Sheila wrote with a question about slicing fresh bread:
Whenever I have made fresh bread, which has been a while, I have never been able to slice it well. It always comes out crooked or in big chunks.
My husband is going to install our old Chambers stove out on the back deck so I can cook/bake without heating up the house. (We live in Texas where it can hit 100 degrees by mid morning!)
I would like to start baking bread again, but was wondering how you slice your bread. Is there a special trick to it?
I have an electric knife, which is the easiest way for me to slice loaves of bread. The knife was a wedding gift, but I think they are fairly inexpensive ($10 perhaps?).
If I'm just slicing a fresh loaf for with dinner, any sharp, thin serrated knife works pretty well, also. If I have two or more loaves (or a huge loaf of garlic bread!) I get out the electric knife and use that. With practice, the electric knife can produce picture-perfect thick or thin slices of bread -- and it's faster, too.
When the bread is really fresh (cooled or slightly cooled, but not yet bagged) the crust tends to produce more crumbs during slicing.
If you don't need the loaf immediately, you can put the (cool) loaf into a bag, tie it shut, and slice it later. This will mean fewer crumbs since the crust will have softened up.
Here is my current fresh-out-of-the-oven routine:
1. Remove pans of bread from the oven and place pans on cooling racks.
2. Immediately grease or butter the tops of the bread (still in pans).
3. Cover bread with a clean towel (or two).
4. After about 5-7 minutes, remove loaves from the pans (Waiting makes the crust softer, a tip I learned from Tanya's blog!).
5. Cover loaves with the towels until completely cool.
6. Slice bread and place loaves into bags and tie shut. Turning loaves on their side for slicing seems easiest for the knife to get through! :)
If you're not using any dough conditioners and you made several loaves of bread, you can put loaves into the freezer as soon as they're cool and sliced. Thaw loaves in the bag (sealed, to keep out condensation) on the counter several hours before using.
What's your fresh-from-the-oven bread routine? I'd love to hear! :)