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What's the difference between split-top and round top bread, other than the look (caused by the split)? Like does splitting the bread top make it lighter/better crumb, etc?

I see at the supermarket "split-top white" is often cheaper than "round top white" or "sandwich white"

Why would I buy one vs the other?

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  • It’s vaguely more rectangular in cross-section, so maybe for those making grilled cheese with processed cheese slices they’d get better coverage? Or better triangles for people who like cutting their sandwiches that way?
    – Joe
    Sep 17 at 13:44
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Most commercial mass-produced bread is made using the Chorleywood process, which is heavily industrialized, using emulsifiers, enrichment and a highly controlled environment to quickly and cheaply bake bread. It produces the light and soft types of bread most people in the US, UK and Canada (maybe Australia and New Zealand too) are most familiar with.

'Artisan' bread is made using more traditional methods, with at least some of it being done by hand, and time being given for proofing and flavor development. This type of bread often has a good deal of 'oven spring', where the heat of the oven causes a rapid expansion, so bakers slash the bread to allow it room. Without the slash the bread won't be able to expand and will be too tight a texture, or the skin may rupture and ruin the shape of the loaf.

Chorleywood bread can be just about any shape, and doesn't need slashing as it gets very limited oven spring, so the appearance is a matter of marketing. A split top gives the loaf a 'homemade' look to some, and distinguishes those loaves from others on the shelf.

As for why you'd buy one or the other it's a choice between quality, price, convenience and personal preference. I prefer artisan bread (I bake my own regularly) to chorleywood process because I prefer the taste and texture, however it does cost a lot more. I do buy you standard chorleywood stuff as well because it's convenient at times, and I'm not made of money.

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  • Now I wish we had regional tags for answers :) In continental Europe, Chorleywood bread is certainly not the "type of bread most people are familiar with" . While it exists here and is fairly widespread, it is not the "standard" kind of bread.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 17 at 11:44
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    Well, you have a point @rumtscho, I was inferring from the terminology that the poster was from the US, Canada or UK where 3/4 of store bread is made using that process.
    – GdD
    Sep 17 at 11:52
  • Indeed. I added the comment so users from other parts of the world won't be misled, thinking that they are also eating that bread all of the time. But I agree that there is a good chance the OP is indeed buying Chorleywood bread.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 17 at 12:40
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In the case of supermarket bread, probably just esthetics.

But you'd have to check the ingredients or what kind of bread it is actually; maybe one is white flour, the other one whole wheat or multigrain bread or sourdough.

Usually, bakeries will use patterns or shapes to differentiate different kind of bread.

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