There are all sorts of different types of bread, and it can be confusing to know which one to use for what. Today we’re going to talk about the difference between split-top and round-top bread. Most people are familiar with round-top bread – it’s the kind that comes in a loaf at the grocery store. But what is split-top bread? And why would you want to use it instead of round-top?
Split-Top Bread vs. Round-Top Bread
The main difference between split-top and round-top bread is that split-top bread has a long cut down the middle of the top. As you can probably guess from the name, round-top bread is shaped in an oval/circle, while split-top bread is more of a rectangle with a slit down the middle. The cut makes a difference in how the bread bakes and rises.
Why Does Split-Top Bread Have A Cut?
Bakers have long been cutting the tops of their bread for two reasons – to allow the bread to rise evenly and to prevent it from developing a hard crust.
The cut is applied to the bread at the rising stage before the bread is thrown into the oven. This is because the cut will allow the rising bread to release some air and the top of the bread will not become as large.
This can be convenient for a number of reasons. First, it means that the bread will not become as hard on the top. Some people like the crisp, hardtop to give the bread some texture but others complain about the bread cutting the roof of their mouth.
Second, it allows the baker to put more filling in the bread without fear of it spilling out the sides. If the bread doesn’t have a cut where the air can release, it will continue to rise until eventually, it may overfill the pan it sits in.
Finally, it makes for a more aesthetically pleasing loaf of bread. With a cut through the top the bread has a natural symmetry that is pleasing to the eye.
Why Is Round-Top Bread Uncut?
Not all bread has a slice through the middle and that’s because some people prefer the crusty top. While a split-top loaf will have a softer crust, round-top bread will have the signature hardtop that many people love.
The hard top gives the bread a lot more texture when eating and can pair well with softer ingredients that often go inside the bread. It can also be great for dipping into soups because it doesn’t break down as fast as soft bread.
Another reason for the round-top is that it’s seen as more traditional. When bread was first being made, bakers didn’t know about the benefits of cutting the top and so, all bread was made with a round top.
Nowadays, it’s more of a personal preference as to which type of bread you want to use. It really comes down to what you’ll be using the bread for and what kind of texture and flavor you prefer.
When Did Split Top Bread Start?
It wasn’t until around the 1950s that split-top bread became popular in the United States. It’s thought that this is because of the development of new baking pans that allowed for a more even bake.
Before this, bread was often baked in cast iron pans which would lead to uneven cooking. The bottom and sides of the bread would be overcooked while the top remained doughy.
The new pans allowed for a more even bake and so, bakers could finally cut the top of the bread without worrying about it being undercooked. This is when split-top bread started to become popular in bakeries across America.
The newer pans also mean that the bread doesn’t have as much room in which to grow while rising. Since there was limited room, bakers needed to find a way to fit the rising bread inside the new pans, and cutting the top allowed more control over the size the bread grew into.
Is There A Taste Difference Between Split-Top Bread and Round-Top Bread?
You could take the exact same kind of grain bread and split one top while leaving the other whole and there would be no discernible taste difference. The main difference in flavor is going to come from the type of bread you use, not how it’s cut.
That being said, some people do think that split-top bread has a softer crust because the top of the loaf isn’t as hard as with round-top bread. The crust on round-top bread is going to be crispier because it’s had more time to cook and harden in the oven.
So, if you’re looking for a softer crust then split-top bread might be the way to go but if you prefer a crispy top, then round-top is better.
Round top bread won’t always be as dense as split top bread because the round top has more room to grow into it becomes slightly lighter with more ventilation holes throughout.
Split-top bread on the other hand will let lots of steam and air release, which causes it to stay at a smaller size. The more compact size means you’ll have slightly denser bread than with a round top.
Frequently Asked Questions About Split-Top Bread vs. Round-Top Bread
Is split-top bread or round-top bread best for sandwiches?
Which bread you use for sandwiches will depend entirely on your personal preference. Some people like a softer crust while others prefer a crispy top. It also depends on what kind of filling you’ll be using as some fillings go better with one type of bread over the other.
Do split-top bread and round-top bread cook in the same amount of time?
Both the split-top and round-top bread will cook in the same amount of time. Just because the split-top has a cut in the top that releases air, the doughy inside will still need to cook for the same time and at roughly the same temperature.
Conclusion About Split-Top Bread vs. Round-Top Bread
Other than a softer or harder crust, there really aren’t many differences between split top and round top bread. It comes down to personal preference as to which kind you want to use.
If you’re looking for a more traditional option, then round top is probably the way to go. However, if you prefer a softer crust, then split top is better. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you’ll be using the bread for and what kind of texture and flavor you prefer.