Storing bread: What’s the best way?

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We try to make only enough bread to eat on the same day, but if you have leftovers, the best way to store homemade bread is unwrapped and cut-side down on a non-porous surface like a plate, at room temperature (not in the refrigerator).  This preserves the crust a little more than if you put it into a plastic bag, which softens the crust very quickly.  The exception is pita bread, which is soft-crusted in the first place and is great in a plastic bag–but wait till it cools before bagging.

How long can you store bread this way? Maybe 24 hours. You can extend that a little if you put it in a plastic bag (refrigeration optional), and it’s often OK for toasting a day or two later.

More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.

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If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with others using one of the social sharing buttons above. Thanks, Jeff and Zoë

168 thoughts on “Storing bread: What’s the best way?

  1. Great! I’ll get started tonight. I’ve heard you’re supposed to ship bread by letting it cool completely, wrapping it in plastic, wrapping the plastic in foil, sticking the foil-wrapped loaf in a ziplock bag, padding the bag with newspapers sending it with expedited shipping. But in your method you never seem to want the bread kept airtight, so I thought I’d better ask if you had any warnings about that method.

    Also: I want to make a loaf of gluten-free stollen for myself, so I was going to try making the gluten-free brioche and adding the fruit and cardamom to it, and replacing some of the liquid with brandy. Is there a reason that shouldn’t work?

    • Hi Mary,

      This sounds like a great packing method for the stollen. The powdered sugar may not all make it on the bread, but it will be ok.

      The g-f stollen should work, but go easy on the fruit or it may get a bit heavy.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  2. Hi – I just baked my first loaf, the plain and simple whole wheat, and it was the best bread I have ever made (possibly even ever eaten!). Thank you for introducing me to this amazing artisanal method. My question is, can I use something other than plastic wrap to cover the bread when it is resting/rising? With my old bread method, I would use a tea towel (called dish cloth in the States, I think?) to cover the dough when rising. Could this be used to substitute? I don’t really want be using quite so much plastic wrap on a regular basis if I can avoid it. Thanks.

    • Jessica: Towels tend to stick to very-wet dough. Top the loaf with a roomy overturned bowl or pot and that creates the same humid interior environment– doesn’t have to be plastic wrap. Jeff

  3. Great! I will try that. That’s what I would do when the dough was resting, for my old method – the towel was for during the rise. By the way, I tried the raisin-cinnamon bagels with the plain and simple whole wheat dough. Very yummy, but a lot more tricky to work with than the artisanal loaf shape. The raisins fell out all over the place, and making a hole and stretching them out was quite delicate – several of them broke and were hard to mend into a circle again. Any further tips on bagel making?

    • Jessica: Whole wheat bagels are definitely more challenging than white-flour bagels (as in our 1st book). The extra gluten prevents breakage, ensures a more regular shape, and seems to “encase” raisins better.

      But I’ve had good luck with whole wheat cinn-raisin bagels. Consider pushing the raisins back under the surface as you work on them, can even do that after the bagel-shape is formed. They’ll never be as regular as white-flour bagels, but they’ll be delicious.

      Are you using a non-commercial WW flour? Home-ground, for example? Or a co-op brand? If so, try again with a very standard commercial product like Gold Medal Whole Wheat and see if that fixes the problem. Then adjust the liquid so the co-op, home-ground, or other looks more like the standard dough. Jeff

  4. I have a question related to the recipe on page 91 of ABin5, English Granary-Style Bread. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup malt powder. Which one? Diastatic, non diastatic, malted milk powder? KAF sells all three. Could you please be more specific? I’ve made at least 30 loaves using malted milk powder and I’m wondering if that’s what I should be using as there are other options. My bread is very dense but tasty with this ingredient. I recently noticed the recipe on the back of KAF’s malted wheat flakes and it calls for barley malt extract for their recipe for granary-style bread. It’s like a syrup, I’ve discovered, after lengthy research and I can only buy it at a store selling beer making ingredients. ???????? Help!!!

    • Hi Charlotte,

      We tested it with non diastatic malt powder, which is mostly for the sweet flavor. This means that using malted milk powder will add the sweetness, but I have not tested with it, so I’m not sure what else it will do to the dough. This bread does tend to be dense, but I’m not sure if you are saying it seems overly so?

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. Hi Again, Just for complete clarification, are you saying that the recipe in ABin5 on pg91 calls for 1/4C NON diastatic malt powder? In future it might be a good idea to clarify this for bakers like me who are not pros and need clear instructions, especially when it comes to ingredients. Thanks for your help.

  6. I would like to try the GF Olive Oil Bread pg 238 in HBin5MaD, but I am allergic to soy. Would quinoa flour work as a sub? If so, do I need to make any adjustments?

