Stale bread always feels like a judgment. It feels wasteful. Sure, stale bread can always become croutons, breadcrumbs, or its highest achievement, bread pudding. But in general, it is rare that we want bread to stale for these specific purposes. And good bread goes stale far too quickly, right?
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Easy never tasted so awesome.
Further, if you (like me) don’t bake or buy one artisinal loaf at a time, you're probably freezing some loaves along the way. Which are still better, once thawed, than generic grocery store bread, but are not exactly at their perfect state.
Bread refresh to the rescue! After you finish reading this article, you will be suddenly endowed with the power to refresh your whole (or even half) loaves quickly and simply, whether from your bread drawer or the freezer. It’s truly genius.
How to refresh stale or frozen bread
This could not be easier. All you need is an oven and water (and the loaf of bread in question!).
1. Take the loaf and run it under the tap to wet the exterior crust. If you are working with a half-loaf, be careful not to get the cut side wet. I know, it sounds super weird and counterintuitive, but there is science behind it.
2. Put the newly wetted loaf on the middle rack of an oven heated to 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes depending on thickness of the loaf. Baguettes go a bit faster; giant boules will take longer.
3. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.
Voila! What will emerge will taste—I guarantee—like a new loaf, crunchy crust and all! Even better? You can refresh bread this way nearly an infinite number of times.
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What if I bought sliced bread?
Obviously, the above technique only works on unsliced loaves. If you have a loaf of sliced bread you want to try and save, wrap the loaf (or what remains of it) in aluminum foil and place on the rack of a cold oven. Set the temp for 300 degrees and a timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, open the foil to expose the crust, but leave enough tension so that the slices don’t come apart, and leave for another 5 minutes. Remove and enjoy. And again, you’re the hero.
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