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Baking Bread and Your Freezer
There's a lot of bread in our freezer. In our exuberance, we often bake more bread than we can eat in a day or two. What isn't given away goes in the freezer.
Sometimes, we bake bread just to store. It's wonderful to have homemade bread on hand for those periods when we're just too busy to bake. And it's always a good feeling to have bread on hand for an emergency.
There are three ways to use bread from your freezer. Most commonly, the freezer is raided for that special bread (like Canadian Cheese Bread) for a sandwich or for fresh homemade bread for breakfast toast. To accommodate those raids, we keep lots of sliced bread in the freezer. A slice or two of bread is snapped from the frozen loaf and dropped in the toaster while the remaining loaf goes back to the freezer. As long as you don't mind toasted bread for your sandwich, an array of breads are available for breakfast or sandwiches. This way, each kid gets to choose the bread that he or she wants.
Bread can be removed from the freezer and allowed to thaw on the counter. Use it within a day or so just like you would fresh bread.
Frozen bread can also be reheated and recharged in the oven. Defrost the bread completely on the counter then reheat it in the oven for ten minutes at the same temperature at which it was baked.
The secret for quality bread from your freezer is starting with the freshest loaves possible. If you freeze the bread as soon as it is completely cooled, it will taste as if it came from the oven when thawed.
To freeze bread-sliced or unsliced-place it in a plastic bag with the excess air pressed out. For longer storage, cover the plastic bag with aluminum foil. Since air will slowly migrate through the walls of a plastic bag, plastic alone will work for only a month or two (heavier, freezer-type bags will help). If frozen in foil or freezer wrap, bread can be stored for three or four months and still maintain top quality. Mark all bread going into your freezer with the date and the type of bread to be sure that you can tell the difference between Old Wisconsin Cheddar Bread and Sour Cream Onion Bread.
Place the new loaves behind the loaves already in the freezer to help rotate stocks.
By the way, never refrigerate bread. Bread will stale faster in the refrigerator than on the counter.
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© 2004, The Prepared Pantry
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