The Basics of Bread + Butter

October 14, 2014

Over at Provisions, we're all about collections of beautiful, useful products to help make the most of good food -- and we don't want you to miss out on the fun.

Today: Bread and butter is the ultimate (and simplest) comfort food.


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We could live on bread and butter for days on end. But since we are responsible adults, we make ourselves eat our vegetables and our fruit.

If you, like us, believe in the marriage of bread and butter, then you’ll understand that such a simple pairing demands high-quality ingredients. Our preference? A lightly toasted, tangy sourdough slice spread thickly with soft, salted butter. Here are some suggestions to make yours even better: 


Try making seedy bread with spent grains, and then wrapping your leftovers in beeswax Bee's Wrap. The heat of your hands warms the wax so it conforms to any shape (heel of bread, whole loaf, baguette). That means it keeps bread fresher longer than any other method -- and we're not the only fans. Bee's Wrap is one of our most popular products of all time in our Provisions shop. It's so popular that we stocked it in bigger sizes, baguette shapes, and stripes!


Or, instead of putting butter on your bread, put it in your bread and make challah -- a bread so buttery you don't need more on top. (Or do you?) To slice delicate breads like a challah or ciabatta, you need a good bread knife. This serrated Wusthof one is a classic, and it's on our list of top 10 kitchen essentials.

More: Everything you need to know about butter.


Speaking of butter, it's much easier to scoop and spread if it's at room temperature. We keep some on hand in a butter keeper -- this ceramic one uses a French country technique of adding water to the base to create an airtight seal, both protecting and softening the butter. 

To apply an even layer, use a knife with a broad blade (this is also a good idea for making PB&Js and spreading mayonnaise on sandwiches). The walnut-handled knife pictured above is handcrafted by R. Murphy, a Boston knifemaker whose experience making top quality kitchen knives dates back to the 1850s.


Tell us, what toppings do you prefer on your bread? Butter? Jam? Tahini? We want to know!

Photos by James Ransom

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Carol Bryson
    Carol Bryson
  • KarenLyons
  • Sandra
  • AntoniaJames
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Carol B. December 28, 2014
Butter! Butter! Butter! Heaven on freshly baked bread!
KarenLyons October 15, 2014
Gee, I never knew that butter is easier to spread if it's at room temperature. And cutting bread with a "bread" knife? I learn something new every day. Oh, wait... I almost forgot: this is just another article touting Food52's Provisions. Silly me.
AntoniaJames October 15, 2014
With the demands of the business model (even more so now, with the infusion of investor money and the need to drive revenues up to enable the "exit" they seek) the editorial focus has indeed changed quite a bit. We seem to be seeing a lot more "articles" contributed by interns who have done little more than re-purposed existing content. (And have you noticed that we can no longer browse new recipes by ordinary community members?)
That said, we don't pay to use this site. It's a business and they have to find their revenue somewhere. I'm totally sympathetic to your comment, though; the increasing percentage of content of no value to experienced cooks is dismaying. Still, I'm seeking to understand before seeking to be understood. ;o)
Posie (. October 16, 2014
AntoniaJames, I really appreciate your thoughtful response, and also that you are candid about feedback. As a writer here, it matters a lot to me that what we talk about feels useful and relevant. And hearing what resonates and doesn't with you all helps particularly to inform how we talk about Provisions and the things we love (and how we use them). We want to tell you about new tools we uncover and why we're excited about them over any others, but in a way that is specific and interesting to all of our cooking community. So thank you! I'll pass along your thoughts.
Sandra October 14, 2014
Butter, butter and more butter! Sometimes my homemade jams, Marmite, of course! Recently, I received a gift of Coconut Jam ( which we always called cocojam growing up) from my brother-in-law back in the Philippines. It is the best tasting one, ever. It is creamy and spreadable like butter and has a hint of tangy nuttiness like molasses. Yummy on bread.
Posie (. October 15, 2014
I love coconut jam! So good and so unusual, I wish we could find it more places.
AntoniaJames October 14, 2014
Wow, I've never seen epi rolls (pictured in the photo for this article on the home page), baked in a pan before. I find it much more efficient to bake them on a piece of parchment either on a hot "stone" ( I use refractory kiln tiles) or a large baking sheet. http://food52.com/recipes/8324-rosemary-epi-rolls ;o) As for what I put on my bread? When we're talking about Tartine (Robertson's) Country Bread, made my me, usually that would nothing. Sometimes for lunch, though I'll toast a slice of that or whatever other artisanal bread I've baked, and spread it with crunchy toasted almond butter, drizzled with toasted tahini, then drizzled with a touch of honey, and finally, sprinkled with Maldon salt, or dukkah. ;o)