    • Filo: It’s a relatively low proportion of the total flour, so you can probably get away with substitutions here. Soy absorbs a fair amount of water, so the moisture may change and you’ll have to experiment with more or maybe less water.

      Another options would be just so scale up the other three grain ingredients a little bit to make up about a half-cup– of the soy you need to omit. Again, may need to adjust the water too. Jeff

  7. have tried 8 recipes from HBI5MADAY—-love book [am age 74] wondering why BERRY BREAD recipe on p. 197 has no egg or oil in it——may i add it?

    • Hi Mrs. Telford,

      So glad you are enjoying the breads. You can try adding some eggs and or oil in place of some of the liquids in the bread. It will give the loaf a different texture, but it could be really wonderful!

      Thanks, Zoë

  8. I have a question in general about dough. “I have the Healthy Bread in 5″ book and my favorite recipe is the soft whole wheat sandwich bread. I am at a point where I am going to be on bedrest soon, but I love having the fresh baked bread. Is there any way I can make this dough and NOT cook it before I put it in the freezer? I’ve read your book from cover to cover (LOVE IT) complete with notes and tabs. I am well aware of the temperature issue, but thought I would ask just incase. I know some doughs in the supermarket for roles and such are frozen when you buy them so my hope what that there would be some way I could do it. I’d love to take it out, let is rise and then cook it, but I might just have to be content with cooking it before, freezing it, and just thawing it. Please advise. Thank you, Catherine

    • Hi Catherine,

      Yes, you can freeze all of the doughs in the book. Just wrap it very well and then freeze it. You just thaw it out in the refrigerator and then bake it as if it came out of the bucket.

      Enjoy the bread! Zoë

  9. Hello, I like ur book so much that making fresh bread is made easy. I live in HK. I guess it’s the humid weather makes difference about storing bread. I tried store my bread as u mentioned above but the crust become soggy and not crusty in a few hrs. I tried keep them covered by towel, paper towel and plastic bag but all failed to keep the crust. I ready want to have crusty bread in the morning without turned on my oven or just grab some nice bread when I am on the go. Is there any idea I can keep by bread fresh with nice crust in such humid city? Thx.

  10. Hello Jeff,
    Thx for your reply. Unfortunately I don’t have a grill which is not common in HK household. I will make flat bread on the stove instead like pizza, pita and naan. But how to keep these thin and soft crusted bread in humid and hot city? I think I have read somewhere on ur blog that thin breads should be eaten fresh and are not good to keep for longer. Pls help coz I can’t take my homemade bread out of home until now even though I’ve been making lots of bread based on ur book. Now I still need to buy bread from supermarket if I want to bring a sandwich out. I really don’t like those store-bought bread which contains preservative and additive, plus not taste as good as homemade based on ur recipes . Thx.

    • HK – I live in Hong Kong and just starting to do more bread baking. Have you figured it out yet? I would like to know…

      What I have been doing is really freezing my breads after cutting up and then we will reheat in a toaster or a toaster oven.

  11. Love the HBi5M…always seem to have a loaf or two going. Any chance the bread can be baked in a toaster oven? I hate heating up the oven in this hot weather….although I am guessing the air flow won’t be adequate.

    • Gwen: We know it works in a toaster oven– students have written. They even make a little stone for them, I’m told. Jeff

    • Hi Pam,

      You may want to parbake the loaves and instruct the recipients to toast them in the oven for about 10 minutes before eating to crisp up the crust. Then you can wrap them in a nice plastic bag with a decorative bow.

      Thanks, Zoë

  12. Hi, again. I make the za’atar flatbread using the master recipe. The only things I do different is I flip the loaf once I set it on the oiled pan so that there’s a light coating of oil on the top to hold the spice on and I poke the loaf with my finger again right before it goes in the oven.

    That being said, the loaves always turn out phenomenal, but they don’t really taste the same if we go to eat any leftovers the next day. The bread seems to get denser and drier at the same time. Is this just one of those make-and-eat-the-same-day loaves?

    (By the way, the challah for Rosh Hashanah was PHENOMENAL! I even froze an extra loaf and used it to make French toast when we broke our Yom Kippur fast.)

  13. I have just started baking your breads and am having so much fun and success with them. Even my grandchildren love them, especially the soft whole wheat sandwich bread. I have been storing the artisan breads like you said but was wondering can you store the breads made in loaves in plastic bags? I’m using my new convection oven and they are coming out great. Thanks.

    • Hi Marlene,

      You can store the baked loaves in plastic, if you don’t mind a softer crust. But, because there are no preservatives in homemade breads, they won’t stay fresh for very long. You may want to freeze the loaves and recrisp when you are ready to eat!

