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Suppose I have a round loaf of bread, like the one in this picture. I want to eat it over multiple days, a portion each meal.

What is the best way to cut it into slices to preserve freshness? Parallel slices like in that picture? Cutting it radially like a cake? Or maybe something different?

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    Why would you cut it all at once, though? Quite apart from preserving freshness, my granny taught me long ago not only not to cut a loaf until meal-time but not even to cut a slice until after buttering it. The fact that I've never been able to do that as well as could, I ascribe to her greater skill, not to any failing in the method. Apr 21 at 20:45
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    @R I never said I want to cut it all at once. I agree with you that the best way is cutting each slice just before eating it. Still, there are different ways to cut it. Apr 21 at 21:31
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    We usually eat such (dense rye) loaves over a week or so and start from one end, cutting one slice when needed as in the picture. In the meanwhile, we keep the bread in a linen bag at room temperature and it never gets unbearably dry or moldy. Apr 22 at 9:38
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    The best way to keep bread fresh is to freeze it. After my bread is cooled from baking, I slice the whole thing, put it in a bag and freeze it. When I want to eat it, I use the toaster.
    – aswine
    Apr 22 at 14:03

2 Answers 2

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Personally, I find the best way to keep it fresh is to cut from the center and push the two halves together. I usually use this technique when eating something like banana bread, as I don’t eat too much fresh baked regular bread. The main downside is that you’re left with two ends of a loaf, which people often dislike, rather than only having one end at a time.

Related to this is the technique of placing the cut end of the loaf down on the cutting board to limit airflow, so it’ll dry out more slowly. The downside there is that bread tends to be less stable when stood on end.

With both techniques, the exterior does end up drying out a bit, but it’s certainly more resistant (and more acceptable) than the interior drying out.

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    Note that this also opens two surfaces for drying out (though they're pressed against each other so they dry out less), compared to only one when taking away one slice at a time. Personally I tend to just accept that the first slice will be a bit dry, or - if I ate no bread for a few days at a time - don't eat the too-dry slice, keeping it as "lid" to prevent anything further in from drying out.
    – Syndic
    Apr 22 at 6:40
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    I've heard that for a German Stollen (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stollen) one should/ traditionally does use the cutting technique described in your first paragraph.
    – quarague
    Apr 22 at 7:35
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    @Syndic I’m generally only taking a slice at a time, so unless I accept that every slice I eat is going to be dry, I tend to use this method. I didn’t, at one point, but once someone mentioned it to me I tried it and found that it was better for me. Similar to your method with one slice acting as a “lid”, I’m basically using the other half as the lid. It’s important to have the two sides meet flush in the center, as having a gap defeats the purpose. Definitely teaches you to make more clean & vertical cuts Apr 22 at 7:42
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    @fyrepenguin I'll test it out myself on the next loaf I start, if both sides dry out notably less I might switch to it also.
    – Syndic
    Apr 22 at 7:46
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My wife bakes sourdough bread and keeps us supplied remarkably well.

That said we just toss a half loaf in the fridge and cut off what we need/want as desired.

The other half goes in the freezer.

Some might consider refrigerating bread (and freezing...) heresy but the bread is perfectly cromulent after a week in the fridge or freezer then fridge for a week.

YMMV but you may want to find a system that works best for you, via the 'ol trial and error method.

I'm not a professional baker and neither is my wife so take all this with a grain of salt... and maybe a little butter...

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  • Thanks! This is definitely good advice, but in this question I was focusing more on the shape of the cut. Once you slice the loaf in half, how do you make the next cuts? Do you cut parallel to the first halving cut? Perpendicular? Something else? Apr 21 at 8:08
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    Well we just slice even straight cuts off the loaf, and when done, back in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge. And that leaves us with two "heels" (or end pieces) which are my favorite part of the loaf. But I would imagine that any way you want to cut it would be fine. Apr 21 at 13:23
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    Refrigerating bread is usually not recommended because starch retrogradation happens quicker at fridge temperatures. All else being equal, refrigerated bread goes stale faster, as retrogradation is a significant component of staling. It's not too much of an issue if you plan on re-heating the bread (e.g. toasting), as that can reverse the process. The only benefit of refrigeration is that is slows down mold growth. (Note that retrogradation doesn't really happen at freezer temperatures.)
    – R.M.
    Apr 22 at 0:16

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