Bread for Later

Whether a recipe made too much or just took a lot of work, storing more for later is always a great way to simplify your baking routine. Use my "Bread for Later" guide to make sure it still tastes great!

Step 1: Make Bread (or buy it - try a bakery thrift store)

All these tasty, simple recipes produce breads that freeze well.

My favorite bread book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, teaches a technique that allows you to make bread dough, in as large a batch as you'd like, and store the dough in the refrigerator to quickly make whenever you want fresh, warm bread.

Step 2: DON'T refrigerate it

Refrigerated bread goes stale more quickly. Really. Don't refrigerate it. The common myth that "refrigerated bread lasts longer" continues because refrigerated bread DOES mold slower, but if you follow these instructions, you won't have stale OR molded bread.

Don't believe me? Read here, here, here, and here.

note: if you have a custard or meat-filled bread, you can't leave it out at room temperature. freeze it (step 3 "for later") or refrigerate it for as short a time as possible.

Step 3: Separate "for now" from "for later"

Keep out however much bread you'll be able to eat in the next two to three days, or however long it will last before going stale or molding.

Freeze the "for later" bread. Wrap it in an airtight container (even a plastic ziptop freezer bag will work; we keep one bag for muffins and reuse it over and over). If it's a loaf, you might want to slice it first because it will be hard once frozen. If you'll remove the entire loaf, thaw, and gift, then it doesn't matter. You can keep bread frozen for three or more months.

Take a look at your "for now" bread. Does it have a crusty outside, or is it soft all over? Crusty breads should be stored in a paper bag, not an airtight container. Sometimes I just cover mine with a kitchen towel. Soft breads, like sandwich bread, are best kept in plastic, either the plastic bag it came in or a plastic container. I've been told that ceramic bread boxes are really the best solution for any type of bread, but I've never had one myself so I can't be sure. (Anyone have experiences to share?) If you just baked your bread, wait til it's room temperature before you store it in anything.

Step 4: Warm it

Thaw frozen bread at room temperature. This means you need to plan ahead. If you need a few slices immediately, you can eat them as toast. Use a toaster or oven for a few minutes, watching til it looks crisp.

Room temperature bread (whether stored "for now" bread or frozen "for later" bread that has thawed) can be warmed in the microwave as long as you add moisture to keep it from getting tough. Here are ways I reheat slices of bread:

* Place the bread on a wet paper towel. Microwave, checking every 30 seconds.
* Toast in the oven.
* Microwave in a bowl with butter on top of the bread, checking every 30 seconds.
* Microwave on a small plate, checking every 30 seconds. Put a glass of water in the microwave. The steam will keep the bread moist.

Step 5: Repurpose It

Try as you might, sometimes you'll miss and your bread will go stale.

Thankfully, Italian food, restaurants, and smart bloggers all use stale bread. Give their ideas a try!

...and you?

How do you store your bread? Any more ideas for repurposing stale bread? Share your ideas in the comments! Links to posts you've written are welcome!