      Thanks and I hope you’ll get those grandkids in the kitchen to make bread with you! ;) Zoë

      • Thanks Zoe. With five of them eating the bread, it doesn’t last that long!!! I watched the new pizza book video and loved it. Have it on my wish list on Amazon. I told my daughter about the pizza party and we are going to try it with the grands.

        Marlene

  14. I’ve just started using artisan bread in 5 minutes a day, love it!

    Any thoughts on storing the bread in a traditional style bread box?

    • Hi Colin,

      Sure, you can certainly store it in the box, but any bread without preservatives won’t have a very long shelf life. The more whole grains, the better the loaves tend to last.

      Thanks, Zoë

  15. I have some dough (master recipe with added garlic and herbs) that has been in the fridge for 19 days. Is it too late to use it? Should I throw it away? Or can I make bread out of it? It looks ok, still has bubbles, smells a little sour- but not necessarily in a bad way. Are there any dangers?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Reesa,

      It should be just fine to use! When I first met Jeff he was letting his dough go for 30 days! That is too long in my opinion, but it is still ok to use as long as there is no sign of mold.

      Your dough may not have a lot of rising power left, so you may want to make flatbreads out of the dough.

      Thanks, Zoë

  16. We love your books, we have three of them.
    My question is basic — there are only two of us and we cannot eat that much bread or pizzas.
    Even half of the recipe seems too much.
    Do you have any advice for making just small batches for two folks to us.
    Thanks very much for your time.

  17. I don’t understand what you mean by storing the dough in a lidded container, but not air tight. What does that mean? Just to leave the lid setting on the top, not actually sealed?

      • In “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” in many recipes, including Pg 125, and 127 you say to store dough “in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container. I think you mean not to snap the lid on, but then wouldn’t the dough dry out? I am anxious to give the recipes a try, but want to make sure I store the dough correctly.

      • Hi Darlene,

        You can put the lid on, just don’t snap it shut. There should not be large gaps, or the dough will dry out, as you suggest.

        Thanks and enjoy all the bread! Zoë

  18. last night made 1st loaf of Apple Strudel Bread from HBin5 – using the WW Brioche dough – overall turned out great – wonderful taste – how do I store the baked enriched apple bread? Would it need to be refrigerated? I’d like to take the loaf to my parents tomorrow.

    also, any suggestions for making mini loaves (6 x 4 inch)? same baking temperature – 350 degrees? maybe 20 minutes? thinking ahead to Christmas.
    thanks for your wonderful recipes and books.

    • Thea: Our stuff’s meant to be eaten fresh, not really for next day– there are no preservatives of course. Refrigeration will make the crust tough and dry, I think you can skip it. Plastic bag at rm temp instead. Jeff

  19. In one of the videos, Zoe put a hole in the lid so she could stack things on top of her buckets. How big of a hole? 1/4 inch or smaller?

  20. Hi,Jeff and Zoe
    I bought Healthy bread in 5 mins.
    I have some questions and need your help to know how to store the dough correctly.

    why the dough can store 14 days?( add vital wheat gluten or put it in the freezer?)
    If i have no vital wheat gluten,What can I use to replace it?
    If it smells a little sour,can it still use safely?
    Thanks.

  21. Hi:
    Just bought your AB in 5 book and I’m dying to try my 1st recipe, but have a dumb question. Does the dough storage container have to be plastic? I have an 8 qt enamel-coated cooking pot that I never use. The lid sits on top loosely enough to let air escape. Would that do?

  22. In Healthy Bread in five minutes a day-page 10 –white whole wheat flour- advice is not to replace 1:1 for unbleached white flour- but now mention of correct ratio- so if the recipe calls for 3 cups of unbleached flour, how much white whole wheat flour does one use?

    • Hi cehmd,

      Unfortunately it doesn’t really work that way. I would need to know what other flours are in the recipe and determine if you need to add more water or even some vital wheat gluten to the mix. White whole wheat is the same as regular whole wheat and can be swapped equally for that.

      If there is a particular recipe that you are trying to work with, let me know.

      Thanks, Zoë

  23. I have a general question about bread storage…

    I understand your concept of keeping it cut side down on a non-porous surface, but my situation is that I have a dog that sheds constantly (he is healthy, just the nature of his coat), so I was wondering, would it hurt to cover with a dish-cloth or similar since it would allow air movement?

    Thank you so much…

  24. How do I store loaf bread? Should it be in the fridge or out in room temp? I live in socal so the weather is pretty consistent..

  25. Wanting to try the master recipe for the original 5 min Artisan Bread. My question is I only have bleached all purpose flour, can I use that? I don’t have any of your books yet, they are at the top of my books to purchase list. Thank you so much for all the work you both put into the books and you web site.

