Many cooks have experienced the frustration of cutting into a fresh loaf of homemade bread, only to have it squish and flatten under the knife. This makes it difficult to make a sandwich or serve a slice of bread with a meal. Using a bread knife can help solve these difficulties.
A bread knife is a somewhat specialized kitchen knife. The blade is usually 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) long and serrated. A serrated edge has several advantages, one of which is that it does not dull as quickly as a flat edge. The biggest benefit, however, is that the little teeth in the blade cut into the bread without flattening it.
The average bread knife will have a somewhat pointed, if blunt tip on the end. Other models, however, may have a rounded end, or an angled tip. Many kitchen knife sets will include this knife, although they are easily purchased separately. A cook may want to look for a moderately priced, high-carbon stainless steel knife, because one made of this metal will not dull as quickly. When it does finally become dull, however, it can be replaced or re-sharpened by an expert. Sharpening is one of the main drawbacks of the serrated edge, and some are nearly impossible to re-sharpen. The same teeth that cut so well into a loaf of bread also require specialized sharpening skills, and it may be necessary to send it back to the manufacturer to be re-sharpened.
A bread knife is usually lighter in weight than most kitchen knives. This is because weight and heft are not necessary for slicing bread. Many cooks recommend the knife be used only for that purpose, and not for cutting any other fruits, vegetables or meats. This will help the serrated edge remain sharp for a longer period of time.
A cook can find a bread knife anywhere kitchen knives are sold, in retail stores or online. They are available in a range of prices, depending on the quality, metal and manufacturer. Most have handles that will match any other kitchen knife set. Cooks who are bread makers will find it an indispensable kitchen tool.