The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My Favorite Bread Knife

Steve Petermann's picture
Steve Petermann

My Favorite Bread Knife

I've had a few different bread knives, some more expensive than others. They worked pretty well and all were uncoated metal.  At one point I was looking for something to score the loaves before putting them in the oven and somewhere a certain coated knife was recommended.  I got one and it turned out that the knife didn't work much better than a razor blade but I did notice that the dough didn't stick to it.  

One problem I have found with the uncoated metal bread knives is that they would pick up some of the moist bread after cutting a few times and then begin to drag. So I'd have to clean it off in the sink.  Still, they did seem to drag somewhat, particularly when cutting moist bread. So, I thought maybe a coated bread knife might work better.  Remembering the coated one I'd tried, I bought the bread knife version. Wow!  It worked so well and was very inexpensive. It has some sort of coating on the blade and goes through the bread like butter without tearing. I do run my fingers across the surface a bit in case there is some residue but if there is any it comes off without water. I also bought a polyethylene board so the edge wouldn't get dulled with use.

So I thought I'd share what I found.  Here are the links:

Bread Knife ($8 on Amazon) https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0029XBUKK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Poly Board ($14 on Amazon) https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0032AM0BC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Thanks for the tip, Steve. I wished the blade was a little longer, but it should suffice.

I have that same blade in a tomato knife configuration. It was bought for scoring, but didn’t work out for me.

Danny

By the way - did you ever get your spreadsheet figured out?

Steve Petermann's picture
Steve Petermann

Hey Danny,

Yep, the first knife I got was that tomato knife.

"By the way - did you ever get your spreadsheet figured out?"

Yes, I did.  I've been using it regularly for several months now.  Since I first mentioned it, I've changed it a lot and added quite a few features (different modes of calculation, recipe import, BBGA summary view, recipe printout, integrated soakers with hydration calcs, etc.)  I was enjoying developing it so much that I just kept going. Ughh!  Anyway, I really like using it because I can make an extensive recipe change or create a new one very quickly, print out the recipe, and give it a try.  Now, I realize there probably aren't very many people who would want to use a spreadsheet but from time to time I thought I should post it since I said I would. So, I'll get a help video done and post a link to download the spreadsheet.  Maybe someone might find it useful.  One cool thing about using Excel is that even if someone doesn't have the Excel app they could still use the calculator online with Excel Online.  It has a few limitations but does the same thing as the computer app version.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I hope to view your sheet. Always willing to improve mine.

Tell me about Excel online. I am not aware of this.

It blows my mind, how most bakers refuse to learn a spreadsheet. Every time I bake without it (too lazy to open the computer and print one), I in evidently make mistakes. After failing so much, you’d think I’d learn. Hopefully, maube I have :D

thanks, Steve.

Danny

Steve Petermann's picture
Steve Petermann

Yes I would hate to bake bread and do recipes manually :-( 

Here's the way Excel online works. Unfortunately, it's a bit complicated. First, you'd need a Microsoft account.  It's free and you may have it already.  If you have Office 360 for your Excel, Word, Powerpoint, etc., or a microsoft email (outlook,hotmail), skype, xbox, etc. you already have an account.  If you don't have an account you can get one here. With that account, you automatically get a OneDrive online drive.   So, you can upload your spreadsheet to a OneDrive folder and share it publically or only with particular email addresses. This is where it gets even more complicated. Then you can send a link to the folder to anyone and they can access the spreadsheets there. However, there are a few catches.  If you send the link to more than one person, they can both edit a file at the same time. Ughh! That won't work. But, if you can get the person's email address you can restrict a file to them only.  However, if they want to continue to use it, they would be working on your OneDrive.  Maybe not a problem but the way around that is for them to get a Microsoft account (if they don't already have one) and then they can copy a file to their OneDrive. From there they can make copies for different recipes, edit old ones, etc.  I know.  Ain't technology grand ;-)  It's a mess but at least if someone really wants to use it, once they get it set up they can really go to town with recipes to their heart's content.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Steve. Can you make certain cells on the file Read Only on OneDrive? Maybe just leave the Total Dough Weight editable? Is tat posible?

Steve Petermann's picture
Steve Petermann

Excel Online will provide the same cell protection you have in your PC file. So if you want just the Total Dough Weight editable then you could make a copy of your original file and then protect everything else, and upload that one. You could also probably just protect them while online but I suspect it's easier in the Excel app.

Maverick's picture
Maverick

Looks like this knife just went down in price a bit... $6.39

I use Excel for my formulas. It sounds like you have added more features and I would be interested to see what you came up with. Mine has you enter in the dough weight, pre-ferment flour %, and pre-ferment hydration. It then tells you how much of everything to use. It gives you the straight dough formula as well, so you know the actual final hydration. 

The other thing I put in was something to help with final dough temperature. You put in bowl temperature, flour temperature, and pre-ferment temperature (if it is 15% or more). I did some experimenting to get the friction factor of my KA mixer.

