Making delicious bread can be time consuming so, when you set out to make a perfect loaf, you should definitely consider making extra and freezing it for later. Next time you want homemade bread, it will be ready for you!
Luckily, a lot of bread will freeze quite well which means it will taste just as good when you defrost it as when it was first baked. Follow these tips to make sure that you freeze your bread correctly and lock it its delicious taste.
What Kind of Bread Freezes Well?
Lots of breads will keep well in the freezer if stored properly. That means you can freeze your favorite baguettes and yeast based breads as well as your homemade quick breads (like banana bread or zucchini bread).
In addition, you can even freeze bread dough! Pretty much any bread can be frozen and then defrosted if you store it correctly.
How to Freeze Baked Yeast Breads
The first kind of bread we will take a look at is yeast risen breads. This includes any kind of bread that has been made with yeast like a baguette, a whole wheat boule or a delicious Italian loaf. You want to freeze the bread when it is at it’s freshest.
So, if you are planning on freezing your yeast risen bread, freeze it the same day it is baked if possible. The longer the bread sits on the counter, the dryer it will get and it will slowly go down in quality.
You especially want the bread to still have it’s peak moisture content when you know if will be going in the freezer. Freezers can be very drying in general, so any extra moisture will help your bread!
Once you take the bread out of the oven or after you buy a loaf or two at the store, make sure that they are completely cooled. While you do want the bread to be moist and tender, they should be at room temperature before wrapping or condensation will occur, simply making the bread wet. Moist bread is good, wet bread is not so good!
Tightly wrap the bread in plastic wrap, pulling the plastic around the bread as securely as possible. Turn the wrapped loaf and wrap it in a second layer of plastic, enfolding the plastic in the opposite direction.
Again, pull the plastic as tightly as possible to really protect the bread. The idea is to completely cover the loaf, making sure no air can reach it. This will prevent the yeast risen bread from drying out in the freezer.
Once the bread is wrapped in plastic wrap, place it in a zippered freezer bag if possible. While some loaves may be too big for a freezer bag, doing this will add an extra layer of protection for the loaf.
You can also wrap the bread in a final layer of foil to keep it protected. This is a great idea especially if you plan to freeze the bread for an extended period of time.
Freeze the yeast risen bread for up to one month then follow our directions on how to thaw it properly!
How to Freeze Quick Breads
Freezing a quick bread, or one that has no yeast, is almost exactly the same as freezing a yeast risen bread. You want to freeze the bread when it is at it’s peak freshness, it should be wrapped as tightly as possible, and you want to wrap it at room temperature to prevent condensation from occurring inside the wrapping.
Most quick breads are small enough that you should be able to fit them into a zippered freezer bag after wrapping them in plastic wrap.
The major difference between freezing a quick bread and one that is yeast risen is that a quick bread will hold up for much longer in the freezer. When wrapped correctly, you can keep a quick bread in the freezer for up to three months.
This extended freezer time is due to the higher moisture content in quick breads. They will not dry out as quickly in the freezer and stay soft for longer. All the more reason to make an extra loaf or two and freeze them!
How to Freeze Bread Dough
Freezing yeast risen bread dough is a fantastic way to have fresh bread anytime you’d like, without all the mixing and proofing the dough when you are in a hurry later on.
Make your yeast bread dough as you usually do. Allow the dough to rise once, following your recipes directions. Punch down the dough and shape it into loaves.
At this step, place the dough you would like to freeze on a lined sheet tray and cover the tray completely with plastic wrap. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze the dough loaves until firm, about 6-8 hours.
Once the loaves are frozen solid and easy to handle, wrap them individually in plastic wrap, stretching the plastic as tightly as possible around the dough. Return the wrapped dough to the freezer.
Frozen dough will stay good for about 1 month in the freezer, but longer than that may decrease the strength of the yeast and also dry out the dough.
