This week one of my friends asked me how I freeze and unfreeze my home made bread, she got a bit more adventures now during these pandemic times and I realize many people is baking bread for the first time now, so some tips might be useful for many people. Since I was a kid I watched and helped my mom making bread, she used to make 5 or 6 loaves at a time and we froze them as a whole. We were a big family and a new bread didn’t last long enough to get dry. Her bread was delicious, usually made using white flour, milk and eggs. I started making breads from scratch as soon as I moved on my own but I could never eat a whole bread before it gets dry, so I always freeze. Now a days my everyday bread uses whole wheat and seeds or grains, so I had to also learn a few new tricks. Today I want to share a few tips on how to finish and freeze your bread so you can enjoy in the rush or laziness of every morning.
It’s ok to refrigerate the dough and use another day!
Sometimes I don’t bake my bread on the same day. If I’m busy or if it’s too late, after my dough grew at room temperature, I store it on the fridge and bake the next morning. Some recipes (the ones with no eggs or milk) you can refrigerate for longer, two or even three days, but there is the risk your yeast will lose strength. So I make one day and bake usually on the same day or next. For my everyday bread I prefer to use a metal bake sheet so I can have more regular slices for my breakfast. I make bread in other shapes when I want something different for the weekends.
Because the dough is still a bit cold I let it sit for around one hour until it doubles the size and looks nice and full.
Keeping the seeds on top of the bread
The secret for keeping those oats on the bread is to brush a mix of water and cornstarch before adding your toppings. This is valid for most breads with seeds on top. It works as glue and make the crust a bit more crunchy. (I use this mix for most whole wheat/seeds bread. For breads like brioche or breads with milk and eggs in the dough, the best topping is usually egg wash). Simply make your cornstarch mix and brush after the bread grew. Apply your seeds or oats and then make the cut on the top. The cut is there to help your bread open in that direction instead of crack on the sides, but not all recipes require that and if you forget it’s fine too.
Why use a drying rack for bread?
After baking I immediately take it out of the baking pan and place on a “drying rack”. I don’t have one now, I sold mine together with all my cooking gadgets before moving to Canada. So I’m using a dish in this picture, this way the bread can breathe and won’t get soggy underneath. The drying rack it’s much better because it distributes the weight of the bread and keeps its shape.
Bread crust won’t let you dry
If you are going to eat the bread immediately, don’t let the middle be exposed to the air. Keep the bread “standing up” so it won’t get dry. Even if you leave your loaf outside for one day it usually will be all right as long as the middle is not “open” to the air. If I have visits I know we will eat the bread in just 2 days, so I don’t freeze, I simply keep in this position on a plate and cover with an upside down loose plastic or paper bag (just to avoid dust).
Get your slices from the middle
Now if I’m freezing I wait until it’s totally cold and slice the whole bread. You should wait until it’s cold for 2 reasons: first because slicing a hot bread it will make a huge mess and it will crumble all over. And second because you will loose way more water and your bread will get super dry later. Use a serrated bread knife, if you don’t have one, buy one so you can slice it properly. A table knife will cut irregular slices and make a mess, a kitchen knife will smash your crust and make you angry.
If you want to eat a slice right now or any time later, always take it from the middle and keep the both ends of the bread. The crust will protect your bread from getting dry, so keep the crust around as long as you can.
Keep the slices together and avoid extra air
My breads are small and I usually keep them in a large zip lock bag. If I make a very large bread, I reuse a bag from my last store bought bread. While packaging, keep the slices together and make the whole as compact as you can. Take as much air from the bag as possible, you don’t want to open a bag full of ice crystals. Never ever freeze a hot bread, because the water vapor will become ice and your bread will lose the original texture. Find space on your freezer to keep your bread nice together and with a good shape. That’s it! Every morning take out a slice from the middle and put directly on a toaster for a few seconds and voila! Fresh bread with amazing texture every morning!
I hope you enjoyed these tips and you are having an amazing time baking! I believe the quarantine times are getting to the end for most of us, but some new habits are here to stay. Thanks for reading!