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We know freezing bread is a great way to keep fresh bread at your fingertips for months after a day of baking. It does well in the freezer, the reheating process is quick and straightforward and making bread in bulk is an ideal way to save time. But what happens if you take out too much bread from the freezer? Or what if plans change at the last minute, but you already pulled your bread out? Can bread be refrozen and put back in the freezer?
Yes, you can stick that bread back in the freezer. However, it will be slightly stale since it will have lost some moisture. It can also have a softer crust. If you need to refreeze your bread, you will want to do it right away. To prevent staling, you will want to have it back in your freezer within one day, two at the absolute most.
When bread is baked, it softens the starch in the flour. This makes it soft and fluffy. Freezing hardens the starch, turning it into resistant starch. Essentially, the process makes it more difficult for the enzymes to break the starch down into sugar.
Bacteria consume the resistant starch in the gut. Instead of the calories providing energy to our body, they are fed to the gut bacteria. Thus, your body receives far fewer calories from frozen bread.
As frozen bread returns to room temperature, the structure of the bread reforms and the starch particles form crystalline regions. This process is called retrogradation which also causes moisture to be lost from the original starch structure. As molecules of free water appear, they colonise on the outer edges of the bread, which softens the crust.
The best way to prevent a soggy crust when defrosting bread is to bake it. This crispens the crust whilst the starch re-aligns itself again. The bread will taste fresh again, but because moisture is lost, it will turn dry and stale quickly.
Yes, bread can be refrozen, but there will be a loss of quality, so it’s best avoided if you can. Bread does fine when frozen once, but it will be much worse if frozen more than once. Just make sure you do everything you can to avoid freezer burn, or your bread will not be very tasty.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to refreeze your bread, here are some helpful hints:
Tip: Bread can last in the freezer for six months, but you should use it within three for best results. That way, there is less risk of freezer burn.
Now that you know, you can refreeze your bread. Let’s talk about reheating it. There are a few ways you can do this.
The best way to defrost a frozen loaf is to bake it. Preheat the oven to 210C (410F), insert the loaf, adding steam to the oven if you want it extra crispy. Depending on the size of the bread, it will take 8-16 minutes to bake.
Small types of bread, like bagels or individual rolls, only need 5-8 minutes. Take a temperature read of the centre of the bread by using a temperature probe. The temperature should be above 55C (131F) for the bread to be properly refreshed.
I recommend when you bake a lot of loaves of bread that you plan to freeze, think about what you want to do with that bread and prepare accordingly. Slice more of the bread as it is easier to get the quantity you need for each serving. You don’t have to thaw a whole loaf if it can lead to waste.
Alternatively, follow my steps to make quick bread to have homemade bread regularly throughout the week. See how to make dough rise faster.
If the bread is dry and hard after defrosting for a second time, not to worry. There are plenty of options for using that refrozen bread! You can make croutons or breadcrumbs. You can use it for open-faced sandwiches.
The stale texture will hold up to sauces and gravies, and I doubt you will notice much difference in the texture. Or, you could use the dry bread for bruschetta. Simply grill and top the bread with delicious toppings such as grilled tomato, basil, feta, or mozzarella. Or you could do a mushroom, caramelised onion with goat cheese. Lots of options!
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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.
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