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ISO: A Proper Bread Knife


FoodZealot
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Funny -- I can't remember if my bread knife is Wusthof or Henckels. Either brand has 8" knives for about $60-70, Chef's Catalog or Williams-Sonoma. My MIL also recently gave me a Calphalon knife set, and the bread knife is nice, but a little heavy for my hand. The blade is also thicker than my other one, and I find it better suited for denser breads. If you can get your hands on a Cook's Illustrated review of knives, that would probably best guide your purchase.

As for the space issue, I so love the magnetic bar we have in our kitchen. And when it comes down to it, there are really only about 4 knives that I use regularly and would all fit on it. Yay, free counter space!

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for a cheap knfe, victorinox is always a good choice. and my local knife pusher - who could easily have tried to sell me something expensive - told me that their bread knives are the best. i tend to think he's right.

i believe it's sold under another name in the usa?

christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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If I were you, I'd get something like this.  It's an 8 inch serrated bread knife with an offset handle.  It's made by F. Dick (one of the most respected manufacturers).  It will cut bread as well as any knife on the market.  It costs twelve bucks.

I have an nearly exact replica of the knife slkinsey linked to above. It is excellent, I got it at MingWo in Chinatown ... so if you are in GVA you can get one there ... it was more than $ 12 US, but it is great! For larger breads I use a sword. Ok only my family calls it that, but is a super long thin knife with serrated edge, had it for many years now and paid about $ 30.00 for it. I think they have things similar to this at MingWo as well. Good luck - I never see knifes at Winners - but maybe Peppyre was out in suburbia.

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The Winners in Suburbia are definitely where all the good kitchen deals are to be had. I've also picked up a couple of really expensive Japanese sushi knives with bamboo resin handles for next to nothing. I've also seen Kyocera ceramics in the Home Sense in West Van for are $50. If you are in Canada, that's definitely an option.

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for a cheap knfe, victorinox is always a good choice. and my local knife pusher - who could easily have tried to sell me something expensive - told me that their bread knives are the best.  i tend to think he's right.

i believe it's sold under another name in the usa?

I would totally agree and Victorinox are so easy to sharpen. Back to global as the steel is sooooooo hard if you let them go blunt good luck in getting them sharp again, they need keeping sharp and they're a brilliant knife but when you let them get blunt it's hell trying to put an edge back on get them to a knife sharpener and keep them sharp.

Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey eGullet,

I have been reading a bit in various knife/cookware catalogs about recent offset bread knife offerings from Trident, etc. The idea is that, with the blade lower than the handle, you get good knuckle clearance when cutting that loaf. Have you used them? Do you like them better than a straight blade? What would you say is a good minimum blade length? Trident, I think, makes a nice forged 8" model, though someone posted in a recent thread that they thought that anything less than 10" was far too short. Also, would you drop the extra $ for a forged blade, seeing as how one wouldn't be using this too often? Also, what might these be good for besides bread? Tomatoes? Cold cuts? Henckels, I think, makes a deli "super slicer", not offset, but serrated.

As ever, thanks.

Edit: This post may seem a bit repetitive, but as it was combined into this thread from an original thread as a starter post, I cry your pardon. I guess the new relevant questions from my post have mostly to do with blade length, and to what extent you all have found the offset knives to be better that straight ones, and forged vs. stamped blades, which really has to do with how effectively one can sharpen a serrated blade, thus leading to a more expensive forged blade being a keeper. Any thoughts?

Edited by afn33282 (log)
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  • 2 months later...

I have an expensive Wusthof scalloped. When it was new, it felt like a multi-thousand $ Japanese vegetable slicer -- it just glided through bread without effort.

Unfortunately, as it got dull (over the course of a year or so), the performance declined greatly. It's possible to sharpen a bread knife with ordinary "teeth," but the reverse scallops of the Wusthof blade are impossible.

I also got an Oxo, with the handle pointing up, like Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet, but it puts a lot of torsion on my wrist, and it's hard to control.

My solution is the cheap, moderately offset Forschner. Just throw it away when it gets too dull.

