Bread Storage Tips & One Great
ART OF EXTRAORDINARY BREAD
by Peter Reinhart
usually tastes best just after it cools down completely. It is at this
point that the flavor-baffling warmth is gone, the moisture has
evaporated, thus intensifying flavor, and the bread is still fresh so that
it is soft and creamy on the palate. It is never difficult to advise
people what to do with fresh bread: eat it and enjoy it. However, it
becomes more problematic to advise what to do with the bread that is in
excess of what can be enjoyed after that perfect bread moment passes.
Bread Storage Doís
crusty breads are stored differently than soft, enriched breads. If
you want to preserve the crustiness in lean breads, store them in paper,
but they will become stale within a day and are best eaten on the same day
they are made. If you want to preserve them for more than a day, cater
wrap the loaves in plastic wrap (this means wrap them completely in both
directions to prevent any air from getting to them). Then, either freeze
or place them in a cool, dark place. You can also use zipper-style plastic
bags, squeezing out all the air before sealing. When freezing, it is
acceptable to preslice the loaf so that you can remove only what you need
without defrosting the entire loaf. Snack-sized zippered bags are useful
for individual slices.
enriched bread, such as sandwich bread, is always best stored in plastic
and either frozen or kept in a cool, dark place (exposure to sunlight
causes the loaf to sweat, creating condensation in the wrapper and,
eventually, mold on the loaf). Presliced sandwich loaves are best for
freezing, allowing the removal of only the slices you are planning to use
(and they thaw much more quickly than whole loaves).
you have a frozen unsliced loaf and want to thaw it, pull it from the
freezer at least 2 hours before you need to use it. Do not try to
accelerate the thawing by putting it into the oven or microwave. This will
only dry it out. Of course, in an emergency, when you have to get bread on
the table and have forgotten to thaw it in advance, you can quickly thaw
it in the microwave or in a hot oven. The best way to prevent it from
drying out is to place it under a wet towel. Heat the oven to 400įF,
place the bread in a pan, and cover the pan with a towel that has been
soaked in warm water and then wrung out. Check on the towel every 10
minutes to see if it needs rewetting. It should take 20 to 30 minutes to
thaw out a standard-sized loaf, 10 to 20 minutes for a baguette. If you
want to restore a crackly crust to the bread, remove the towel for the
final few minutes and turn the oven up to 450įF.
Bread Storage Dontís
store bread in the refrigerator. It dries out, even when packaged in
sealed plastic bags.
store crusty breads in plastic bags or in plastic wrap unless you plan
to recrisp the crust in the oven.
store soft, enriched breads in paper bags unless you intend to dry
them out for bread crumbs or croutons.
store any bread that you intend to dry for crumbs in plastic bags or
plastic wrap. If the moisture cannot escape, the bread will eventually
store warm bread in plastic bags or plastic wrap. Wait until it has
completely cooled down (no warmth at all), to prevent condensation from
forming in the bag and thus accelerating mold development.
Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread
Juniperís Bread Book, I included a recipe for a variation of this
bread, but I believe this version is even better, encompassing all the
qualities one wants from a raisin bread. It is light, flavorful, loaded
with raisins, and it has a wonderful finish, filling your mouth with the
satisfying aftertaste of roasted walnuts. If you prefer not to use nuts,
eliminate them from the formula without any further changes (you may also
substitute other nuts, such as pecans or hazelnuts).
Makes two 11/2-pound loaves
(16 ounces) unbleached bread flour
(1.65 ounces) egg, slightly beaten
shortening, melted or at room temperature
buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
water, at room temperature
raisins, rinsed and drained
Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon in a
mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the egg,
shortening, buttermilk, and water. Stir together with a large spoon (or
mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients come
together and form a ball. Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems
too sticky or too dry and stiff.
Sprinkle flour on a counter, transfer the dough to the counter,
and begin kneading (or mixing on medium speed, switching to the dough
hook). The dough should be soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. Add
flour as you knead (or mix), if necessary, to achieve this texture. Knead
by hand for approximately 10 minutes (or by machine for 6 to 8 minutes).
Sprinkle in the raisins and walnuts during the final 2 minutes of kneading
(or mixing) to distribute them evenly and to avoid crushing them too much.
(If you are mixing by machine, you may have to finish kneading by hand to
distribute the raisins and walnuts evenly.) The dough should register 77į
to 81įF. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl,
rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until
the dough doubles in size.
Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form them into loaves.
Place each loaf in a lightly oiled 81/2 by 4 1/2-inch pan, mist the tops
with spray oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the
dough crests above the lips of the pans and is nearly doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350įF with the oven rack on the middle
shelf. Place the loaf pans on a sheet pan, making sure they are not
touching each other.
Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for
even baking and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, depending on
the oven. The finished breads should register 190įF in the center and be
golden brown on top and lightly golden on the sides and bottom. They
should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.
Immediately remove the breads from their pans and cool on a
rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing or serving.
profile: Enriched, standard dough; direct
method; commercial yeast
to make: 1 (15 minutes mixing; 31/2 hours fermentation, shaping, and
40 to 70 minutes baking)
An alternative to the method described here is to add a cinnamon
swirl. To make cinnamon sugar, stir together 1/2 cup granulated sugar and
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon. When shaping the dough, roll out each piece
with a rolling pin to a rectangle 5 inches wide by 8 inches long and
approximately 1/3 inch thick. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the surface of
the rectangles and then roll up the dough into a tight sandwich-style loaf
(page 81), pinching the seam closed with your fingers. When you slice the
baked bread, there will be a cinnamon swirl that not only looks pretty,
but will also add additional cinnamon-sugar flavor.
Another trick that adds flavor is to
brush the tops of the baked loaves with melted butter as soon as they come
out of the bread pans, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar. When the
bread cools, the top will have an additional sweet and crunchy flavor
The Bread Bakerís Apprentice.
Copyright © 2001 by Peter Reinhart. Excerpted by arrangement with Ten
Speed Press. $35. Available in local bookstores or call 800-841-BOOK or click