Bread's Gone Stale? We've Got The Cure

Did your rustic loaf of artisan bread get as dry as an oversized crouton? Here's how to freshen it up so it's almost as good as new again.

How to Freshen up Stale Bread in 5 Easy Steps

Reviving Stale Bread
Vanessa Greaves

1. Check for mold. If your bread looks like a science project, it's too far gone. If it's merely dry and stale, there's still hope.

2. Add moisture. Brush or spritz water all over the bread. Use more if the loaf is very dry and/or has a thick crust. Use less if the loaf has a thin crust or just needs a little pick-me-up. I've actually run the crust of a stale loaf directly under the faucet for a brief second without the bread getting soggy. However, if the loaf is cut with the inner bread exposed, it's better to use a brush on the crust.

3. Wrap it. Use aluminum foil to make an airtight wrap around a very dry, dense loaf. For a day-old baguette, you could get away with putting it back in the paper bag it came in; just roll the top closed.

4. Heat it. Put the bread in a cold oven, then turn the heat to 300° F. Let the loaf slowly heat up for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the density and dryness of the bread. Start checking the bread after 10 minutes. Here's what's happening: The water turns into steam, which is trapped by the wrapping. The bread absorbs the steam and plumps right up.

5. Crisp it. When the inside of the bread feels moist enough for your taste, open up the wrapping and put the bread back in the oven, right on the rack, for about 5 minutes. If the bread is in a paper bag, remove it from the bag before putting it back into the oven. This step draws excess moisture out of the crust and makes it pleasingly crisp again. Plus, your kitchen will smell like warm, fresh bread. And what's not to love about that?

Tip: You could speed up the heating process by wrapping a damp towel around the loaf and microwaving it for 10 seconds at a time. The drawback to microwaving is that the bread can take on a rubbery texture. Having tried both, I have to say I prefer the oven method.

There are other money-saving things to do with stale bread, too. After all, it's the main ingredient for French toast, croutons, and bread puddings.


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