Best bread knife buying guide

 

A good bread knife is an essential part of any kitchen and a sensible investment for bakers in particular. It doesn’t have to be mega expensive; however, cheap bread knives can be a poor long term choice. Choosing the right bread knife can make a real difference.

What makes a good bread knife

  • Sharp – to prevent shredding the bread
  • Long blade – a 9″ – 11” / 22 – 28 cm knife blade is best for large homemade loaves (and cakes) to avoid the knife getting lost in the loaf i.e. the longer the blade, the cleaner, smoother and more even the slice. Ideally, the blade should also be slightly flexible.
  • Serrated or scalloped – for the necessary grip and bite to cut through the crust of a loaf without squashing the crumb; the serrations should be uniformly spaced and moderate in length.
  • Balanced weight – the weight between the blade and the handle should be well balanced, with not too much weight on either side.
  • Comfortable to hold – Cutting into a freshly baked loaf of your own homemade bread feels great; make sure your bread knife does too.

Some of best bread knives

Here is a review of some of the best bread knives I’ve used. The brands listed here are Wüsthof (manufactured in Germany), Global (made in Japan), Victorinox (based in Switzerland) and Robert Welch (British designer-manufacturers).

Wüsthof Xline

First of all, my personal bread knife of choice – Wüsthof Xline bread knife (23 cm blade). It cuts bread brilliantly, with very little crumb ‘lost’ in the process.

Wüsthof Xline bread knife
Wüsthof Xline 23 cm

Global Bread Knife

Global bread knife (22 cm blade, made from one single piece of steel although not fit for the dishwasher)

Global bread knife 22cm
Global bread knife 22 cm

Classic Wüsthof

This Classic Wüsthof bread knife (26 cm blade) is also excellent; very sharp and great for clean slices of large loaves.

Wüsthof bread knife
Wüsthof Classic bread knife 26 cm

Victorinox Fully Forged Rosewood Bread Knife

In terms of style, this Victorinox bread knife (23 cm blade) with ergonomic rosewood handles can’t be beaten.

Victorinox bread knife
Victorinox fully forged rosewood bread knife 23 cm

Robert Welch Signature

Finally, I’ve recently been recommended the Robert Welch Signature bread knife (22 cm blade) by http://bakergirl.co.uk/.

Robert Welch Signature bread knife
Robert Welch Signature bread knife (22 cm)

Bread knives also double up well as carving knives and are generally an excellent choice for many other foods with a hard exterior and soft centre such as tomatoes.

For a handmade knives of outstanding quality, look no further than these beautifully crafted bread knives by Robert Herder, based in Solingen in Germany. A combination of fine grinding and glazing gives each of these Windmühle knives an exceptionally thin, sharp and long-lasting blade.

Robert Herder Grandmoulin Bread Knife
Robert Herder Grandmoulin Bread Knife

 

Lékué Bread Maker Review

 

I bought a very innovative piece of bread baking equipment last week – a Lékué bread maker from Houseology – and just completed my first test run with very impressive results.

Lekue bread maker loaf
Sourdough rye bread baked with the Lékué silicone bread maker

The Lékué bread maker‘s USP is that bakers can weigh, knead and bake in it. While weighing and kneading in the same bowl is by no means unique, what makes this a great product is that you can prove and bake the bread in the bowl as well.

For wet dough and rye breads in particular, this makes baking a lot easier. No more transferring the sticky mixture from bowl to surface to proving basket to tin or baking tray which ultimately means less to wash up and no dough lost in multiple transfers.

Below you can see the Lékué bread maker in action. I baked one of my favourite loaves, 100% rye sourdough bread, with it.

Due to the strong material (platinum silicone) it was no problem to bake at high temperatures (over 200ºC). The maximum recommended temperature is 220ºC but even 240ºC was okay.

The shape of the Lékué bread maker silicone bowl allows steam and air to circulate inside, keeping the dough moist while giving the bread a wonderful golden crust.

