The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Defrosting?

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vink's picture
vink

Defrosting?

I've never really frozen bread before I started baking.  I stashed away half a loaf in the freezer last weekend, since I didn't bake anything this weekend, it's time to get that out. Should I simply take it out and put in the fridge to defrost? Room temp? Microwave defrost? (Not in an awful hurry, just want to know what is the preferred approach .. it's a light rye, btw.) 

Thanks!

 

Schola's picture
Schola

I have defrosted in the microwave and left the loaf at room temperature. Both worked well - I always remove the bag the bread was frozen in. I've heard the worst thing you can do for bread is to keep it in the fridge, but Idon't know why . 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Part of the refrigeration process (cooling) involves lowering the humidity withing the evironment under refrigeration.  That tends to dry out your baked goods.

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

My understanding of the science of the staling process is that the regular temperature of a refrigerator is that it's exactly the temperature you want if you want to stale your bread most quickly.  I think I read this in Bread Science.

I slice my breads and store them in a plastic bag in my freezer.  I then place them directly into the toaster.  Be extra careful with the microwave as over-microwaving is the direct path to making shoe leather, in my experience, not in yours?

When necessary I freeze whole loaves and then thaw them on the kitchen counter.  If I'm in a hurry, I will thaw them faster, enveloped airtight in aluminum in order not to dry out the crust before the crumb (innards) thaws.  I do this in a medium oven if I'm in a hurry; a lower temperature, if not.

 

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Or put it in the microwave for one minute at a time. They defrost quickly in the microwave; but, more than a couple of minutes, they get soggy.

Don't put it in the refrigerator. Why not? No idea.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I've always had the best luck defrosting storebought-style loaves at room temperature by leaving the bag closed. When you freeze the bread, some of the moisture will come out of it - thus the inside of the bag may be cloudy or even host some ice crystals. When thawed, water needs to go back into the bread or it will be noticeably dry/stale. 

How to figure out the exact right amount of water? Well you've already got the exact right amount, the amount of water that's inside the bag. Just leave the bag closed until the bread is fully thawed so you don't evaporate away some unknown quantity of water.

There is an alternative; it works especially well with thick-crusted breads that don't lose much moisture when they're frozen. Here it is: take the still-partially-frozen loaf out of the bag, mist it a little (just a tiny bit of water, not wet like a sponge, maybe just shake wet fingers over the loaf), and put it in a heated (350F ?) oven for about ten minutes.This finishes the thawing process, re-crisps the crust, and drives that tiny bit of moisture back into the crumb. Depending on the style of your particular loaves and your taste, you may need to adjust the pre-thaw time and/or the oven temperature a little next time. (I've never done the experiment of doing this with storebought-style loaves that have a very thin crust and/or exude a lot of moisture when frozen, as I expect it would fail miserably:-)

vink's picture
vink

Thanks for the suggestions. I will use thaw it at room temperature in the same bag as suggested, I am not in a hurry so don't need to use the microwave. Also, I typically eat one slice at a time, heating it up a little bit in the toaster oven, so I should be OK in getting it crisped up.  I guess next time I will slice it up before freezing.

 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

When you decide to freeze your bread, make sure you store it in freezer bags, not just the typical plastic bag/wrap you might otherwise choose when puting food in the refrigerator.  Plastic wraps, other than those designed specifically for freezing, are porous enough to allow for some air to pass through them.  Even though the pores are microscopic, they can allow enough air to pass to cause your bread to dry out.  For other foods, using low grade plastic bags/wrap sets up an environment for more rapid freezer burn.

vink's picture
vink

Hi, Thanks for the suggestion on using real freezer bags. We alread learned from other frozen food items, so I used a ziploc freezer bag to store the bread (at least for dry food, I also try to reuse the freezer bags to reduce waste -- works only about 10% of the time, but looks like a definite possibility with bread.)