10 I can get six of them for what I bought the Tojiro for.  The Pure Komachi's blade seems to be at least as sharp as the Tojiro's, but the narrower coated blade goes through a loaf more easily.  I haven't used it on super hard crusts yet, but I don't care. Discussions I've had with knife people lately tend to support the view that serrated knifes should be treated as disposable items and to not spend a ton of money on them.  My only issue with the Pure Koamchi is the blade length, but that is not a show stopper.  Thanks alabubba for the recommendation]

[UPDATE 3: I've had the Pure Komachi 2 for awhile, so it is time for an update.  I'm starting to notice that its edge is rolling a bit.  Not nearly as much as the Tojiro did, but then again it hasn't had to cut loaves with as hard a crust.  My pure guess at this time is that the Pure Komachi's blade will last longer.  The biggest issue I have with the Pure Komachi is that it is difficult to make straight cuts, for bread slices, on wide loafs.  The combination of the small round handle and the short narrow blade aren't suited for easily making these cuts where you want to have a uniform width top to bottom.  Here the Tojiro, with its longer wider blade and flat-sided handles shines.  Right now I find I'm using both knifes as the situation dictates.  The search for the perfect knife continues (the Chicago Cutlery?) :-)]

[UPDATE 4: After extended use of the Pure Komachi I really began to dislike its problems with wide loaves.  I bought the 10" Chicago Cutlery to try.  It was VERY dull as received and didn't cut cleanly.  I sharpened it with a Spyderco Triangle Sharpmaker and things were good.  BTW - The Sharpmaker is AMAZING!.  See my more detailed review below for more info on the Chicago Cutlery.  Now, what is my recommendation? The Pure Komachi is out.  I just don't like it for wide loaves of bread.  If you don't know how to sharpen a serrated blade then the Tojiro is the winner.  However, my recommendation is to get the Chicago Cutlery AND the Spyderco Sharpmaker.  You'll end up with a good knife and a great sharpener.  (Who knows if I'd still have my old Forschner if I'd had the Spyderco Sharpmaker back then?)]

[UPDATE 5: Still using the Chicago Cutlery and the Tojiro.  Generally happy.  The Chicago is good but really shreds soft bread.  This week the wife and I went to San Francisco and ate at a great restaurant. What intrigued me was the bread cutting.  There was a guy who almost non-stop was cutting artisan loaves of bread for bread baskets.  Literally he would finish one loaf and then start on another with few pauses between.  I asked him how long the knife lasted before it needed to be replaced. (Not his usual question :-) ).  He showed me the knife, a Dexter 8" scalloped bread knife, walnut handle (I believe it was a S62-8RSC-PCP) and said "at least six months".  I haven't tried one, but would definitely consider it in the future if I need another bread knife.]

alabubba's picture
alabubba

Got this 3 years ago. Used daily. Still sharp. If it gets dull, I'll toss it and get another.

http://www.amazon.com/Pure-Komachi-2-Bread-Knife/dp/B0029XBUKK/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1322766615&sr=8-5

P.S. read my review and pics on amazon.

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

alabubba Thanks!

I got one and really like it.  See my comments in the first post of this thread.

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

Gbguy71 joins TFL two days ago and in his first and only post he pimps a particular knife with language that sounds like an ad. That sure makes me wonder about his intentions. 

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

J. Wills,

I can certainly understand your skepticism.  However, it is misplaced.  I've started baking bread again, after a long hiatis, and have been lurking for a few weeks.   In fact, I've got some questions on dealing with highly hydrated doughs but I wanted to go through the 70+ pages of "Artisan Baking" to see if my questions had already been answered before I started a new thread (only though page 47 as we speak).

I thought I'd contribute something until then.  The knife geninuely works well.  Though if I'd known about $10 knife alabubba mentioned I might have given it a shot.

Now, if I WAS pimping a knife, I'd reference this one which I ran across while researching the bread knife.  The 20-second video on this page absolutely blows my mind  http://www.chefknivestogo.com/rire24wimo.html  and NO, I have no connection with any knifes, vendors, etc.

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

Good luck in your baking!