Lékué bread maker review results

Lekue bread maker with weighed bread dough ingredients
Weighed bread dough ingredients
Lekue bread maker - mixed dough
Dough ready for proving
Lekue bread maker - proving basket
The folded Lékué bread maker bowl acting as proving basket
Lekue bread maker after proving
Dough ready for baking
Lekue bread maker rye load
The rugby ball shaped Lékué bread loaf
Lekue bread maker bottom of rye loaf
And the bottom of the loaf
Lekue bread maker rye bread halves
The finished loaf showing off its beautiful crumb and even crust
Lekue bread maker rye bread slice
One of the best slices of rye bread I’ve ever had: moist, even-crumbed and surprisingly light

Additional bonus for all travelling bread bakers! The Lékué silicone bread maker (28cm x 28cm x 13cm; 454 g) is easily packed away 🙂

Lékué Silicone Bread Maker Recipes

If you are ready to get started, try some of these sourdough recipes which will all turn out fabulously well in the Lékué bread maker:

Austrian Farmhouse Loaf Recipe (Bauernbrot)

 

If you would like to make a wonderfully wholesome and authentic loaf of Austrian bread, try this Austrian farmhouse loaf (Bauernbrot) recipe.

Bauernbrot Crumb
Freshly baked Bauernbrot with a lovely moist crumb

Great with any winter vegetable soup or Goulash although I love it with any dish (even Thai curries!)

Ingredients (for 2 small loaves)

  • 300g 100% hydration rye sourdough (prepared the day before)
  • 150g fine rye flour
  • 150g strong bread flour
  • 150g plain flour
  • 3g dried yeast
  • 17g salt
  • 8g bread spices
  • 250g buttermilk
  • 100g lukewarm water

How to make it (2 small loaves)

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Knead for 10 mins
  3. Cover and prove for approx.  2 hours
  4. Give the dough another brief knead
  5. Divide into two equal parts and shape into two loaves
  6. Place the loaves on a baking tray lined with baking paper
  7. Cover with a kitchen towel and rest for another 1.5 hours
  8. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  9. Bake for 40 mins at 200°C and for a further 20 mins at 150°C
  10. Cool on a wire rack
Austrian Farmhouse Loaf
Austrian Farmhouse Loaf

If you want to find out more about Austrian cooking, there is no better starting point than “Tante Hertha’s Viennese Kitchen” based on the original notebook and recipe journal of a 1900s Viennese Baroness. It contains over 100 original recipes, all of which have been tested and brought up to date.

Tante Hertha's Viennese Kitchen
Tante Hertha’s Viennese Kitchen

 

Valentine Baking Gift Ideas 2019

 

Are you looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for your loved one? Is your loved one into baking? I have the perfect Valentine baking gift ideas for you!

I love practical gifts, so here are my top picks for your baking-loving Valentine 🙂

And if you are thinking of baking something yourself, there are some excellent heart-shaped essentials to help you bake up a storm, the perfect baking accessories for your Valentine’s Day baking gift.

Heart on a Plate - Emma Marsden

If you are struggling for heart-shaped food recipes… “Heart on a Plate” by Emma Marsden

Gifts for Bread Bakers & Bread Making 2019

 

My passion for bread baking and all things #realbread have had the nice side effect of getting lovely bread related gifts for birthdays and for Christmas. Over the years, I’ve received many great gifts – some educational, some decorative, some unusual, unique and quirky. If you are looking for Christmas gift ideas for the bread baker in your life, this guide to the best gifts for bread bakers and bread baking should be helpful. There are lots of bread making gifts to choose from and here are my top gift ideas for bread bakers.

1. Bread making books

Bread making books are brilliantly inspirational and educational gifts for bread bakers of all levels. Here are my top picks and all-time favourite bread books which have been with me all the way.

Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own
Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own
The Handmade Loaf
The Handmade Loaf: Contemporary Recipes for the Home Baker

2. Clever bread making tools

These bread making gifts are for bakers who are looking to up their bread baking game.

  • A brilliant bread baking tool is the here.
  • One bread baking accessory I cannot recommend highly enough is the La Cloche baking dome, a stoneware baking set with a base and domed lid. Baking with the La Cloche dome will do wonders for the aesthetics of bread loaves, delivering brilliantly crisp crusts and a soft, evenly baked crumb.
  • For those of us with cold kitchens which make proofing bread loaves, and sourdough loaves specifically, a lengthy and sometimes difficult process. Let me introduce the Brod and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer which doubles up as yoghurt maker and slow cooker.
Lékué Silicone Bread Maker
Lékué Silicone Bread Maker
La Cloche baking dome
La Cloche baking dome
Folding Proofer
Brod & Taylor Folding Proofer

3. Bread baking gift sets

This can be a really nice gift idea for budding bread bakers. Put together a bread making kit gift including a mixing bowl, dough scraper, baking cloth and a bread baking book. It makes for a thoughtful and decorative gift to get a newbie baker off to a great start!

