First, it’s important to understand what causes bread to stale. Staling is essentially the process of drying out, and it happens because bread is a porous material that absorbs moisture from the air around it. That’s why you’ll often find that bread stored in a humid environment will stay fresher longer than bread stored in a dry one. Additionally, bread that’s been sliced will stale more quickly than unsliced bread, because slicing creates surface area that can more easily absorb moisture.
There’s nothing quite like the smell of fresh bread wafting through the kitchen. And while store-bought bread can be convenient, there’s something special about bread that’s been made from scratch. If you’re thinking that making your own bread is too time-consuming or difficult, think again! With a little bit of planning, you can easily fit bread-making into your busy schedule. And once you’ve tasted the difference between store-bought and homemade bread, you’ll never go back! Not to mention, baking your own bread can save you money in the long run. So what are you waiting for? Get started on your baking adventure today!
- Sourdough – Sourdough bread is made with a sourdough starter, which is a culture of wild yeast and bacteria. The lactic acid present in the dough (a by-product of the natural yeast that gives sourdough its lifting power) discourages the aforementioned chemical processes responsible for staling. This means that sourdough bread and rolls tend to have a longer shelf life than bread and rolls made with commercial yeast. Sourdough starters can be made at home or purchased from a bakery or online. Once you have a starter, you can make sourdough bread or rolls by adding flour, water, and salt to the starter and allowing the dough to rise. Sourdough bread has a distinctive flavor that is different from bread made with commercial yeast. It is also more nutritious, as the wild yeast and bacteria in the starter help to break down the gluten in the flour, making it easier for the body to digest.
- Tangzhong – For anyone who loves fresh-baked bread, the challenge is often keeping it fresh for more than a day or two. While there are several methods for extending the shelf life of bread, one of the most effective is known as “tangzhong.” Tangzhong is a technique used in Asian baking that involves cooking a small percentage of the flour and liquid (either water or milk) into a thick slurry. This slurry is then incorporated into the rest of the ingredients, before proceeding with the recipe as usual. Tangzhong helps to extend the shelf life of bread because it allows the starches in the flour to absorb more moisture. This delay in moisture absorption helps to keep bread fresh for several days. If you want to incorporate tangzhong into your own baking, the folks at King Arthur Flour have an excellent guide here.
When it comes to baking bread, there are a variety of methods that can be used in order to produce a delicious loaf. Two of these methods are sourdough and the tangzhong method. Sourdough bread has a long shelf life, and bread made with the tangzhong method also has a long shelf life. However, some people wonder if employing both together would produce an even longer-lasting loaf. While it may seem logical that this would be the case, it actually is not. The truth is that there is no noticeable difference in sourdough made with tangzhong and sourdough made without. So, if increasing your bread’s shelf life is your main goal, you may as well save yourself a step and just do one or the other. Either way, you will end up with a delicious and long-lasting loaf of bread!
There are several types of ingredients you can add to bread dough that will help delay the staling process. Let’s look at some of the most common types of such ingredients, and how you can incorporate each of them into your bread recipe.
- Fats & Sweeteners:Using fats and sweeteners in bread baking is an easy way to add flavor and texture to your bread. Fats such as oil, butter, and shortening help to create a moist, tender crumb, while sweeteners like sugar, honey, and syrup add a touch of sweetness. There are countless recipes that call for these ingredients, so finding the right one for your bread baking needs is simple. Whether you’re looking for a traditional white bread or something more unique like milk bread rolls, incorporating fats and sweeteners into your bread baking will give you the delicious results you’re looking for.
- Acids: Acids are a key ingredient in many recipes, providing both flavor and leavening power. When baking with acids, it is important to use the correct amount in order to achieve the desired results. For more concentrated acids, such as lemon juice or vinegar, add 1 Tablespoon for every 4 – 5 cups of water. Since buttermilk is a less concentrated acidic ingredient, try replacing all of the liquid called for in the recipe with the same amount of buttermilk. By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your baked goods turn out perfectly every time.
- Lecithin is a fat that is found in egg yolks, soybeans, and certain other plants. It is sometimes used as an emulsifier in baking, which means that it helps to prevent the formation of large crystals in sugar and prevents the fat from separating out from the batter.
- Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is another ingredient that is sometimes used in baking. It works as a preservative and can help to prevent the formation of mold. However, it can also cause baked goods to brown more quickly, so it is important to use only a small amount if you are using this ingredient.
Now that your bread has been baked, whether you tried any of the ideas listed above or not, there are still several storage options that will help lengthen the shelf life of that beautiful, fresh-baked loaf. Let’s consider the “where” and “how” of proper bread storage. First, it’s important to know that bread should be stored at cool room temperature, in a dry place.
Where to Store Bread:
A pantry or cupboard away from the oven is ideal. And speaking of cupboards, if you plan to store your bread in one, be sure to choose a location where the air circulates well. Stale bread is caused by excess moisture, so you want to make sure your bread isn’t stored in a damp spot. Baking bread is an art, and like any piece of art, it deserves to be properly displayed. So once you’ve found the perfect spot for your bread, be sure to keep it in a bread box or on a plate, rather than stuffed into a plastic bag. This will help keep your bread crusty and delicious. following these simple tips will help ensure that your bread stays fresh and delicious for days to come.
How to Store Bread:
- Slice loaf in half and leave on cutting board (cut-side down). This Slice loaf in half and leave on cutting board (cut-side down). This works great for a day or two. After that, you’ll probably need to put the bread in something to prevent staleness from setting in. Just be sure your bread is completely cool before cutting into it!
- Kitchen towel, paper bag, or reusable bread bag. Wrapping their loaf in a clean kitchen towel, while others prefer to place it in a paper bag or reusable bread bag. Each method has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
A kitchen towel helps to keep the bread moist andprotected from the air, which can cause it to dry out. However, if you live in a dry climate, a kitchen towel may not be enough to keep the bread from drying out. A paper bag is also effective at preserving moisture, but it can be difficult to find a bag that is the right size for your loaf. Additionally, paper bags are not reusable, so they are not as eco-friendly as other options. Reusable bread bags are a great alternative to paper bags, as they are reusable and come in a variety of sizes. However, they may not keep the bread as fresh as other methods do.
- Bread box. Bread is a staple in many households, but it can be tricky to keep it fresh. One popular method of storage is using plastic baggies. This helps to keep the bread from drying out and going stale. However, there are some downsides to this method. In humid climates, plastic bags can encourage mold growth. The trapped moisture can also cause the crust to soften. Finally, disposable plastic bags are not good for the environment. To minimize waste, try to reuse each bag several times before throwing it away.
- Freezer. If you don’t plan on eating bread for several days, freezing it is the best option to slow down the staling process. The lower temps of freezers practically stop the chemical processes responsible for bread going stale. Bread can be stored in the freezer either sliced or as a whole loaf. Wrap it well in a plastic bag to keep freezer burn at bay.
- First, try reheating the bread in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. This will often help to restore some of the bread’s moisture and make it more palatable.
- If that doesn’t do the trick, there are still plenty of recipes you can use for stale bread. Try making croutons, bread pudding, or even savory dishes like stuffing or strata. With a little creativity, you can transform your stale bread into something delicious!