Did you know that a well-made sourdough loaf will keep for three to seven days in your kitchen if you keep it from drying out, while a yeasted loaf only lasts two to three days?
The team at Bread and Butter Bakery at Coast says this mainly to do with the acids produced during sourdough fermentation helping to retain water in the loaf and slow down the staling process. These acids also prevent mould from growing on the bread, therefore eliminating the need for preservatives in sourdough.
Whatever your favourite loaf is, you want it to stay fresh and delicious for as long as possible, so we asked the Bread and Butter baking gurus for some tips.
How to store bread
Cover and keep at room temperature: Bread kept in a paper bag, cloth bag, or wrapped in a tea towel will last three to seven days in a reasonably cool place. Wrapping the loaf in plastic will retain even more moisture but you risk stale odours and, eventually, mould, so we prefer not to. If you do, we suggest using paper or cloth first so the bread is not in direct contact with the plastic.
Wrap and refrigerate: This time you’ll definitely want to use plastic, or a reusable food wrap, to protect and retain water in the loaf. Yes, refrigeration stales bread fast, but it dramatically slows spoiling, and re-heating reverses the staling process (read on for more about this). If you mainly eat toast, this is a great solution and the bread will keep for two to three weeks.
Freeze: Fresh bread doesn’t toast as well as day old bread, so enjoy your bread fresh on day one, then slice and freeze any time from day two. Slices can be thawed or toasted from frozen and you’d never know the difference. Or freeze whole or half loaves – they thaw very close to the condition they were when frozen.
How to revive ‘stale’ bread
You just need to reheat it. The magic number is 60°C – when the interior hits that temperature, freshness is restored. Prepare to be amazed!
Toast it: Pop a slice in the toaster so the inside becomes soft and moist and the outside deliciously crunchy. Even a week old, a slice of our rye bread becomes soft and delicious when warmed briefly in the toaster.
Refresh (re-bake) it: Take a ‘stale’ loaf of sourdough bread, splash the top with water or toss half a cup of boiling water into a pan preheated in the oven, and re-bake at 180/200 degrees celcius (preheated; fan/conventional) to restore to its just-baked condition. Indicative times are: five to eight minutes for small loaves like baguette or ciabatta, 12 to 15 minutes for a 500-1000g loaf. Squeeze it and you will hear the crust crackle and feel that the inside has been restored to the soft and yielding crumb it had when it first came out of the oven. Once you have refreshed bread, it is best eaten the same day as it will quickly go stale.
Storing and refreshing pastries
Pastries won’t keep quite as well as bread, due to their lack of sourdough and generally being more delicate. However, you can keep pastries for the next day. To maintain maximum freshness, they can be refrigerated or frozen. In that case they will be best if restored in the oven. Thaw frozen pastries first. When refreshing, treat them more gently than bread – four minutes at 160°/180°C (fan/ conventional) will do the trick. Ideally leave them for 15 minutes before eating for the crust to crisp up and the interior to cool a bit.
For delicious pastries, bread or to buy high-quality organic flours to bake with at home, head to Bread and Butter Bakery at Coast or breadandbutter.nz/shop