You got ambitious and made a bunch of loaves of bread and decided to freeze them to enjoy at a later date. Now, you want to know the best way to defrost frozen bread. After all, you spent all that time creating perfect loaves of bread – you don’t want to mess them up now! Knowing the best way to defrost bread will be the difference between a vibrant and a boring loaf.
Defrosting frozen bread does not require a long period of time in the refrigerator as meat does. The best and quickest way is to put it in the oven at a low temperature and “refresh” it in the oven.
Before we go through the steps on the best way to defrost frozen bread, let’s first talk about the best way to freeze it.
When it comes to making a bunch of loaves of bread to be used at a later date, you will want to be sure to freeze it correctly. After all, you want to make sure that all the hard work you put into baking that bread is not lost because you didn’t freeze it properly.
First, consider what the use will be for the bread when you defrost it. I say this because freezing and defrosting slices of bread is quicker and easier than whole loaves. So, if you intend to make sandwiches or have sliced bread for dinner, you may want to slice the bread before freezing it.
Or… you have a family meal, and you want to serve a whole warm loaf, so freeze the loaf whole. It’s best to slightly under-bake loaves intended for freezing -if you can. This way, the bread will have more moisture and be fresher-tasting after it is baked a second time.
First, you will need to wrap the bread to prevent moisture from getting into your loaf. You can use plastic wrap or a plastic food storage bag. Next, another layer of protection will protect it from frostbite. Wrap in aluminium foil or store in a box or tub to protect the bread from the direct cold of the freezer. The best solution is a cardboard box, but these are pretty tricky to find small enough. You can double wrap with foil for extra protection instead.
If you have sliced your bread, you can simply remove the number of slices you wish to defrost from the freezer. Place on a plate and cover with a piece of kitchen roll and wrap with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap prevents the bread from drying out too much. Whilst the sheet of kitchen paper will soak up any excess moisture released as the bread defrosts.
The best way to defrost slices of bread is at room temperature, but sometimes we just don’t have the time. Thankfully, the microwave will work too! But, you will only want to use the microwave for defrosting individual slices of bread and not a whole loaf, as it will dry out.
Just take out the many slices you need. Place them on a microwave-safe dish or plate. Cover with a sheet of kitchen paper, and heat on a high setting for 15 to 20 seconds. You will end up with soft, ready-to-eat slices of bread.
The best way to defrost a whole frozen loaf is to “refresh” it in the oven. You will want to preheat your oven to 410F (210C). If you use the baking stone, put it in the oven while it preheats. Place the loaf into the oven for 8-22 minutes, depending on the size of the bread. Water can be added to create steam for a shinier crust if you wish. Small rolls and bagels will only need 5-10 minutes.
Tip: If you find there that the bread colours too quickly, reduce the temperature of your oven. Bread that is already “well coloured” will need to be baked at a lower temperature of 350F (180C).
The core of the bread can be tested with a temperature probe to check that it is fully reheated. Check that the temperature is above 131F (55C) before removing.
When bread is at room temperature, the starch particles will change their structure to become more like their hard, pre-baked state. Freezing slows this down, but when bread is thawed, the starch retrogrades into a weakened state, expelling water in the process. Freezing also dampens many of the bread-like aromas we associate with freshly-baked bread.
By refreshing it in the oven, water is retained in the bread. This makes the outside crispy and keeps the centre moist. The fresh bready aromas and flavours are also brought back to life. The bread tastes, smells and feels almost as good as when it came out of the oven the first time!
You can let frozen bread loaves defrost at room temperature instead of baking them. The crust of the loaf will be less crisp, and it won’t taste as fresh as if it were baked, but it will definitely be useable.
Making bread is a timely and precise process. Thankfully you can make bread in big batches and freeze them, so you can have that warm fresh bread taste whenever you want. Perfect for family meals, sandwiches, and more. Unexpected guests? Not a problem when you have some sliced homemade bread in the freezer for making tasty sandwiches. Homemade bread just makes sandwiches better. Not to mention, making your own bread also allows us to control what ingredients we are using!
Hi, I’m Gareth Busby, a baker, bread baking coach and college lecturer. I’m here to help you make better bread and learn about the baking industry.
Suite 2646 Unit 3A,
34-35 Hatton Garden,