There’s a dizzying amount of bread knives on the market, which can make it difficult to buy a new one. This is especially true if you’re buying your knife online because you can’t hold it in your hand or test the flexibility of the blade. Most people rely on the reputation of well-known cutlery brands to help them find a good quality bread knife, and this is generally a smart idea.
When it comes to bread knives, there are two names that every chef recommends: Wusthof and Victorinox. Wusthof knives are made in Germany, while Victorinox knives are made in Switzerland. Both countries have a reputation for producing some of the best knives – period.
I’ve tried other bread knives, some from well-known brands and others from no-name brands. Yet, I keep coming back to my Victorinox and Wusthof knives. They get the job done, and they do it so well.
While Victorinox offers an 8-inch bread knife, I personally own the 10.25 inch. It’s ideal for cutting wide loaves of bread, like boule, but it works great for smaller loaves too.
By taking just one good look at this knife, you can see how well it’s made. The scalloped edges run from the base of the blade to the tip. The scallops are not too shallow, but not too deep and just the right thickness. With lower quality knives, the first inch or so of the blade is straight, which can make it difficult to cut through a large loaf of bread.
I’m not usually particular about the handle of a knife, but I must say that the Fibrox handles are comfortable to use. It’s ergonomically designed, slip resistant (really important), textured and well-balanced. You also have the option of choosing between a classic black (my favorite) or white handle. The knife itself is easy to clean, and it came with a lifetime warranty.
Wusthof has a reputation for being one of the best cutlery manufacturers in the world. In fact, their classic bread knife was recommended in Cooks Illustrated as one of the best bread knives on the market. The company has been in business since 1814, and they offer a collection of over 350 knives.
Unlike the Victorinox, the Wusthof blade is sturdy and not quite as flexible. To be perfectly honest, this knife cuts through any type of bread like a hot knife through butter. I’ve even used this knife to cut bread fresh out of the oven, and the slices were perfect. Anyone who bakes their own bread knows that if you try to cut the loaf right away, you usually wind up with a squished ball of bread. With this knife, I can cut the bread seconds after it comes out of the oven without any issues.
The handle of this knife is nothing to write home about. It’s a triple-riveted, full-tang handle that many classic knives have. But it does give the knife great balance and strength. This knife feels good in your hand, and you can tell that it’s a well-made cutlery tool.
The knife is the most essential kitchen gadget of all, yet people still buy those 25-in-one Ikea knife blocks. I called up Norman Weinstein, knife guru at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education, to get some straight talk on knives.
So you’ve bought a new set of 10-inch forged chef’s knife. How do you keep it in tip-top condition? There’s nothing more dangerous than a dull knife, after all—not only do dull knives tend to slip more easily, but they require more force to cut through things. More force equals more danger. Chef Weinstein’s tips:
Use a honing steel: A honing steel, which is that long cylindrical piece of metal all too often mistaken for a sharpener, is actually used to realign your knife’s blade. Use it “practically every time you use your straight-edge knife,” says Weinstein. “It should only take about 15 seconds, done properly.” The key is to anchor the steel perpendicular to your countertop, and slice both sides of the knife across it at a 22-degree angle.
Avoid the dishwasher: Knives and cutting boards alike should be cleaned in the same way. Immediately after use, clean with soap, hot water and a non-abrasive scrubber (sponges are fine here). Never stick a good knife in the dishwasher: The force of the water can dull the blade, and it’s never a good idea to have an extremely sharp pointy object rattling around a dishwasher. Knife handles could potentially warp, too, because of the heat.
Take your knives to a professional sharpener: Don’t use a home sharpening machine unless you feel your knife has wronged you in some way and must be punished. Send your knives away to a professional sharpener about once a year to have your blade re-shaped.
While hefting a cook’s knife with a 10-inch blade can take a bit of practice, I recommend this size for everyone except those who have small hands. I started collecting Wusthof Trident Classic knives for home use twenty years ago, and this 10-inch Cook’s Knife was my first purchase from this excellent line. I like the look and feel of traditional, triple-riveted, full tang high-carbon steel cutlery, which is why I have chosen the Classic line. (A comparable line would be J.A. Henckels Pro-S.) I use a honing steel on it often, and sharpen it myself with a Chef’s Choice 3-Stage Diamond Hone Professional Sharpener. Also, I have always hand-washed and dried it. After lots of use, it still holds a keen edge.
I am NOT a fan of buying sets of knives. Many times one our two knives are worthwhile while the remainder are just to be tolerated. Buying one knife at a time might be more expensive in the long run, but you will ALWAYS get exactly what you want. That said, I’ve owned Wusthof knives longer than I’ve been in the culinary business, and that’s a long while.
These are knives you buy once and only replace if stolen or lost. You take care of them, they’ll take care of you. By that I mean:
– Don’t cut on glass,
– Always sash by hand,
– Take it to a steel before each use,
– Sharpen by hand,
– And, NEVER, ever loan it out. (Nobody will take care of your knives better than you.)
Wusthof Classics are classics. I’ve had some for more than 30 years and they are the ONLY knives I give out as presents. By CJs Pirate
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