The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why do my focaccia go stale within 24 hours?

Herbsman's picture

Why do my focaccia go stale within 24 hours?

I use a recipe similar to Dan Lepard's for focaccia.

  • 100% flour (obviously)
  • 35% sour starter (100% hydration)
  • 0.74% yeast
  • 2.5% salt
  • 65% water
  • 5% extra virgin olive oil 

When it cools, it's extremely light and fluffy, with HUGE holes in it. The closest you'll ever get to eating clouds. But for some reason, it goes tough and hard within 24h despite being kept in an airtight plastic box.

WTF?! Should I store it differently?

When I make 'dry' bread (i.e. without oil) it stays nice for days on end... sometimes up to a week.  But this is no doubt because it's already dry, so it doesn't matter so much that it's getting drier every day...

xaipete's picture

Why don't you try storing it in something that isn't air tight and see what happens? Maybe wrap it up in a piece of parchment paper--that's what I do.


Herbsman's picture

I generally bake at 230 for no longer than 30 minutes. May try a higher temperature/shorter bake in future, but will definitely try tight storage with a big ziploc bag.

Am I right in thinking that the more fat you use, the longer the bread stays soft? The original recipe had 5% pork lard in it, so 10% fat added to it in total. I only add 5%.

However, part of me says I should just accept it and enjoy it in those first 12 hours when it's at its best. Good things don't last long, that's life!

davidg618's picture

is caused by the gelatinized starch crystalizing; it begins the moment you take bread from the oven, and there is little you can do about it. How fast it stales is a function of its surface-to-volume ratio. Foccacia has a high ratio (that's bad) a boule has a relatively low ratio (thats good). If your making Fougasse, its very bad. Furthermore, once cut into, a very open crumb will stale faster than a closed crumb. Jeffery Hamelman has a good discussion of staling, and slowing it down, in Bread on pages 28 and 29.

There's only two of us to eat all the bread we make; discounting all we give away,a whole loaf still goes stale on us. Hamelman warns the danger zone for staling is 32°F to 50°F--bread stales most quickly in this temperature range; that's why bread shouldm't be kept in a refrigerator.

Here's what we do: We allow the bread to cool completely, ryes and larger boules we leave at room temperature overnight, in a plastic bag with as much of the air squeezed out as possible. Just before freezing we cut the cooled loaves in half (except for baguettes, and really small loaves) put them back together and freeze them in their plastic bags, again squeezing out all the air possible.

We only take a half from a bag, wrap it in aluminum foil, and put it in a 375°F oven to thaw, and "refresh" it. By cooling completely before freezing, and thawing in a heated oven the bread spends the least time passing through the staling "danger zone". I can't tell fresh bread from previously frozen, unless its been in the freezer more than a month, then I find I have to cut a slice on the open side, and throw the slice away (or use it for crumbs or croutons).

We also store our "in-use" halves in Debbie Meyer Bread Bags. I've not done a side-by-side test between these bags and ordinary plastic, but they keep bread fresh-like for three or four days. Again, we always squeeze the air out of the bag.

We frequently use foccacia, sliced horizontally, for sandwiches. We bake it in a half-sheet pan, and, when cooled, cut it into sandwich sizes squares, fast freeze them on a cookie sheet, and, once frozen, store them in a deflated plastic bag in the freezer. When we make sandwiches with them we only take out what we need.

David G


Herbsman's picture

BTW the whole surface area & density thing is SO obvious that I am actually going to punch myself in the face for thinking about that. I'm supposed to be scientific!

pjkobulnicky's picture

My focaccia is a similar recipe with maybe 11% fat (oil). My first 24 hours  are delicious and then it gets dry. So, maybe you are right ... enjoy it when it is fresh. This is, after all, a product that is made to be eaten quickly.



rainwater's picture

I live all my breads go in a plastic bag when totally cooled, then into the freezer.  When I'm ready for a loaf, it goes in the refrigerator.  Then I slice what I need for work, and toast it at work.  I don't know what stale bread is.  My bread may not taste as good as some of the loaves on this forum, but it tastes really good, and better than anything you can buy.  I'm also a toast freak.  Even if my bread is two hours out of the oven, I'd rather toast it a little to give it that warm crisp texture and flavor.  Toasting a little brings that fresh out of the oven crisp crust, no matter how long I've had the bread.