I need an excellent bread knife

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I have started to make my own bread.  That being said, I was using my butcher block, generic, picked up on a garage sale, bread knife to try and cut the bread and it was shredding and squishing it.  My son, who is in chef school, let me use his knife and the bread cut like butter.  He does not want me taking his knife so I am looking to invest in a really good bread knife.  I have read in some reviews on this forum that the first knives they get in chef school can be of inferior quality and that they will receive better ones as they progress, so I am not sure I want to buy the same knife he has.  I would like something that will be used several times a week to cut full loves of soft bread with a crisp crust and will hopefully last a lifetime.  Thank you for your time.
 
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Welcome to Cheftalk, Jennifer.

You can't go wrong with the LamsonSharp. It does the job, is seemingly industructible, and affordible.

I happen to have the rosewood version, but there are several handle choices.

Been using mine heavily (several loaves weekly) for three years now, and it seems to be as sharp now as when it was brand new.
 
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There are a lot of good, inexpensive choices for bread/cake/pastry knives.  You don't need a knife that's easily sharpened, since it's a knife which needs very infrequent sharpening, like every couple of years at most -- the only knife in your "core set" which you're better off sending out for sharpening.  By the way, a decent bread knife should last decades.

An 8" Forschner Rosewood is one excellent choice.  They make what's basically the same knife in a 10" length as well.  To my mind the 10" length is a little more versatile for cutting boules and splitting cakes, but you may prefer something shorter.

If you really want the best possible bread/cake knife, it's going to cost you significantly more.  The MAC Superior 10.5" knife is as good as it gets.

BDL
 
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Jennifer,

I bake bread also and have two knives:

The first is a Wusthof 8" bread knife that came with a set that I bought years ago. It is similar to this one:


But I don't use the Wufhof that often. Instead, I use my $25 Victorinox 10.25" knife:

http://www.nwcutlery.com/product.cgi?group=11144&product=11145

I agree with BDL that you want a longer bread knife - that's why I find the $25 Victornox to be easier to use than the $80 Wusthof. The longer the knife, the less back-and-forth you need to do to get through the loaf.

My understanding is that the Victornox knives with the rosewood handles are exactly the same knives as those with the black handles - it is just the handles that differ.

If there is a good good restaurant supply or cutlery store in your area, go see these knives in person. It is always a good idea to feel these in your hand before you make a decision.

If you look at the Victornox knife that BLD linked to and the one I liked to, you'll see that the shape of the blade is slightly different. Just about every company makes a bread knife in both shapes. I'm not entirely sure what you call the two different shapes or exactly what function each serves. My impression, though, is that it is a little easier to get through a tough crust with the wider blade. I think the wider blade may also make it a little easier to cut through a cake width-wise.
 
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The longer the knife, the less back-and-forth you need to do to get through the loaf.

That's certainly true!

Something else that newbies fail to realize is that some bread knives only cut on the forward or backward movement while others cut in both directions. This can make a difference in how efficient one finds a bread knife to be.
 
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The most popular bread knives that we sell to bakeries are the Victorinox 40547 10" curved, wide blade serrated slicer with the fibrox handle and the 46547 which has the wide 10" blade but has Microban protection added to the handle to reduce the growth of bacteria and mold--both are around $24 and feature stamped blades.  The F. Dick Sanigrip 10" blade utility is real popular.  It also features a wide curved blade and has antimicrobial protection to the handle as well--it sells at $24 as well (model 8615126).  The forged Mundial lines are gaining in popularity as well due to the fact that you can purchase forged bread knives for between $17 and $31 at our store.  Mundial is our top selling brand, mostly because we deal with commercial accounts, but they are really gaining popularity with home users and we have seen a big increase in purchases of Mundial forged knives from home users--this could be due to people looking for a lower price point in their cutlery.  I would recommend trying a lower priced stamped blade bread knife in the 8 to 10 inch range--since we get more people wanting to upgrade from a 7" to a 10" wide blade, because most find the 7" straight blades to be too short.  I would also suggest a wide blade bread knife--since wide blades keep soft product together when slicing and helps reduce break overs.  The wide blade is also better for cakes and they work well for slicing smoked meats.  The best way to keep the knife working well for many years is take care of the knife--hand wash it, don't cut household materials with it (had a customer use his Victorinox bread knife to cut garden hoses and saw wood dowels) and store in a place where the edge won't get banged around.

Hope this helped.

D. Clay
 
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but has Microban protection added to the handle to reduce the growth of bacteria and mold

Could you expand on this idea? Other than as a marketing ploy, I don't see any purpose to it. But I've been near-sighted before.

Thanks.
 