Lareynadenada's picture
Lareynadenada

I hav a Chicago Cutlery (about 20") that I love would not part with it have had it forever, still sharp. Sells new $18.99

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

I'm fond of Grohmann knives in Pictou, Nova Scotia -- a tiny knife making operation but with great knives.  They differentiate between a right-handed and a left-handed bread knife.  The knives aren't cheap but I generally contact them directly at the factory store and ask them to notify me when they get a second of the model I'm hoping to get.  The seconds are usually half price.  We have their "forged line" bread knife and have been very happy with it.  The only thing "second" I can see about it is the tiny "s" stamped near the base of the blade and that it was 1/2 price. 

loydb's picture
loydb

I use a Wustoff Culinar that I love. It's a pricy, but amazing knife.

 

djeffsmith's picture
djeffsmith

Thats what I grab for bread (and I have others).  Scalloped edge slices bread (VS. Saws) and it so sharp it doesn't crush the loaf you are cutting.  It also has a nice shape to then just smear the butter/cream cheese/etc. right on.  Its an odd little knife that I doubted I would use when received for a gift.  I use it all the time though and dig it. 

http://www.amazon.com/Shun-DM0741-Classic-Ultimate-Utility/dp/B000NW106S/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1322846300&sr=8-2

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

I just updated my original post with some details.  My "best" knife isn't!  Hard crust breads cause the edge to roll.

alabubba's picture
alabubba

If you still have your old knife, They can be sharpened. Look in the phone book, or ask at the local hardware store. I bet there is someone in your town that does it and is good at it.  Will cost a lot less then 60 bucks.

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

Good idea.  The guy who sold me the knife said he'd resharpen it, BUT he can't change the angle of the edge bevel - so I'll end up with the same problem.  In fact I can and have resharpened serrated blades before, which is what I'll do in the short run.

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

Comments:

I bought a relatively inexpensive, German made, bread knife years ago that I thought I'd use until it got bad (since it is a serrated knife) and then I'd get rid of it and invest in a quality knife.  I still have that knife and we use it on a daily basis, and it's around 10 years old.  Whut?  The key to keeping it going, and I'll make the rash assumption that it applies to other knives as well, is the Lansky sharpening system that I have (http://www.lansky.com).  The kit came with a sharpening stone that is triangular in cross section that really works well for sharpening serrated knives (no affiliation with the company BTW ...my brother's father in law suggested the sharpening kit to me).  I also got the optional little stand that holds the sharpener for me and do recommend it.  But anyway, I just sit down once in awhile and spend 15 minutes or so carefully sharpening our serrated knives and they come away working like brand new.  The sharpening system allows you to sharpen at a fine angle (try to match the manufacturer's original set), and it helps to go over the knife, both sides, using a higher angle and a light touch.  Sharpening can cause a tiny, as in microscopic, rollover of the edge and the 'light touch' at a slightly higher angle removes it if it exists.  Anyway, for those that have serrated knives, I just wanted to toss this solution into the mix ...works well for us, so why not share?

 

Brian

 PS: I bought the 4-stone system ...for about 2/3rds of what they charge now, but that's what happens over time... prices go up.  Buy quality and just keep it ...like my grandmother who still has the same coffee pot and toaster that she had when we were kids way too many years ago to count ...but she's 94 now :)

 

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

I'm curious what brand of German knife you bought.  I'm familiar with the Lansky system (I've got an EdgePro, with is similar).  To sharpen serrated knives I, freehand, use a Smith's Diamond Serrated Knife Hook Sharpener Multitool. It has a tapered rod which can fit various tooth curves. It appears to be discontinued, but you can find them on eBay.

gene wild's picture
gene wild

I've used a knife from these guys for a couple years now and am very pleased with it. It cuts hard crsuted bread as well as soft and seems to be as sharp as when I got it. It also looks great.   www.betterbreadknife.com

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

I'm familiar with those types of knifes.  The blade is a length of "bread band", as used in a  commercial bread slicer (think bandsaw band).  The wooden "bow" on the one I had years ago would flex quite a bit on hard breads and wasn't much fun to use.  Their conventional-style knife looks interesting.

johnr55's picture
johnr55

I know nothing about fancy bread knives; I've been using the same Henckels bread knife for at least twenty years.  Looking at this original post, what does "edge rolling" mean?  If I've ever had it I guess I haven't recognized it in nearly 40 years of bread baking.  But then, I don't do exotic breads. 