How to Freeze Sliced Bread
If your local grocery store is having an amazing sale on sliced bread, you should stock up and put some in your freezer to save for later! Sliced, store bought bread is usually already wrapped in two layers of plastic, one directly on the sliced loan and the second layer is a bag around the bread.
These two layers will keep the sliced bread fresh for about a month which means you can just stick the bread right into the freezer.
If you want to freeze the sliced bread for longer than a month, wrap the packaged loaf in an additional layer of foil. This will prevent the bread from getting freezer burn and extend the freezer time to about 3 months.
How to Use Frozen Bread Dough
When you are ready to bake your frozen bread dough, take it out of the freezer and unwrap it. Place it on a lined sheet tray and cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Place it in the fridge the day before you intend to bake it to allow it to slowly thaw.
You can also remove the dough from the freezer, unwrap it and place it on a sheet tray then set it on the counter to thaw for about 3-4 hours (the time may vary depending on how big your loaves are).
Make sure the dough is completely defrosted and spongy when you touch it. It should feel as soft and fluffy as the day you made it! Bake the bread as directed by the recipes instructions and then enjoy fresh bread without the hassle!
How to Thaw Frozen Quick Bread
Quick breads are very easy to thaw after they have been frozen. Simply take them out of the freezer and place the bread, still fully wrapped, in the fridge. It will be thawed and ready to enjoy the following day!
You can also choose to unwrap the frozen bread and let it thaw at room temperature which should take about 4 hours for a standard sized loaf. You can follow this same defrosting procedure for store bough sliced bread- it will that in much the same manner as a quick bread!
Once thawed, you can keep the bread at room temperature for about 4-5 days or in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy the bread as if it were freshly baked!
How to Thaw a Yeast Risen Bread
To defrost a baked, yeast risen bread, take it out of the freezer and unwrap it completely. Place it on a sheet tray and loosely rewrap with plastic. Place the loaf in the fridge to thaw slowly overnight.
Before you are ready to enjoy the bread, place it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about three to five minutes (longer for a thicken loaf of bread). Returning the bread back to the oven will help make the crust crispy again and “refresh” the bread.
In addition, it will be nice and warm when it comes out of the oven! Wrap any extra bread that you do not eat and keep it at room temperature for about 2-3 days.
How to Tell if Frozen Bread is Bad
If you have had a loaf or two of bread in your freezer for a while, you may be wondering if it is still okay to eat. While eating frozen, baked bread will not harm you, it just may not taste very good.
Here are a few things to look for when assessing if your bread is still worth defrosting and eating:
- If he plastic wrap is loose on the bread or a portion of the bread is poking out of the wrapping, it may no longer be good. It is likely that the bread has been exposed to the harsh air in the freezer and will be dry and unappetizing. A poorly wrapped bread may not even last a week in the freezer- be sure to wrap that bread tightly!
- If you unwrap the frozen bread only to find that it has white patches all over it, that is another sign that the bread is no longer good. The white spots are not mold (which may be your first inclination!) but dry patches. This can be caused either by the surface of the bread being exposed to the freezer air, from being frozen too long and drying out or, the white patches can be from the bread being wrapped while it was still hot or warm. If the bread was wrapped while warm, condensation likely formed between the bread and the plastic wrap, making the bread wet. That water then froze on the breads surface. Once again, eating a bread with white spots from the freezer will not harm you but it will not taste good so it may be best to discard it!
- If you froze dough to make bread later on, you will know that the dough has gone bad if it doesn’t rise when baked. In fact, you will be able to tell that the dough is bad even before you bake it. If the thawed dough does not spring back when touched, but just cave in, the yeast is likely no longer active and, when baked, you will not get the nice fluffy bread you are hoping for.
Freezing and thawing bread and bread dough can be a great way to stock up on your favorite loaves. In addition, a frozen, thawed bread is almost as delicious as one that has been freshly baked!
Be sure to wrap the bread well, preventing any air from getting into the wrapping. Wrap it well and you will have bread freezing success!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.