The last thing I have on mine is something to help me build my starter (if that is the pre-ferment of choice). This way I have the right amount for the formula, plus extra left over. It uses the pre-ferment weight from the above calculations and you enter in how much you want left over. That way I don't forget to make enough to keep the starter going.

Steve Petermann's picture
Steve Petermann

I use Excel formulas throughout but I did add some VB Script to automate a few things.  I imagine no matter the approach the basic functions will be there in any spreadsheet.  The design I chose was one to fit my approach to creating and modifying a recipe.  I didn't do anything with temperature but that sounds interesting.  I actually have four modes for doing the calculations.  Two use Starter Baker's % (which is common) and two use Starter Flour % which includes the starter flour and water in the calculations.  Those two can be used with either Total Dough Weight or Total Flour Weight.  I like the Total Flour Weight method when I want to compare recipes where other ingredients may change the weight considerably (like a soaker).  One thing I think is different with my spreadsheet is that soakers can be added with varying ingredients and the hydration of the dough will automatically be kept to whatever the baker wants.  In order for this to work, I had to do a lot of experiments with soaker ingredients to determine their hydration % both with room temp water and boiling water. It took a while to get the data but so far it seems to work. I really like what soakers can do for bread.  

I'll post a video explaining the spreadsheet soon with a download link.  It's pretty involved and I'm sure nobody will use it but what the heck.  

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

You are obviously very detail oriented. Myself included. I weight the soaker at initial mix and then again when ready to mix into the dough. Especially in the case hot soakers, there is a decent amount of water loss. That loss is calculated and added back in the dough water. Obessesive, I know.

I also calculate the dough water and the soaker water separately so that I know the technical hydration. Hamelman’s Five-Grain Levain is 98% hydration.

These are some of the nice things about spreadsheets for those that are obsessed. LOL

Oh wait a minute, this is probably my best suggestion. Hold out water. maybe for double hydration, maybe to better mix salt, maybe because you want to hold out water to adjust the final hydration. I show the ingredient water and its hydration and then below that line “Hold Out Water” is listed with its hydration. It really helps me from forgetting. Of course both lines are considered for the total hydration.

Dan

Steve Petermann's picture
Steve Petermann

The problem, as I see it, is that the water absorption of soaker ingredients can vary drastically depending on the ingredient. So what I wanted to do was parameterize the hydration levels of the various ingredients.  I decided to test this because I really like soakers and wanted to be able to mix and match them without a lot of trial and error.  

So the first thing I did was measure out a known weight of an ingredient. Then I'd put them in a great excess of water (both room temp and boiling) so that I know they would get fully hydrated.  I let them soak overnight. Then the next day I put the soaker ingredients in some cheesecloth and squeeze out as much of the water I could.  Then I weighed that again (minus the cheesecloth) and that gave me the supposed weight of water absorbed, and the hydration percent.  What I found was this seemed to work pretty well with some ingredients like most seeds but was a bit dicey when it came to ingredients that made a goo like oatmeal and flaxseeds.  So, I wasn't too sure how accurate that was but it gave me a baseline to work with for the next step.

The next step required some subjectivity like when we make hydration adjustments to a dough. So I got some store brand whole wheat for a test.  I made three small batches of dough.  One was the control with no soaker and a known hydration.  I chose 67% because it was stiff enough to get a good feel for its hydration.  For the two soakers (room temp and boiling) I used the first cut hydration level to calculate the water needed for the soaker to get fully hydrated and also added another 100% water to make sure they would be. So, I had the supposed free water amount with the soaker.  Then I could adjust the amount of water I put in the dough (without the soaker) such that at the end I should have the right final hydration.  Now, I figured that the first cut soaker hydrations were really too high and that there would be more free water than the hydration said.  What that would mean is that when I mixed the soaker in with the dough it would be too loose -- at least I hope that.  It turns out, in most cases, that was the case.  So then I could add flour to the dough until I got the same hydration feel as the control dough. I had weighed an excessive amount of flour before and after so I knew how much flour I added.  Then it was a simple calculation to determine the amount of real free water in the soaker and then its real hydration %.  So, I had to adjust the hydration %s down for most ingredients except the hard seeds.  

Now in making a real loaf, I could know how much water the ingredient would absorb and then add 100% more to the soaker to make sure it got fully hydrated.  So finally, that told me how much to decrease the water I added to the final dough (because of the excess water I added to the soaker).  The nice thing about it is that you can use any combination of grains, meals, seeds, etc. and still get pretty close.  Of course, some final adjustments may still be needed -- just like with different flours, but in my experience, they aren't that significant. The breads I've made using soakers and this method seem to be pretty close.

As you said with a spreadsheet all the calculations can be built-in so all you have to do is select what ingredients you want and you're done.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I love innovation and people that think outside the box. The mind is a phenomenal playground!

Dan

Steve Petermann's picture
Steve Petermann

Since many people might not see the soaker data in a bread knife thread, I'll start a new thread and include the data.

Steve Petermann's picture
Steve Petermann

Here's a link to the topic where I list a link to the spreadsheet I was talking about.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/61570/bread-recipe-spreadsheet