Using the wrong knife is a deal breaker for home cooks who put priority on the authenticity and presentation of their meals. Regardless of the recipe, a proper chef’s knife will often get you from point A to point B unscathed.
Many home cooks invest in a good chef’s knife and leave it at that. but when it comes to being efficient in the kitchen, there is another vital tool to keep in mind: the bread knife. Becoming familiar with bread knives will enhance your ability to create culinary wonders.
Here are some things to know before you make your purchase.
The Best Bread Knife: Pointed vs. Scalloped Edges
A bread knife, or a serrated knife, has saw-like notches formed on the cutting edge of the blade. This design enables the serrated knife to cut easily through food items with tough exteriors and delicate interiors, such as crusty loaves of bread.
The cut is made by the pressure exerted by the user, and the force exerted is divided among the serrations on the blade. The number, shape, and overall sharpness of the serrations differ from bread knife to bread knife, offering two different cutting edges.
The Pointed Edge Bread Knife
Pointed edge bread knives, also simply referred to as “serrated”, have sharp, aggressive teeth designed for piercing through the harder outer crust of breads using a saw-like motion.
Because of the sharp teeth, these types of bread knives require less pressure overall from the user, however, the downside is those pointed serrations can create rougher cuts and produce more crumbs.
The Scalloped Edge Bread Knife
The other type of bread knife you’re likely to encounter in your search for the best bread knife comes with a scalloped, or rounded serrations. This style is designed to stay sharper longer than knives with aggressively pointed teeth
The scalloped cutting edge may require a little more effort from the user, but its adherents swear by it and newcomers get used to its demands quickly. If the serrations are too pronounced, the knife will hack and tear away at the bread, rather than cleanly slice through.
Shallow, rounded points found on scalloped edge bread knives will preserve your crust and offer a cleaner cut.
Are Scalloped Edges Better?
Knowing the basic qualities of both types of bread knives will help you make an informed decision. But which knife is better for you?
In short, it comes down to how much extra time you’re willing or able to spend. Pointed edges may be effective at cutting harder items, sure. However, the mountain of crumbs left in their wake will make cleaning up after cooking more of a chore than it already is.
Premium scalloped edges, much like what you can find from a top tier manufacturer like F.N. Sharp, are best for making consistent cuts. The rounded edge creates a cleaner cut that will save you time on clean up, while giving an aesthetic appeal to whatever you put it up against.
Can Serrated Bread Knives be Sharpened?
Nothing good lasts forever, and like all knives, serrated edges will also wear down and dull over time. Not to fret though, it is in fact possible to restore your serrated bread knife back to working condition.
However, sharpening a serrated bread knife is trickier than sharpening a straight-edged chef’s knife. The serrated edges are usually only sharpened on one side, making it a lot more difficult for a home cooking enthusiast to navigate.
Destroying your new knife because you don’t have the necessary skills to properly sharpen your serrated blade is not very cost effective. Your best bet for maintaining the cutting edge of your bread knife is to first invest in a quality bread knife (here are some tips for our kitchen knife buying guide), then leave the sharpening process to the professionals.
Is a Bread Knife Necessary?
While you may not use a bread knife as often as the other knives in your set, it’s still a valuable tool to add to your collection. There are countless recipes, snacks and sandwich platters that call for the use of many different types of bread. And although a chef’s knife may work well enough, it falls noticeably short when slicing through crusty loaves and other foods that require a serrated knife.
The best part of purchasing a new bread knife? It isn’t just for bread! In fact, there are tons of uses for a bread knife, from slicing through tough fruits and veggies to leveling cakes, making it one of the essentials for any home kitchen.
But Wait – There’s More
Some quality bread knives, like what you can buy from F.N. Sharp, are designed to be a cross between a bread knife and a carving knife. The scalloped edges on these beauties will cleanly slice through any loaf of bread, while also retaining every flavorful drop of juice when slicing standing rib roast.
So if you haven’t considered the benefits of buying a bread knife before, then now is the time to “break some bread” and take your home cooking experience to a new level.