The fragrance of freshly baked bread hits you hard as you walk past your local bakery. You can’t resist, so you end up buying a loaf, knowing you’ll never eat the whole thing before it becomes stale. There is an option, however. Freeze it; then defrost the bread only as you need it.
Save the bag the bread came in. It’ll come in handy when you reheat it.
Cut the bread into chunks or freeze it as a baton, but know that you can only freeze it once. The bread plus heat from the oven or microwave revitalizes the frozen starches, making them fresh again. However, they can only tolerate one round of cryonics before breaking down and losing their flavor.
Love It; Then Freeze It
Cherish that yeasty fragrance in your hot loaf of bread. Spread it generously with the best butter you can afford and pop it into your mouth and savor the flavor, the crunch, the soft insides. Do that a few times until you’re full. That memory will live on for another day if you know how to freeze a loaf of bread.
Slice your bread into single portions, not single slices, unless you want to use it as toast. With plastic wrap, tightly encircle the loaf. Don’t let any piece of the bread break out and expose itself to air during the freezing process.
Put the wrapped bread into a zip-lock bag; squeeze out any air, and seal it. Place the bag into the freezer away from the front where air from opening and closing the freezer can reach the bread. Plan to use the bread within a few weeks.
Bringing Bread Back to Life
There are several ways to reheat bread and give it the same taste and texture as it had when you walked out of the bakery with your prize. You want the starch and water inside the loaf to get moving again, so you’ll have soft, edible bread. Remember that bakery bag that the bread originally came in? Find it and put your frozen loaf in the bag.
- Heat the oven to 315 degrees Fahrenheit and put both bag and bread in the oven for 20 minutes. Poke the bag to test the progress, and if you need more oven time, add it. The slow heat fully thaws the insides, and the bag saves the crust from turning too crunchy.
- You can also defrost the bread for 3‒4 hours on the countertop and then put it into a 350F oven for a few minutes to bring it back to life.
- Another trick is to swab the crust with water before putting it into the bag and oven. This adds moisture that was depleted when the bread was in the freezer. If you didn’t save the original bag, not to worry. But swab the crust just the same.
- Place just the amount of slices you need onto a baking tray and heat at 325F for 5 minutes.
- A toaster will work the same as the oven, but be sure the setting is on low.
- A microwave can revitalize frozen bread, but the critical “point of no return” is somewhere between 15‒25 seconds, depending on the power of your machine.
Reheating the Fancy Stuff
You didn’t walk out of that bakery with just a loaf of bread. An almond croissant and a chocolate brioche came home with you as well, and you’re anticipating a calorie-laden breakfast with your morning coffee. The best bakery products are made with loads of really good butter, so don’t leave those yummy treats on the counter overnight.
Keep them in their bags and put them in the refrigerator. In the morning, heat them in their bags, for 15 minutes at 315F. This gets the butter soft, the laminated layers of dough are awakened, and you have a wonderful start to your day.