If you’ve ever wondered how to cut sourdough bread to get that bakery perfect slice, this post is for you! With a hard crust and soft crumb, cutting into a sourdough boule is not as easy as it looks. I’ll walk you through my favorite tips and tools for success.
You spend hours making homemade sourdough bread. Your tastebuds can’t wait for that first slice.
Then, you cut into it, only to struggle and end up with messy slices of your sourdough loaf. Oof.
Sourdough baking is complicated enough. Cutting into your sourdough loaves should not be what causes everything to go wrong. The good news is that there are some tried and true tricks of the trade when it comes to cutting your loaf of bread.
How To Cut Sourdough Bread
Step 1: Let it cool thoroughly
The first step of cutting the perfect slice of fresh bread may be the hardest – letting it cool all the way.
It can be tempting to just cut right into your loaf to take that first bite. The key here, though, is a lot of patience. Ideally, sourdough bread should be cooled to room temperature before you cut into it. This can take a few hours, and even up to overnight.
So, why is this so important?
Moisture is key in creating delicious sourdough like professional bakers. After the boule is out of the oven, there is still a lot of steam trapped inside and that beautiful airy crumb is not quite at its peak yet.
So, if you cut into it too soon, you end up with what most call a gummy, wet texture. Your bread needs time to cool and dry outside of the dutch oven for the ultimate texture and easiest slicing.
If I am not in a hurry, I’ll bake my bread in the evening and let it cool overnight. Then, you get the perfect slice first thing in the morning for that avocado toast!
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Step 2: Find the right tool
Once you are ready to cut into your loaf, you’ll want to have the right tool.
I’ve been using the same bread knife for years now. For this post, though, I thought I’d order a few different bread knives to see if I could find the best one for a crusty loaf of homemade bread.
Keep in mind that not just any old knife will work. A serrated knife, specifically, is a must to cut through the hard crust of sourdough. Anything else will make for a bit of a challenge in my experience.
Here are a few of the knives I experimented with:
- The Mercer Culinary M23210 Millennia Black Handle, 10-Inch Wide Wavy Edge, Bread Knife: This knife was the clear winner for me. It has wider teeth than my old bread knife. So, it makes it way easier on crusty loaves. You can find this knife here.
- The Bow Knife: I’ve seen a lot of sourdough bakers using a bow knife to cut their boules, bagels, and more. So, I thought I would try it, too. While it did cut nicely and allowed me to cut nice even slices, I did not find it as easy to use as the Mercy Culinary knife. If you are looking for a bow knife, here is the one I tried.
- An electric knife: I’ve used electric knives in the past, and they can be very effective. If you have arthritis or issues with hand or wrist pain, this can be a great option. Here is the one I recommend. For me personally, I stick to using a regular old bread knife.
Of course, there are probably hundreds of different bread knives out there. As long as it is sharp and serrated, you should be good to go!
Step 3: Cut it in half first
I have found this to be the easiest way to cut sourdough.
First, cut your boule in half. While this may seem counterintuitive, it helps you get more even slices, which is especially nice if you plan to use your bread for sandwiches.
Once cut in half, take one half of your bread and put the flat or cut-side down on your cutting board. This gives you a nice flat sturdy surface to cut.
Begin to slice into your loaf starting at the short end.
It may seem like this would give you smaller pieces, but I have found slicing this way has given me bread that is plenty wide for sandwiches. This method has always produced the best results for me.
Step 4: Use a sawing motion
Sourdough is not easy to cut, but you still want to be gentle. This is where a little patience comes in again. The best way to cut your loaf is to use a sawing motion.
If you have a good knife – one with a long enough blade that is sharp and serrated – it should be able to do most of the work. There should not be a need to push harshly into the loaf with the knife or with the hand holding on to the other end.
More tips for slicing sourdough bread
- Use a sturdy cutting board. A cutting board that keeps moving as you try to slice into your bread can be dangerous – both for your perfect slice and your fingers! You can always put something underneath the cutting board to keep it from sliding if necessary, such as a damp towel.
- You do not have to spend a fortune on a bread knife. There are a lot of affordable options out there that work great!
- Patience and practice are key. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.
How to cut sourdough before baking
When you cut into sourdough bread before it is baked, it is referred to as scoring.
Whether or not you score your sourdough boule, the steam inside is going to find a way to escape. We score so we can create a controlled cut on top of the dough in order to get a beautiful loaf.
You can also use scoring to create designs on your bread dough. This is not a necessary step, but it can be a fun creative outlet. Plus, you’ll be sure to impress your family and guests alike once you get this down.
For scoring, keep in mind that a sharp knife is not the best tool. Using a razor blade or lame is the easiest and best way to score your sourdough loaf.
Sourdough is known for having a hard crust and soft interior. This can make it a bit tricky to cut. If it is extra difficult and you notice your bread sticking to your knife, you likely cut into it a little too soon. Make sure it cools completely before slicing.
Sourdough should be cooled all the way to room temperature before you slice into it. This can take a few hours and even up to overnight.
The best way I’ve found to cut into a sourdough boule is by cutting it in half first. Place the cut-side down on the cutting board and then cut slices from the short end. It makes for perfect slices for sandwiches and toast.