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Companies are beginning to add antimicrobial protection to their products for many reason--and it just isn't knife handles.  In the meat processing environment you see it added to the poly cutting boards, the meat belts that move product around the plant, in edible food tubs, and even some gloves.  Mundial adds protection to all of their food service and meat processing knives.  You can use chemicals such as what Victorinox and Mundial does, or metal ions that destroy the bacteria cells--such as what F. Dick does.  As stated above there are a couple of reasons, that are similar.  First, in any food processing environment (some are worse than others) there are bacteria, and even though you think areas are clean there is a good chance that some bacteria is present.  Some aren't harmful, but others can be deadly.  By adding another layer of protection to your food handling surfaces you reduce the chances of having growth--especially in crevices and cut areas of food contact surfaces.  If you are cutting meat and don't perform proper sanitation, or clean improperly you can develop bacteria biofilms (biofilms are actually a leading cause of human infections) which once formed become difficult to remove and resist sanitizers, but will break off bacteria cells during the course of the day.  With antimicrobial added to food contact surfaces or surfaces that will contact the hand that will contact the food, you are providing another layer of protection.  Second reason, is that many processing plants and even some restaurants are adding to their HACCP and SSOP plans that to help reduce the growth of bacteria, they will use knives and food contact surfaces that have antimicrobial agents.  During sampling by meat processing plants by the plant's QA personnel they will always at some point include the knife handles in their sampling to help identify potential areas of cross contamination.  Sometimes these handles come back with high counts of e coli or salmonella.  The real concern is also the textured areas of the knife handles or the area where the blade comes into contact with the handle, because these are prime areas for bacteria to hide.  I have seen tests performed where two surfaces were contaminated with bacteria, one surface didn't have any antimicrobial protection and one did, and you could see a real difference--with the protected surface having very low and acceptable levels of the bacteria, while the other surface had spread.  These new antimicrobials added to food and non-food contact surfaces is becoming the norm in the processing and food service industries.  Anyway, that is the quick and simple version.  People just have to remember that just because a surface looks clean doesn't mean it is--I have seen thousands of swab tests of food surfaces that prove the point.  

Thanks for bringing this topic up and reading my post.

D. Clay
 
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I have a Sabatier bread knife that was bought as a wedding present, more years ago than I care to remember.

It's sharp, it cuts true and I like the heft.

Not microbial or anything similar as it is too old, but a great bread knife!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/licklips.gif
 
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I have the MAc Superior and love it.

Prior to that my favorite was the Wusthof Super Slicer.

On the side note, I've heard that all of the anti-bacterial/antimicrobial products are doing no more than creating tougher strains of bacteria/microbes.
 
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I'm using a Masahiro and I think it's by far the best bread knife I've ever owned. Having said that it was expensive. The other bread knife I like is the Guede or perhaps the Viking since it is made by Guede with out the fancy handle and sells at a lower price point.

Overall I think the best suggestion by a fair margin for the average enthusiast is the Mac. Just make sure you buy the larger one as they have two. I'm not sure of the models any longer but I'm confident that if you follow BDL's advice you won't go wrong there.
 
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i have a wusthof classic that can't be beat. it didn't come in a set, though. can't remember what i paid - not cheap - but it's lasted and stayed sharp. i think cook's illustrated gave it top honors, too.
 
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i have a wusthof classic that can't be beat. it didn't come in a set, though. can't remember what i paid - not cheap - but it's lasted and stayed sharp. i think cook's illustrated gave it top honors, too.
Nope, that honour goes to Victorinox, a.k.a Forschner.
 
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Cook's Illustrated knife reviews sometimes hit the nail on the heat but they have a an unfortunate tendency to smash their thumbs pretty frequently.

One important aspect of their bread knife comparo was cutting tomatoes.  Go figure.

BDL
 
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Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken  
Hm, could it be there are no "sharp knives" to slice tomatoes so they have to use a serrated knife? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
Scary, isn't it?

Almost as scary, and probably completely true, is the idea that they skew their reviews for people who do use a serrated knife for tomatoes for exactly the reason you proposed.

BDL
 
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Get a serrated knife with an offset handle that feels good in your hand ... less banging of the knuckles with the offset handle.

You can probably get one at a used restaurant supply store.
 
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There are a lot of good, inexpensive choices for bread/cake/pastry knives.  You don't need a knife that's easily sharpened, since it's a knife which needs very infrequent sharpening, like every couple of years at most -- the only knife in your "core set" which you're better off sending out for sharpening.  By the way, a decent bread knife should last decades.

An 8" Forschner Rosewood is one excellent choice.  They make what's basically the same knife in a 10" length as well.  To my mind the 10" length is a little more versatile for cutting boules and splitting cakes, but you may prefer something shorter.

If you really want the best possible bread/cake knife, it's going to cost you significantly more.  The MAC Superior 10.5" knife is as good as it gets.

BDL
I have to say this is a fantastic knife. I bought it a little while ago and am amazed at how well it cuts, handles, sharpness, etc.  I love it 
 
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