A fresh loaf of bread right from the oven is soft, pillowy, fresh perfection. But, like many good things, it doesn’t last.
WHAT HAPPENS TO SOURDOUGH AFTER BAKING
Very soon after coming out of the oven bread begins to go through a process called starch retrogradation. In the oven the dough gelatinizes at 150°F. At this point the crumb structure is formed and the starch is absorbing moisture on its way to becoming semi-firm.
As the loaf cools down after baking – below the 150°F point, to be exact – the starch is no longer absorbing moisture; in fact, it is releasing it. And that is when bread begins to stale or go dry.
Baking with enriching additives such as eggs, sugar, fat, or dairy helps to slow down the starch retrogradation process, giving you a loaf that stays soft longer.
It is inevitable, though, that even the most enriched loaf will dry up. When this happens you can revive the loaf, or use it for something new.
REVIVING A LOAF FOR FRESH EATING
The Oven Method
Splash some water over the top of your bread, just enough to become slightly damp. Place the loaf in a 250°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Watch it closely and remove it when warm. Too long in the oven and you’ll get dried-out toast.
The Microwave Method
Wrap a damp towel around the bread and place on a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on high for 10 seconds. Check that the loaf is warm and soft; if not, repeat.
UPCYCLE THE LOAF TO A NEW PURPOSE
Sometimes bread is beyond saving, or maybe it is simply better to use dry bread for a purpose where its dryness is actually beneficial. From french toast to bread crumbs, there are manyways to use stale bread.
All is not lost when your loaf of sourdough bread goes dry. Revive it for fresh eating or use it in some delicious dishes!