It'd be nice if all of us could have fresh bread in our kitchens on a daily basis. That probably isn't possible, though, which is why we caught up with Greg Wade, head baker at Chicago's Publican Quality Bread, who says it's best to freeze bread and pull it out when we need it — as long as we follow a few simple rules.
He starts with what not to freeze: "I never recommend freezing things like baguettes or ciabatta. Anything that has a large surface-to-crumb ratio just never refreshes the same."
Just about any other bread is freezer eligible, though, including sandwich loaves, old-world boules, dinner rolls, and yeasted coffee cakes. And he says it's possible to freeze these carb-y goodies and enjoy them later in a not-rock-hard state.
How to Freeze Your Bread (and Eat It, Too)
1. Make sure it's cooled completely.
If you're baking at home, it's key to let the bread cool completely before freezing it. Wade suggests letting bread cool for three to four hours.
2. Slice the bread.
Freezing a sandwich loaf? Slice it up before packaging it. Ditto for a coffee cake. Otherwise, leave the loaf whole.
3. Package the bread.
Wade wraps bread tightly in plastic wrap before tossing it in the freezer. You could also use a zip-top freezer bag or even a vacuum sealer. The folks at King Arthur Flour recommend double-bagging hard-crusted breads to protect against sharp edges, which can cause small tears in the plastic, exposing the bread to freezer burn. No matter how you package the bread, your goal is to create a barrier between bread and freezer air.
4. Freeze and hold.
Bread will keep for three to six months in a freezer, but flavors can begin to dull after a month. Put it in a warmer part of your freezer — like on the door — if it's for, say, sandwiches, and you'll be reaching for it frequently.
5. Thaw and reheat.
Before you need to use a loaf, remove it from the freezer and set it on a countertop in its packaging. The bread will reabsorb any moisture on the inside of the bag or wrap. Let it sit until it reaches room temperature. Wade then reheats room-temperature, unwrapped bread at 350°F for about 10 minutes. "It really brings the crust back to life," Wade says.
King Arthur has a technique for going from freezer to oven: Place unwrapped bread in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes. This "hot-thawing" method makes items stale quickly, so you'll want to enjoy immediately.
Either way, the oven is your friend when it comes to eating bread from the freezer.
Make Your Own Bread (and Then Freeze It)
Do you have bread in your freezer right now?
At Publican Quality Bread, Wade oversees production of all the carbs for the Paul Kahan empire of restaurants (Blackbird, Avec, and The Publican are among them) and 55 wholesale customers. And he was a finalist for the 2017 James Beard award for Outstanding Baker. So it's fair to say the guy knows — and loves — bread.