Thanks for the information!

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

John,

"Edge rolling" isn't a baking term.  It is a term that describes a knife's edge.  The edge can "roll over" (bend) if the edge is not strong enough to sustain the force applied while cutting.  Imagine a very, very thin knife edge and then trying to cut a steel bar.  The edge will "roll" (bend) over.

This is a simple example.  It is actually a fairly complex problem.  A knife maker has to balance the hardness and brittleness of the knife's steel and the angle of its bevel (axe vs. razor).  The knife in question's blade wouldn't stand up to very hard artisan loafs.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and have a bread knife and a few sharp knives for cutting day old or older loaves.  Sounds to me like abusing a sushi knife for cutting bread!  

Time to wet a wet stone to remove the "roll."   

Must be my day!  My hubby is whipping up a fancy breakfast with his sushi knife!  :)

johnr55's picture
johnr55

Dang!  I'd be worried about my teeth if the bread were that tough-

Another question - I have a Bosch meat slicer that sure has a very sharp blade and adjustable cutting depth.  I never thought of using it for bread, though.  Would a meat slicer, with that circular blade running quite fast, do a decent job on your type of bread?

 

Thanks again for the education-

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

a beautiful job.  

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

In the original post in this thread I provided an update on the use of the Pure Komachi knife.

BoyntonStu's picture
BoyntonStu

The three bread knives are in order of best to worst, top to bottom.

Farberware special stainless, my favorite

J.A. Henckel's International, Ever Edge stainless

Titanium Professional  (Titanium not steel)

The pocket knife is a customized razor knife and it is as sharp as a razor.

I paid $1 for each knife at Goodwill.

Steel against bread crust is not a challenge that easily dulls.

A knife does not need to stay sharp for years if you can sharpen it in 3 minutes.

IOW Why spend more for any knife if the cost of an inexpensive knife and a sharpener is less than a super duper expensive knife that costs $60 to sharpen?

My hobby is baking and frugality.

stU

 

 

 

 

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

The following site explains knives and the sharpening process. You'll learn some pretty neat tricks that will keep your knives sharp and your hands away from injury:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/26036-knife-maintenance-and-sharpening/

Wild-Yeast

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

Wild-Yeast,

Thanks for the great link!!!  Easily the most complete treatise on sharpening I've seen in one place.  (I'm a bit of a sharpening nut, with an Edge-Pro, both smooth and ceramic steels, a diamond rod for serrated knifes, Leonard Lee's book - plus various stones, etc.  Gee, I need to get a life!)  BTW - the Edge-Pro works great, but is too time consuming.

BoyntonStu's picture
BoyntonStu

Serrated knife sharpening is what is needed for bread knives.

You need a buffing wheel that is soft enough to enter the serrated grooves.

It is basically a polishing operation.

 

wmtimm627's picture
wmtimm627

I've had mine for 6 years now. I've never had to sharpen it. It even messed up one of my bread index boxes because it was too(?) sharp.

Iseem to get the feeling that people here on this forum are averse to anything that America's Test Kitchen recommends; I have some doubts about many of their favorites myself. That being said, their love of Forschner knives (for the most part) is well intended, and I can wholeheartedly agree with them. I have owned the 8" chef knife, 3" parer and the bread knife for a long time now and can easily recommend them to anyone.

I've used some of the forged knives (but not owned them) before, but there's no way I can justify the much higher cost.

Billybob

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

Billybob,

I had a Forschner, for more than six years IIRC, and it did become dull.  I bought it because of a Cooks Illustrated review.  I resharpened it a few times following the same techniques shown in the excellent eGullet article. Thought I'd try something different.  Who knows, maybe the Forschner is the best?  For $15 I just bought a 10" Chicago Cutlery, which will be the last experiment.  Will see how it compares.