  26. First, I have all 3 books and love every single recipe that I’ve tried.

    In the pizza book, I really love the Neopolitan pizza dough but the first batch I made was extremely sticky and somewhat difficult to handle. Is this normal? I had to use a significant amount of flour to get the dough rolled out. It still tasted amazing, but I wasn’t sure if I was doing something wrong.

    • Not that we’ve seen, Sara, but usual solution is as you tried. Any substitutions at all? If all else fails— more flour

  27. What is the best way to “reheat” a baked loaf? I made the ABin5 master recipe and baked 2 loaves at once last night; ate one (yum) and have one leftover. Would like to use for lunch today(about 14 hours later), but I would like a slight warming to it. How to best do that?

  28. My daughters have a bakery at our local Farmer’s Market and are selling the ABin5 loaves they have made. However, since we have to bake them the day before– and we make about 20 different loaves– how can we be sure to have the bread fresh the next day? How should we store it or set it up for sale. In the past we have packaged them in plastic bags once they are cool. However, if I have read correctly– it softens the crust and may dry out the crumb. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. BC

    • Hi Beth,

      How exciting! I wish I had better news for you, but this is exactly why the term “bakers’ hours” was coined, because bakers get up before the break of dawn to make fresh bread to sell that day. The products that are left over are sold as “day old” because they aren’t as fresh. Keeping the bread unwrapped in baskets is how many display them at our local farmer’s markets, which preserves the crust, then they put them in paper bags.

      One way to solve this is to sell par-baked loaves, which can be baked about 80% of the way, bagged in plastic and sent home to be crisped up in the oven. It means your customers will have to turn on their ovens, but they will have a gorgeous crust at the end.

      Hope this helps and good luck to your daughters, it sounds like a wonderful business!

      Zoë

  29. One of the things that attracted me to your method is the prospect of having homemade sandwich bread to use for our lunches. The problem with any bread is how quickly is dries out and goes stale, and at this time, we don’t go through an entire loaf of sandwich in one day. Do you have any suggestions for storing a sandwich loaf so that is lasts a little better for 2-3 days?

    • At that storage length, you have to do more than what we recommend in our FAQs tab (above), click on “Storing bread: What’s the best way to do it?” But for 2-3 days, gotta store it– that’s what my father-in-law does. It works, but tends to be better as toast.

      Problem– that is why the food industry invented preservatives, which we don’t use! But then, I bake most days. Bagels freeze pretty well, which book do you have, I’ll direct you to a bagel recipe?

      • Thank you.

        I have both books; though I only recently purchased the “Healthier” book and have yet to bake anything from it. In truth I just started baking with your method a couple of months ago. I haven’t tried bagels yet, but those would be fun to try. I’ll keep playing.

      • How does your pita bread freeze? My little ones eat a fair amount of pita bread. And when you say to wrap the raw dough well for freezing, what exactly do you mean? Plastic wrap? I find that the dough in the middle of the batch is much more wet and difficult to shape, so I might have trouble wrapping it well.

      • You can always use a lot of flour if the dough is getting wetter with aging, but basically, already-baked frozen pitas are decent too. By “wrap well,” we’ve left it vague so people can find what works for them– obviously an airtight container would be best, but plastic ziplocks or even just plastic wrap do a decent job too.

  30. Hi! I am wanting to make about 10 loafs of the European Peasant Bread (New ABin5 book) for Saturday morning to have ready to leave my house by 8am. I do have 2 ovens and 2 stones, so that it will only take me the amount of time to bake 5 loaves (I have successfully made 2 loaves in a row before, so I’m pretty sure 5 will be okay) but I still won’t have the time (or at least I’m not going to get up early enough to have the time!!!) to make the loaves in the morning. How do you recommend I store them overnight (I would make them late Friday evening) so they are as fresh as possible when I deliver them on Saturday morning. I do have bakery type bags that I use when giving away bread (it makes it look really cool and people get a kick out of it!!). Thank you for any tips you can provide!!!

    • Hi Becca,

      If you need to bake them the night before there really isn’t much you need to do with them. I’d just leave them out. If you wrap them in plastic it may ruin the crust. If you don’t want to leave them exposed you can put them in a paper bag, but don’t do that until they are completely cooled.

      Enjoy! Zoë

  31. I love your bread and typically make the basic healthy Master Recipe. I do enjoy eating fresh bread daily but I cannot go through an entire 1 pound loaf in even 3 days sometimes – and I don’t like they way it gets soggy in plastic bag or fridge. Can I make a 1/2 pound loaf? If so, what resting time and baking time do you recommend?
    thanks!

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