The Fresh Loaf

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Cutting baguette's in cross-section: Why, and then what?

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Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Cutting baguette's in cross-section: Why, and then what?

Quite frequently I see picture posts on this forum of baguettes cut in cross-section to show off the openness of the crumb.  For instance, see the post of txfarmer's gorgeous sourdough baguettes which presently grace the homepage of the site.

What I don't quite understand is why one would do this, and if one did, how do you go about eating the baguette afterward?  I get that it shows off the crumb nicely, much more so than a single vertical slice does.  I thought it seemed perfectly natural that there were color photos of like this in Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread--a lot of the bread pictured in bread books doesn't get eaten anyway, I'm sure.  Likewise in dmsnyder's posts about his time at SFBI it seemed sensible that one of the set of baguettes would be cross-sectioned to show the crumb results.

But many on the forum do a cross-sectioned cut--in one recent post that I'd lost track of, it seemed like every one of the baguettes from that bake had been cross-sectioned.

So, what does one do with a cross-sectioned baguette? How do you generally eat it? And while we're at it, how might I go about convincing my wife I haven't gone (more) totally bread-crazy were I to try it? :)

EDIT: To be more specific, I should say that it is the longitudinal (longways, horizontal) cut that perplexes me. Thanks to Mark for pointing that out.

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

You make a sandwich out of it...  Get some prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato and basil, and you have an awesome sandwich...

You could also make garlic bread too...  Just some ideas...

There's also more surface area to spread butter, preserves, or pate...


proth5's picture

French breakfast item is the "tartine" - a baguette cut longways then into toaster sized chunks.

Toast and eat with butter.  For a real treat dip in hot chocolate.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Ah, so that's what a tartine is.  Makes somewhat more sense why so many home bakers seem to cut that way to show off the crust.

txfarmer's picture

You mean the "round-ish" small slices? Toasted then spread with butter/honey/whatever, dip in dips (often avacado in our house), or more frequently just plain as is( Fresh out of oven, that's the best way to truely taste the bread itself IMO. ). They are a perfect snack! We do vertical long cuts to make sandwiches, but also cut some in cross sections to just eat with soup or other dishes. In fact, my husband in particual like his foods seperate, so he never wants sandwiches, instead, he likes to have slices of baguettes and some western/even chinese dishes to make a meal.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

No, I'm thinking of a horizontal cross-section, like the picture behind the link.  The little round slices are easy to figure out--we tend towards butter or just plain :).

txfarmer's picture

Well, those are perfect for sandwiches. The holes would absorb a lot of sauce (i.e. flavor), and the top/bottom crust can catch sauce so nothing drip through. A picture is better than 1000 words - what I had today for dinner: baguette sandwich with tona confit, roasted sweet pepper and fresh spinach.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

That looks amazing, and I don't even like tuna!  Thanks for sharing!

Chuck's picture

A commonplace is that "artisan" (i.e. holey) breads are not good for sandwiches because stuff drips through the holes.

As the picture illustrates, that's baloney. Just cut any bread (not just baguettes) the long way. The intact crust will catch all the drips, and the holes provide lots of places for fillings and dressings to nestle.

mcs's picture

I think you're describing the longitudinal cut instead of the cross-section, which is why breadbakingbass suggested sandwiches.  It works better to show off your crumb since you're not just looking through the holes at your table or whatever the baguette is on.  I cut mine like that, then put them on a pan and broil them in the oven or just put butter on them.  Since you've got a top and a bottom, nothing falls through.
Not to be nit-picky (OK, to be nit-picky), but the cross section is how txfarmer described them as rounds like how you would cut wood with a cross-cut saw perpendicular to the grain or long axis.


Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

You're right, I was thinking of the longitudinal cut; my mistake.  Probably should have picked an example which didn't have both cuts visible in it.  But txfarmer's crumb is so pretty...

breadsong's picture

Hello Ryan,

Here's an idea, credited to Didier Rosado by way of Rose Levy Beranbaum, in her book The Bread Bible:

Using ficelles or baguettes, still warm from the oven:
Cut each warm baguette into 2 pieces, and split each one lengthwise in half.
Spread each piece with (2 teaspoons) unsalted butter and grate about 4 grams (about 1 tablespoon) of milk chocolate on top, using a melon baller or a peeler.
The thin flurries of chocolate will melt immediately on contact.

Mmmm...bagettes for lunch or dinner; why not as a breakfast treat or for dessert?

Regards, breadsong