Here's the thing about defrosting frozen bread: It always takes a lot longer than you anticipate, and using the wrong method of thawing can do more harm than good. Sandwich loaves, bread slices, buns, French bread and baguettes all take differing amounts of time to defrost, depending on the size of the loaves and whether you use your toaster, microwave, oven or kitchen counter.
The good news is that you can feel guilt-free about including bread in your daily diet. While breads made with highly processed white flour may add unnecessary carbohydrates to your diet, the carbohydrates you get from whole grain breads are actually very good for your health. Further, a 2017 study conducted by scientists at major medical institutions and published by the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) concluded that avoiding whole grains can result in increased cardiovascular risk.
Thawing a Whole Loaf
A little planning is in order when thawing an entire loaf of bread. Even if you use the oven to speed up the process, you still need about 40 minutes in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for a whole loaf. A small loaf or baguette will take 15 to 20 minutes – check the loaf after 10 minutes to make sure it's not getting too dark.
For an easier but longer method, let the loaf defrost at room temperature for one to two hours while still wrapped. Then, take off the wrapping and bake the loaf at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes. Chemistry is at work in both these processes because heat releases water cells in bread and re-moistens it after freezing.
Thawing Bread Slices
A neat trick to limit the amount of bread and calories you eat is to freeze your bread in slices instead of as a whole loaf. That way, you can limit the temptation to have just one more buttered and yummy slice when defrosting. According to Cook's Illustrated, microwaving an individual slice, uncovered, for 15 to 25 seconds produced the freshest piece. Check on the slice after 10 to 15 seconds to see how it's progressing. If toast is your thing, simply pop a frozen slice in the toaster and toast as normal.
Tips for Success
If you are going to enjoy the carbs you get from bread, it makes sense to freeze it properly. Double wrapped in freezer-grade plastic or a combination of freezer-grade plastic and foil, whole or sliced bread, whether white or whole grain, lasts about three months with no loss of texture. Any of the breads will still be edible after years in the freezer if you happen to find a slice tucked away in a corner, but the quality will have suffered.