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There's more than one way to
skin a cat cut a baguette. Since many recipes for crostini, bruschetta, and other foods on toast will not specify how exactly to slice the baguette, it's up to you to use your creative liberties—and decide which cut is best.
Below, we have three different slicing methods, each of which is valuable in its own way:
Think about what your baguette's destiny is—will it be an accompaniment to a dip or a cheese plate; a substantive dinner side; a grilled crouton?—then pick your slicing method accordingly.
Method #1: Short & Straight
What to do: Use a serrated knife (you want to saw rather than squish) to slice the baguette crosswise into small, almost circular pieces. For an even minier, truly one-bite piece, slice the circle in half with a sharp chef's knife.
What it's good for: This cut yields small pieces that are manageable as finger food and hors d'oeuvres. But, since the pieces don't have a lot of surface area for stuff, they're better smeared with spread, served alongside a dip, or shoved onto a cheese plate.
Method #2: On the Bias (Slightly or Dramatically)
What to do: Use a long serrated knife to saw (again, avoid smushing or squishing) the baguette into thin pieces, this time cutting on the bias so that your slices are longer and more elongated.
What it's good for: These oblong pieces have more surface area—a suitable canvas for more substantial toppings like broccoli rabe, smoked salmon, or persimmon pieces. They offer a more dramatic presentation than the small circular slices, and are equally appropriate on a dinner plate and an appetizer table.
Plus, the grilled cheese game changer: Faced with a need for cheese and no sandwich bread or sourdough in sight, Test Kitchen Manager Josh Cohen used dramatically biased slices of baguette and proceeded with his grilled cheese methodology.
Method #3: Funny fingers.
What to do: Cut the baguette into thirds, then cut each third lengthwise, into long rectangles (trimming the ends and crusty sides and using it for breadcrumbs or what have you).
What it's good for: These pieces provide minimal crust and maximum bread, which make them perfect for grilling or charring (just lightly oil the strips after you've cut them). They're easier to flip and handle than smaller pieces, and once they're off the grill, you can cut them into smaller cubes for grilled croutons.