JimZ's picture
JimZ

So many good comments. Now for my two cents. All my good knives are Chicago Cutery that I have had for almost 25+yrs. Never had a bread knife, just a serrated long blade cutting knife that was my Father's. Very old. Last Fall I ordered some things from King Arthur with free shipping and added the off set bread knife. I do not not know if I did not read enough but I had no idea what brand it was till it came in. The brand was Dexter. Another excellant American knife maker like Chicago Cutery. My Father was a proffesional cook from the old school and his work knives were Dexter.I have been using this knive for about 6 months, very, very sharp. I use it for slashing my breads and it is excellant. Love it. No problem with dulling so far cutting any of my breads. My question is how does a serrated knife get dull quickly cutting breads? I am anal about care of my knives. They are all hand washed, never touch the sink, and go into sheaths made from note book card board before they go in the drawer.  So I enjoy my offset serrated bread knife from Dexter and King Arthur. Just my 2 cents-JimZ

PS: I have a good background in knife sharpening. Maybe that is why I am so nutty about care of knives. Makes a big difference

ananda's picture
ananda

For the money, I contest you will not find a better bread knife than this one:

http://www.russums-shop.co.uk/knives-c44/giesser-knives-c58/giesser-bread-knife-8-p688

Best wishes

Andy

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

Here is my final update.  I bought the 10" Chicago Cutlery to try it.  (Read the first post in this thread for the other knives I've tried).  Out of the package it was VERY dull and wouldn't cut very cleanly.  I sharpened it with a Spyderco Triangle Sharpmaker (this is an OUTSTANDING sharpener!!!  I'm in love with it.) and things were good.  The Pros on this knife: easy to make straight cuts on large loaves, handle is comfortable.  The Cons: blade unacceptably dull when received, handle doesn't provide any knuckle room if your hand is directly over the cutting surface.  If the bread is elevated on a cutting board and your hand is "off the board" you'll have no problems.

IF you can sharpen the Chicago Cutlery I highly recommend it.  In fact the Chicago Cutlery and the Spyderco sharpener aren't that much more than the Tojiro by itself and would provide you with a great knife and a great sharpener.

 

dvto2's picture
dvto2

There is a video on the page where the Tojiro is sold (at chefknivestogo.com) that shows how to sharpen the Tojiro with a waterstone. 

drips's picture
drips

I just got one of these as a gift and it's pretty sweet. The bow part helps me cut a nice parallel slice though it limits thickness to about 1". My previous bread knife was nothing to write home about and I've only sliced a few loaves with the Appalachian Bow Saw so I can't speak to it's longevity but it seems full of promise. And if you need a new blade you just mail in your old blade and pay $3.

http://www.appalachianbowsaw.com

sourdoughnut's picture
sourdoughnut

Cheap and really good. Bought based on a cook's illustrated recommendation, and no regrets. Serrated, nice broad blade, and about $25.

gbguy71's picture
gbguy71

See the original post for Update 5 on yet another possible knife.

BobBoule's picture
BobBoule

is her 25 year old CutCo 9-3/4" Slicer. It slices well and if it dulls you just send it back and they will properly sharpen it for the cost of return shipping (you can send multiple knives of the cost of one shipping). This really is ideal if you already own CUTCO knives or if you have a tremendous amount of willpower because the in-home demo will leave you wanting to buy more than one one knife. They also sell them at the bigger fairs, which makes it much easier to just pick up one knife. I have never learned how to properly sharpen a serrated knife and everyone whom I've had do it for me just ruined it so now I will only send it to the factory. They are guaranteed for life, so I only have to deal with the 7-10 days that it takes to get there, be sharpened and then returned to me.

In the specific case of a bread knife, this is is worth it to me (I have tons of knives and just use one of the old ones while this one is out for sharpening) to wait because they really are sharp from the factory and seem to hold that edge quite long for us. I also like that the handle is shaped for better grip, which makes using a heel-less blade shape like this feel much safer. No, I don't use the rest of the CUTCO knife set she has in the block for other tasks, I have a good collection of fine Japanese and German knives for my non-bread centric cutting tasking.