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. . . My solution is the cheap, moderately offset Forschner.  Just throw it away when it gets too dull.

This is my scheme as well. They cost around $30 and I buy a new one about every 2 years.

=R=

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I have an expensive Wusthof scalloped.  When it was new, it felt like a multi-thousand $ Japanese vegetable slicer -- it just glided through bread without effort.

Unfortunately, as it got dull (over the course of a year or so), the performance declined greatly.  It's possible to sharpen a bread knife with ordinary "teeth," but the reverse scallops of the Wusthof blade are impossible.

FWIW, I have a waterstone which is dead flat, and I place the flat side of the knife on the stone and carefully apply pressure to the scallops side while making small circular motions. It works decently well for me.

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  • 1 year later...

Let me revive this thread with a question that I don't think has been addressed. What I'm looking for is a 12-inch bread knife whose blade is very rigid. I'd prefer a non-offset handle (the length takes care of knuckle-clearance issues, mostly, and a straight knife is easier to store). Price, within reason, is no object - "within reason" meaning that the

Franz Güde damascus blade @ $4,000 is out of the question, but, say $125 would be okay. Thanks.

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Franz Güde has a standard 12" bread knife that I hear is really really good but sells for about $160. I would love to be able to justify this much money on a bread knife. This would be the one I get if I could. Franz Güde

If you don't want to spend that much then there are two knives virtually identical that I'd recommend but they're 10.5 inches. Price is right. First one is the MAC Bread/Roast slicer and the other is Wusthof Super Slicer. I personally have the MAC.

I did find this Misono serrated too when looking around (scroll down). I know nothing about it but it's definately long enough. Send Koki an email to see how stiff it is. Could be another viable option.

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Smart & Final sells this  knife for $14.95.

gallery_17399_60_1101952190.jpg

As you can see, it has a 12 inch blade - it can be used for slicing ham, roasts, but I use it for bread because I bake some very large loaves and if I want to cut them diagonally or lengthwise, I need a long blade. 

When one gets dull I toss it and get another, however they last, with fairly heavy use, on very crusty breads, at least 3 years.

I picked up one of these Dexter-Russells at the restaurant supply when Andie first recommended it. Paid about $19-20 US. I already had an 8" Henkels, but it was too short to be useful for large loaves. The 12" Dexter-Russell does a great job.

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FoodZealot:

I own and recommend that you consider buying: LamsonSharp 10" Curved Bread Knife, or the 9" Offset Bread Knife.

Lamson & Goodnow also make the 7 1/2" Offset Bread Knife for sandwiches. If you would like some larger serrated slicers, consider: 10" Roast Slicer-Wave-Edge, 12" Slicer-Wave-Edge, 14" Slicer-Wave-Edge. They are made in the USA, come with a lifetime warranty, and are less expensive than Forschner, Dexter-Russell, Henckels, etc., cutlery. Forschner(Victorinox)'s steel tends to be very soft and does not retain an edge very well. I have used their butcher-, bread-, and slicing-knives, and found them to become dull quite rapidly. The same is true of my Dexter-Russell knives(I own the Sani-Safe, and SofGrip product lines).

The LamsonSharp serrated bread knives (at least mine anywary) were cut with a 1/8 inch serration vis-a-vis most other serrated knives which were/are cut with a 1/4 inch serration. Russell Harrington aka Dexter-Russell calls their serrated knives scalloped knives. Knives with 1/4" scallops or serrations can be honed slightly with a ceramic rod. Some of the later LamsonSharp serrated, Wave-Edge knives seem to have a 1/4" serration.

I once tried my LamsonSharp 10" curved bread knife on a frozen San Francisco sour dough bread loaf against my other serrated knives and it sliced through the entire frozen loaf in 5 or 6 strokes whereas my Dexter-Russell 8 in. scalloped bread knife took about 30 strokes to slice through the loaf!

I then called Lamson & Goodnow and told their technical representative about my experience, and he strongly advised me not to ever try that again with any knives because they were not designed to be frozen food knives!