Assemble a gift basket for bread bakers:

4. A grain mill for serious bakers

The perfect gift for those serious about bread baking. Grinding flour at home and using fresh flour for bread baking makes a baker’s homemade goods even more flavoursome. Choose a quality and versatile grain mill for the best results!

  • Komo Fidibus Grain Mill
    A medium-sized, electric grain mill from Germany. High-quality, solid beechwood casing, stunning good looks, grinds all grains.
Grain Mill
Komo Fidibus Grain Mill

5. Accessory gifts for bread bakers

Some of the most useful gifts I’ve ever received were bread accessories for storing and serving bread. Here are some practical and decorative ideas for bread accessory gifts.

Wesco bread bin
Wesco bread bin

6. Bread photography

I love taking pictures of everything I bake and this book has helped me advance my bread photography.

Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling
Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling

7. Artisan bread baking courses

A brilliant gift to give! Here are some bread baking courses I can recommend:

8. Homemade Bread Gifts for Bakers

Finally, if you want to give something truly unique, personal and homemade, prepare a sourdough starter, bake a tasty sourdough loaf or bake a homemade Christmas bread gift.

Have fun choosing! I’m sure there are many more brilliant gifts for bread bakers out there, so let me know if you come across something special. I’ll add it to the list 🙂

My Challah Baking Story: The Truth Unveiled

 

Guest post by Mariel Slater

Let me tell the “real story” of the Challah versus Striezel bake-off with Pam.

Pam started baking. She got really into it very quick. She is talking about baking all the time and when we get together with friends she often brings bread. I think great. I can get Pam to easily bake me some challah and she will like it as it will be a new and interesting bread for her to bake and in turn I will get me some challah.

Mariel: I WANT CHALLAH
I WANT CHALLAH

I start by mentioning challah every time she talks about bread (did I mention that she talks about bread a lot?). I say, “Pam make me challah”. I say, “Pam please next time make me some challah.” I say, “Pam would you just get on with the challah making?”

No challah.

Finally Pam says, “Mariel come over and we can make challah together.” Hmmm I think. I am crap at making bread but this might turn out OK. Pam will be there and she will lead on the challah making. I agree.

Pam Facebook-messages me:

Pam's Facebook Message

Note where it says “Obviously this is not a competition!”

I think: Obviously this IS a competition.

Usually cooking and competition, this would be fine. I like to cook but am terrible at baking. I’ve never successfully baked yeast bread except for no-knead bread and quicker no-knead bread (see the pattern?). My bread turns out small and hard, my croissants like small crescent-shaped shortbread cookies and cakes are raw in the middle.

I acquiesce – at least I will get some challah type bread? Maybe with Pam there my challah will turn out ok?

Pam promises this isn’t a competition and I agree. When I arrive at Pam’s she has started her bread already and also started the blog post:

Striezel (Hefezopf) vs. Challah Bake-Off & Recipes

It so obviously is a competition.

Long story short – we bake, it turns out well. My challah is AMAZING. It’s like the challah that I have been thinking about and I am very happy.

Learning – if you want to learn to make bread, make bread with Pam 🙂

Here is the recipe that I used.

Interestingly, both bread recipes are quite similar and both are delicious. In fact I am enjoying a piece of Striezel right now slathered in butter. Yum.

I did it!
I did it!

Our old brick oven

 

This lovely (though derelict and unusable) old brick oven in Upper Austria used to decorate the gardens of our old farmhouse. It was demolished last year after a lifespan of over 100 years (it hadn’t been in use since the 1950s). You can still see the baking chamber made of fireproof brick.

Once, this masonry oven was an important meeting point in the village where people gathered every few weeks to do their baking.

One day a new wood-fired brick oven will bring outdoor baking back into my garden 🙂

Our old brick oven in the gardens of our farmhouse
Our old brick oven in the gardens of our farmhouse in Upper Austria
Our old Brick Oven in Upper Austria
The photographs were taken in 2011 just before it was demolished