The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Does Bread Get Denser Overnight?

That baker guy's picture
That baker guy

Does Bread Get Denser Overnight?

Hello all,

I’m a long time reader, first time poster.

I’ll get right to it, and give a backstory to my query afterwards for those who would like more detail:

Does bread get denser overnight, after baking?

 

My current mission is to be able to make consistently perfect ciabatta; I used to be able to achieve satisfactory results when I worked in bakery in 2009 and had the time and tools at my disposal on a daily basis, but something has changed and I’m not sure what.

I’ve been attempting batches of ciabatta using Peter Reinhardt’s recipe from BBA and for the first time in weeks I nailed it last night-it tasted exactly like I used to make it! I’m not even sure what I did differently from my other batches other than add a little dough I had saved from a batch about 3 weeks ago.

However, today when I reheated the bread and ate some it was supremely disappointing. I mean, there’s no way to ever get that smell and taste back from a fresh baked loaf of bread but the texture wasn’t even close to what it was last night. Today it was dense, not fluffy. The crumb looks different. There are no large holes in the bread as there were last night. It’s almost as if the break continued baking too much or absorbed excess moisture after sitting..

Last night’s loaf was light and airy and a perfect representation of the word ‘fluffy’. It had that wonderful fermented flavor expertly enhanced by just the right amount of olive oil and kosher salt. The crust was soft and chewy but not in the slightest bit tough. It was a loaf that incited an exultant shout of joy and minor palpitations of the heart upon my tasting it.

It had the texture and flavor that had made me fall in love with bread many years ago and taught me to delight in the idiosynchrasies of a living loaf which has a nature of its own-temperamental..demanding.. unforgiving should you either neglect it or hurry it, yet extremely humble and self-sacrificial should you nurture it properly-however brief the immediate rewards upon its completion. 

It was the kind of five-ingredient loaf that makes you question if you’ve ever had real bread before in your life and makes you scared to ever look at the ingredient list on a bag of mass produced, cheaply made store bread ever again.

BUT...

For all its merits, it lets you know its displeasure at your failure to share (in a timely manner) with others the gift of itself after having spent days developing the complex flavors and gluten structure necessary for a loaf of bread that quality.

You let the bread sit, neglected, one day—a few hours even-and it responds with quite apparent dissatisfaction to your ingratitude.

 

So, again, my question is: will bread become more sense after sitting overnight?

I waited at least an hour after the bread had cooled, but before it had gone stale on the outside before I wrapped it in plastic wrap.

I had split one of the loaves before wrapping to make sure it was entirely cool inside and it was.

I don’t understand what caused the texture to change so drastically overnight. I’d be thankful for any suggestions!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

one word:  plasticrap

Try first wrapping in paper.  If you must, that can go inside another paper or plastic bag if humidity is very low.  What happens is that the center moisture moves to the crust while it sits overnight, if it can't evaporate, the crust softens.  Great to soften crusty rye breads but not so nice for crispy rolls and crusts.  

Perhaps a reheat in a hot oven may restore a crispy crust but nothing beats fresh baked.

That baker guy's picture
That baker guy

Hey Mini Oven, thanks for your response!

I’ll give it a shot and post back when I make my next batch. I’d love to see a different result with the paper but it can’t be argued that-as you said-nothing beats a fresh loaf!

I can only think of one bread I’ve ever made that was just as good a week (ok..maybe a little under a week) later as it was the day it was baked. It was a honey buttermilk bread.

I guess I’m just going to need to find people to share with as soon as my bread comes out of the oven.