The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Is it the loaf or the knife

enespana's picture
enespana

Is it the loaf or the knife

New sourdough baker with an odd question. Several times I have tried to cut a slice off a loaf and it just sort of crumbles.  At first I figured I wasn’t cooling them long enough so I waited a full day to slice into a loaf. But it still continues to happen. My bread knife isn’t the highest quality but it seems to do fine with local bakery loaves.  Any thoughts as to the reason?  Thanks!

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Good bread knives are always your friend. Fortunately, they're not really expensive and their purchase pays off in the long run. There have been threads here about the best knife and the best value knife that are archived for retrieval. The Victorinox bread knife is a reasonably priced knife and preferred by many. I've found that an offset blade with a gentle curve works for me but it is usually priced higher in most companies catalogs.

Amazon has bread knives starting at less than $10 and the prices do go up from there. But if you're purchasing with the idea that you want a knife that lasts, take some time to learn and find what you really want.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

got any pictures of the crumb and/or what flours are in the loaves?

enespana's picture
enespana

Light in my kitchen is kind of terrible so isn't the greatest in terms of color.  The loaf is 40% whole wheat flour, 30% bread flour and 30% AP flour. Thanks for the help!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

(maybe it's the knife). How are you keeping the loaf from drying out?

It looks like there is a sturdy crust with a nice moist middle.  When the loaf has cooled, do you bag it overnight to soften the crust evening out the loaf moisture?    

What oven temp is the bake?  

enespana's picture
enespana

I usually let it cool out for about 12 hours. Then I keep it in a linen sack. How long do you typically leave out before storing? Oven temp is about 500 for first 28 minutes and then 450 to set crust for 5-7.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Yes, some photos of the loaf, the crumb and the crumbles would help.   "Crumbling" sounds like what happened to some of my over-fermented loaves in the bread machine, when I went to slice.

Was there a void space near the top that looked like it collapsed?

Martin Crossley's picture
Martin Crossley

I often find it quite tricky to slice a really fresh SD loaf neatly and I'm not great at cutting even slices at the best of times; so when I want to slice a whole loaf at once (e.g. to freeze it) it used to be a pretty laborious job.

Then I got a tip from someone to use an electric carving knife; you know - the type that has one fixed blade and another that reciprocates beside it. If you can pick one up from a charity shop or "your favourite online retailer" they make the whole process a breeze, giving a really clean cut and much less waste.

I think the reason it works so well is because you're not having to saw away at the bread, which tends to rip the crumb because it gets dragged back and forth by the side of the knife...

EDIT: most electric carving knives come with blades having scalloped cutting edges, and while these are ideal for meat they do struggle a bit with the crust on a loaf. However I've noticed that some machines (e.g. the VonShef one) come with interchangeable blades, one set of which are serrated like a normal bread knife - which would probably be a lot better.

 

Lisa McCoy's picture
Lisa McCoy

This does seem like the knife might have been the culprit.