The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cooling the bread first

sdionnemoore's picture

Cooling the bread first

In my original post about the onion bread I said how the taste wasn't all that great. Admittedly, I sliced and tasted the piece while the bread was still warm. Unimpressed, I froze the loaf. We were going to a friend's house for dinner, so I decided to take the bread along and see what others thought of the taste. Surprisingly enough, it was delicious! My question is this, why does allowing the bread to cool make such a drastic difference in taste?

Soundman's picture

I agree with rockfish, and can say that if you are baking sourdough bread, you might find the flavor continuing to change for several days AFTER it's cooled! The "daily bread" I bake has maximum flavor (and sourness) 2 days after baking / cooling.


sdionnemoore's picture

Thanks. I will wonder no more. It interests me though that some breads are best eaten still warm, while others are not. What components of a bread make it a still-warm eating must?


And Soundman brought another question to my mind . . . 2 DAYS after baked? How in the world does a bread stay fresh that long? Is it because it's sourdough? I've never done a sourdough, but my yeasted breads seem to decline after 12 hours. I have used Vital Wheat Gluten though I'm not sure how much it really helped. Maybe we ate the bread too fast to tell. :)

sephiepoo's picture

Sourdoughs and breads made with a preferment often have a higher acidity than regular straight doughs and I believe the acidity contributes to the keeping qualities of the bread.  I've noticed that my sourdoughs can still be eaten without toasting or refreshing in the oven for anywhere from 4-6 days after it was baked (if it lasts that long!).

I've also noticed that the sourdoughs don't seem to mold until around a week and a half after it was baked.  I don't like the heels, so that's usually where I see it :) My straight doughs (no preferment, no retarding) only seem to last a couple days, unfortunately

LindyD's picture

What components of a bread make it a still-warm eating must?

Bad bread, according to Jeffrey Hamelman, master baker, author, and head of the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center.  The heat can sometimes hide the defects in taste.

Baker and author Dan DiMuzio, who is pictured on the home page, is a bit more foregiving, stating in his book that a very few varities are "enjoyable when eaten warm."  Citing soft dough pretzels, pizza, croissants, and buttery yeast rolls.

A good, well made bread has a lot of things going on while it cools.  Cut into it while it's warm, and you'll bite into gummy dough and not experience the full flavor and aroma that you'd taste by waiting for the bread to completely cool and develop.  

Many rye breads need 24 to 48 hours to mature before they are tasted. Those are made with sourdough - which continues to develops its flavor over time as well as adding to the keeping quality of the bread, in both rye and wheat breads.

If warm bread is a must in your house, allow it to fully cool and then warm it just before you eat it.