Bread machines make it incredibly easy to have your own bread on demand and it takes less than five minutes to assemble, weigh or measure the six ingredients and set the whole thing off.
Most machines have a fast bake option of two hours for a plain white loaf or the longer full four hours if preferred. There is a difference in loaf texture and taste, but both are truly delicious. For wholemeal loaves, there’s no shorter bake option, because the dough needs time to develop properly.
Usually, I bake in the early evening, so there’s a fresh loaf for sandwiches the next morning. Leaving the bread to cool properly for at least two hours before cutting is really important; no matter how tempting it might be to grab the knife and hack a crispy warm crust off.
Cutting warm bread is not quite impossible, but nearly – and it is difficult not to ruin the entire loaf. Warm bread squashes out of shape when you hold or apply pressure to it, the knife sort of snags and catches in the loaf, pulling it apart instead of gliding through in a smooth slicing motion.
You can make the process a lot easier using a bread slicing guide like the Bread Pal (most popular) or the one I have, the Elite – and there are plenty more to choose from. The other option is a food slicer – again a great choice if you have a family to feed and make sandwiches for, but if you don’t have (and don’t want) either one of these, then read on.
You Can Always Bake Bread On The Timer
Last night after a very hectic day, one fell asleep in the chair, waking up too late to bake. Now bread machine all have timers, allowing you to wake up to fresh bread – ideal if you have time for cooling it down in the morning, but this was going to be very tight for time!
So what to do if you have to cut it still warm – or the kids go to school with no sandwiches! Well, there is a tip my grandmother passed on to me which helps and you can do this with any fresh bread.
Sharpen Your Knife First!
It might seem obvious but sharpen your knife first. Ideally, you need to sharpen knives every time you use them; realistically none of us do, this is one time to get out your sharpening stone or machine and do it. Don’t forget to wipe carefully afterward to remove the fine residue of filings left behind.
- Position your loaf on a board or in a cutting frame and boil the kettle
- Now run boiling water over the blade for a few seconds and wipe dry (don’t burn your fingers)
- Cut the loaf while the blade is still hot, using short strokes through the crust; then long strokes once the slice is started
Note – You can also turn the loaf on its side to further reduce squishing!
Heat Helps The Knife Glide Through Bread
Because the bread is not fully set, the heat from the knife surface helps it glide through without snagging and dragging. This is not perfect by the way, but a country mile ahead of not using a hot knife.
Leave the bread slices to cool further if you can, before putting the spread on – a minute or two is usually sufficient – I pop mine in the fridge for a few moments.
If you don’t allow it a few moments after cutting; the spread just melts, as you chase it around the surface.
You only want to be doing this when you’re out of time and can’t let the bread cool naturally; it isn’t a perfect solution, but using the hot knife technique will hopefully leave you with something still resembling a loaf when you’re done, rather than a flatbread.
And there you have it, how to cut fresh bread without a slicing guide and without wrecking the loaf!
There is another alternative, which is a deli slicer. Expensive if the bread is the only thing you want to slice, sheer genius if you’ll get plenty of use out of it – it saves us a lot of money to the home cook and slice cold cuts rather than buying them done. One big ham will last six weeks if you use a food vacuum and it really does cost in – you can find out more about meat slicers in this post.
If you’ve landed here looking for help with choosing the best bread machine for your family, the link will take you to a post that should help.
Should you have any comments or a specific question – or a better way to do this; then drop it below and I’ll get back to you within a day, often much faster.
August Update – Cheese and Onion Bread Machine Recipe posted here – really delicious and work in any machine.HowToCutFreshWarmBread
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