You've baked a beautiful loaf of sourdough bread and the time has come to cut into it - but your slices are wonky and uneven.
Want to know how to slice sourdough bread perfectly every single time?
Slicing sourdough bread (and any crusty artisan bread) is easier than you might think - as long as you have the right equipment and technique.
Slicing bread, and in particular sourdough bread, can be a bit tricky, especially if your loaf is very crusty.
But I've put together a few pointers to get your sourdough slices looking pretty as a picture.
Tips For Cutting Sourdough Bread
In order to cut sourdough bread evenly, without damaging crust or crumb, you'll need to:
- Allow sourdough to cool to room temperature before you cut it
- Use the right knife (a serrated bread knife is best)
- Use a bread slicing guide for perfectly even slices
- Let the bread knife do all the work for you (use it like a saw).
- Have patience and don't be tempted to cut into hot sourdough bread!
Ideally, you want even slices that maintain the texture of the crumb and crust without any damage.
Allow Sourdough To Cool Properly BEFORE you cut into it
One of the hardest things about baking sourdough, or any crusty bread, is waiting enough time for the bread to cool properly before you slice it.
My rule of thumb is always wait at least 2 hours before you slice into it.
However, this really isn't enough time for most loaves of sourdough - and in fact - is one of the reasons that sourdough bread is often hard to slice.
Sourdough takes a lot longer to cool down than other bread and even longer if it's made from wholegrains.
Did you know that if you make your sourdough with rye flour (even if it's only half rye) it will take up to 24 hours to cool down fully?
That's because rye flour maintains moisture for a lot longer than other flours. Crazy right?
A "regular" sourdough made from white flour could take as long as 8 hours to fully cool down and come to room temperature.
As a general rule, I wait at least 4 to 6 hours. Most of the time, I will bake before I go to bed and then allow it to cool on the counter overnight.
This allows plenty of time for the cooking process to be completed and stops your loaf of sourdough from collapsing.
Room Temperature Sourdough Is Easier To Cut
The reason you need to wait for sourdough bread to completely cool before you cut into it is that the bread continues to cook while it cools down.
When the bread is still cooling, there is water trapped inside that needs to move outwards towards the crust, enabling the bread to dry out.
If you cut it too early, while it's still warm, you'll get a doughy, gummy texture because the bread is still "wet".
This will also make it harder to cut because the bread inside will be sticky and it will stick to the knife.
There is a lot of steam and moisture trapped inside that lovely crusty and if you cut it too early, all of that steam and moisture escapes all at once, meaning your bread will actually dry out faster and get stale quicker.
No wants dried out sourdough, right?
Use The Right Knife
In order to slice sourdough evenly, you need to choose the right knife for the job.
A bread knife has a long serrated blade that is designed to cut through hard crust, while keeping the fluffy bread inside intact.
It's worth buying a good bread knife specifically for your sourdough to guarantee smooth, even slices.
You don't have to spend a fortune - you can get a great knife for under $30!
A serrated bread knife with more widely spaced teeth will generally perform better. It needs to be at least 9, if not 10 inches in length minimum.
Check out my guide to the best bread knife for sourdough here.
How To Slice Sourdough Bread Perfectly
When slicing into your completely cooled sourdough bread, it's important to adopt the correct technique.
The easiest way to explain the correct technique is to use the bread knife like a saw when cutting into your sourdough.
You need to let the knife do the work.
Don't press into the bread because you will damage the crust and squish the lovely fluffy inside.
Pressing down on the bread will also result in raggedy, uneven slices. Use the knife like a saw, back and fourth all the way through until the base of the bread is cut.
The right knife, with a long serrated blade, really does make it easy.
Here's how to slice sourdough bread:
- Place your sourdough bread onto a suitably sized wooden bread board. You can place a dish towel underneath the board if you want to.
- If you're right handed, place your left hand gently on the loaf of sourdough to hold it securely in place. Don't push down on the bread.
- Gently use a sawing motion with the bread knife to start cutting a slice. Don't push down on the sourdough at all - let the bread knife do the work!
- If the bread is very hard and crusty, use the knife to make a small groove so that you have a guide to use.
- Saw back and forth as the knife moves through the bread.
- Repeat the process until all of the bread is sliced.
Use A Bread Slicing Guide
If you really don't think you can slice your sourdough bread free hand, you can buy a bread slicing guide.
They are pretty handy and you can use them for all types of bread. They are particularly handy if don't have a steady hand.
Some of them even have crumb catchers underneath which is pretty cool!
Manual or Electric Bread Slicers
If you want the ultimate in even sourdough slices, then you may consider getting either a manual or electric slicer.
This Zassenhaus Bread Slicing Machine is the epitome of bread slicers and will not only have you looking like an absolute pro in your kitchen, it will also reward you with perfectly sliced sourdough.
It's one to put on your Christmas list!
If you'd prefer something electric, this electric food slicer will cater for your needs.
Patience Really Is The Key To Good Sourdough Bread
This information further proves that patience really is the key to good sourdough, right?
Next time you bake a loaf of sourdough, let it cool down to room temperature and leave it longer than you normally would and see if it makes a difference to slicing it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ideally, you should wait around 4 to 6 hours before you slice into sourdough bread. When you first take the bread out of the oven, it's still cooking. As it cools, the steam trapped inside will start to move outwards to the crust. Cutting the sourdough too soon will stop this process and result into gummy, wet bread.
Yes you can ... but you'll have much better bread if you wait! Sourdough continues to cook when you take it out of the oven. It will not be ready to cut until it comes to room temperature.
The correct terminology for cutting sourdough bread before baking is "scoring". Scoring is done with a sharp razor or bread lame. Scoring is necessary to ensure that the bread opens up correctly in the oven. If you do not cut sourdough bread before placing it in the oven it will split at the weakest point.
A chef's knife does not have a serrated blade so will damage the crumb and crust of your sourdough bread. You will not be able to cut nice even slices with a Chef's knife and so a bread knife with pointed serrations is recommended.
In most instances, yes. But before you use a deli slicer, you'll need to check the manufacturer's guide. If it's suitable to slice sourdough bread, it will be listed in the manual. This Cusimax 7.5" Electric Blade Food Slicer is a deli slicer that can cut sourdough bread.
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy these ideas:
- Learn about the best flour to use for sourdough bread.