I have found my LamsonSharp knives to be sharper than my Dexter-Russell, Tramontina, Mundial, Chicago Cutlery, Forschner, or Henckels knives. Most of my professional kitchen cutlery are LamsonSharp. LamsonSharp's forged line of cutlery use high-carbon stainless steel from Solingen, Germany, whereas their stamped steel cutlery is made of American-made steel.

Another excellent American manufacturer of professional kitchen cutlery with a lifetime warranty is EdgeCraft which manufactures the ChefsChoice Trizor 10X cutlery line, but their Master Series 2000 product line is manufactured in Germany, and seems to strongly resemble the F. Dick Pro-Dynamic product line(although I cannot verify this).

Edited by TheUnknownCook (log)

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  • 8 years later...

I have an expensive Wusthof scalloped. ... It's possible to sharpen a bread knife with ordinary "teeth," but the reverse scallops of the Wusthof blade are impossible.

 

k43, that wusthof scalloped knife can be honed - there's a sharpener with a spring-action honing surface that hugs the entire curve of each serration, work in seconds. Works on regular knives, too: http://brodandtaylor.com/knife-sharpener/

Edited by Smithy
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k43, that wusthof scalloped knife can be honed - there's a sharpener with a spring-action honing surface that hugs the entire curve of each serration, work in seconds. Works on regular knives, too: http://brodandtaylor.com/knife-sharpener/

I found this Vulkanus that's half the price of the B&T-anyone use this one?

http://www.amazon.com/Vulkanus-Classic-Knife-Sharpener-Black/dp/B003CCP9V8/ref=lh_ni_t?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

Edited by Smithy
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The only comment I can add is: get an offset blade. Otherwise you will keep banging your knife-hand knuckles on the counter as you get to the bottom crust.

 

+1.  This was going to be my own comment.  I find an offset handle a must where particularly crusty/dense bread is involved.

Bob Sherwood

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k43, that wusthof scalloped knife can be honed - there's a sharpener with a spring-action honing surface that hugs the entire curve of each serration, work in seconds. Works on regular knives, too: http://brodandtaylor.com/knife-sharpener/

That looks like a great knife sharpener. Has anybody used one? The reviews on Amazon certainly highly praised it but sometimes they are biased.

Edited by Smithy
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Yes.  This less expensive model has the same springs and rods but the body is made of lexan (or similar plastic type stuff).  It is too light to be self supporting while pulling the blade through - have to hold down the bottom.  The bottom that is just below the blade.  With your fingers.

 

That looks like a great knife sharpener. Has anybody used one? The reviews on Amazon certainly highly praised it but sometimes they are biased.

 

Yes.  The stainless model has same springs and rods and is heavy enough to be self supporting while pulling blade through.

 

The Vulkanis (sp?) has changed owner or distributor and is now sold as Brod and Taylor.  Same device(s).  Current stock of Vulkanis is being exhausted and new stock is the B&T. 

 

I've used them both and owned the stainless model.  Rods are very coarse for sharpening, I would guess equivelent to 2-300 grit.  Better than most pull though "systems", very easy for a novice to use, takes up small footprint on countertop and is better than not using anything.   I gave mine to a friend who is an average home cook (Wusties and Shun) and it serves her well.

 

Same limitations as other pull throughs, coarse edge, no thinning, good for double bevel symetric knives only.   I found claims of sharpening serrated edges dubious at best..

Edited by daveb (log)
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 I found claims of sharpening serrated edges dubious at best..

 

For me, it works really well on my wusthof bread knife. For serrated knives it only hones (realigns the edge without removing metal). It doesn't sharpen (remove metal from) serrated edges, so might not do the trick if they are too far gone.

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I own what I think is the best bread knife (actually I own two types).

The Wustof 10-inch Classic Bread Knife, which is fabulous and also the Cusinart electric knife.

The electric knife (with its bread blades) makes short work of slicing whole loaves.  For just a slice here and there I pull out the Wustof.  Both do a great job.

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