What do you do when your new bundle of doughy goodness arrives at your house? (Besides leap for joy?!?) What is the proper protocol for caring for and feeding eating your bread? Here are a few tips.
Bread is never better than after it has first cooled (usually about 1 hour after it comes out of the oven). Like most of us after we hit a certain age, it’s all downhill from there. You can, however, stave off the affects of age:
- You probably know how to slice a traditional oblong loaf, (called a “batard” which is a funny word that looks like a misspelled insult but hey, it’s French so get over it).
- Round loaves , or “boules” are a little trickier. We slice into our boules a few slices, then rotate the loaf 90 degrees and begin to slice again. This provides more uniform size pieces. Use a good serrated knife of course. (A cleaver might not be the best choice!)
- Many of our breads are classified as “enriched.” In other words, they have other ingredients besides flour, yeast, salt, and water. Once cooled, these enriched breads do well in plastic, stored in a cool, dark place like a cupboard. (They’ll dry out if you leave them in the paper bag.)
- “Lean” breads (those that are primarily flour, salt, yeast, and water) tend to dry out a little quicker.
- You can also freeze your loaf for later use.
- If you think you might use just a few slices at a time, try slicing it before you freeze it. Then you can just grab a piece or two and thaw them out. Toasting them briefly will often wake them up nicely
- If you want to thaw a whole loaf, pull it out of the freezer 2 hours before you need it. In an emergency, (yes, we do have bread emergencies), you can heat your oven to 400 and drape the frozen loaf in a damp towel. Keep checking the towel every 10 minutes to see if it needs to be re-dampened. This should reheat a loaf in about 20 minutes.
- Other Don’ts:
- Don’t store your bread in a refrigerator. Your bread will not mold fast, but the frig will dry it out!
- Don’t leave your bread in paper. It will dry out.
- If you want to make bread crumbs/croutons, don’t leave the bread in plastic. Move it to paper.
- Don’t use your bread as a doorstop. Or at least don’t tell the Bread Dude if you do…