The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Waiting to cut it

Felila's picture

Waiting to cut it

I've been cutting into my bread as soon as it comes out of the oven. Hot! with butter! Yum!

However, I recently read that it was wrong to cut the bread so early. It should be left to cool, as the residual heat inside the loaf finishes cooking the bread. If you cut the bread, you let out the heat.

I've managed to hold off on my last two batches of bread (once until the bread was completely cool, once until it was still a little warm but ...). I think the bread does come out lighter if I wait. Plus the bread knife doesn't get gummy.

I made a comment to that effect on a chatty copyeditor's mailing list. I immediately got several comments saying that it wasn't necessary to wait. "I've been baking my own bread for twenty years," said one. "If your bread isn't cooked until it finishes cooling, perhaps you need to keep it in the oven longer." Another person enthused, "Strike while the bread is hot!"

What do you folks do? Cool and cut, or strike while the bread is hot?



Rosalie's picture

Yes, I know I should let it cool down a bit first, but sometimes I just can't wait.  Perhaps the solution is to bake enough so that you can dig into one but still let the others cool off.

When you cook roasts in the oven - regular or microwave - you're supposed to let them "set up" for a bit before slicing.  The principles are similar - there's stuff going on deep inside that hot mass, and you should wait for them to finish their job.  Though the world won't end if you don't.


Floydm's picture

It is better to wait, but I frequently do not.

It also depends on the type of bread: I find the sourdough miche I've been baking lately isn't at its best until it is cool and even had a few days to dry out. But something like buttermilk rolls I enjoy much better while still warm.

KipperCat's picture

I try to wait with breads.  But if I can't, I take a thin slice off one end.

And I think any waiting is beneficial.  It may take 2 hours for a loaf to be room temperature all the way through, but after 30 minutes it's a lot closer to being set than right out of the oven. 

edh's picture

I've decided that I simply have to make two loaves every time; it's cruel and unusual punishment to make everyone put up with my playing with flour and water all the time, then smelling bread baking, only to be told they have to wait.

That said, I've definitely noticed that my sourdoughs taste better once they've cooled, though there isn't consensus on that point in the household...


docpat's picture

I always try to wait until the bread has cooled signifigantly before cutting into it. Unfortuately my wife harrasses and harangs me to cut into the bread as I am pullling it out of the oven. I have convinced her that it is better to wait, however, she still begs and pleads for a slice "Just to make sure it came out good." To solve the dilema, what I do is to wait until the bread has cooled enough that I am willing to compromise and cut her (OK, us a slice) and then turn the bread cut side down onto a wooden cutting board. The moisture evaporates through the crust and a damp spot is left on the board, but the eating frenzy  has begun.