Confessions of a Baker

I am going to make a confession to you and I am not even Catholic! Some years ago I entered a culinary competition in which I won first place for the sourdough bread that I made. I needed to be at the competition quite early and the executive chef in the restaurant that I worked in wanted me to stay up all night, the night before, and bake the bread so that it would be fresh. That is what all the other chef contestants would be doing, he told me. No way!

I am not at my best when I have had zero sleep and have NEVER been able to pull off an all-nighter and survive the next day. So I promised him I would do just what he suggested, but in reality I made the bread — several loaves in fact — the week before and froze them. My palms are getting sweaty just writing these words down for the first time; I guess I have a guilty conscience.

I have to admit that I am the Freezer Queen. I know just how to wrap my breads most successfully so that they will not taste stale or freezer burnt. The key, I have found, is to allow the freshly baked bread to cool completely. Then I wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap, and then in aluminum foil. Then I place the mummified bread in a plastic bag, sucking out all of the air and securing it with a twist tie. Now I date and label it, and place it in the pyramids, or in my case, my freezer.

When I am ready to actually eat the bread, I remove it from the freezer and unwrap it until the only layer that remains is the plastic wrap. I let the bread thaw at room temperature and then heat it up in a very hot oven, say 450 degrees, for about 10-15 minutes. The crust becomes nice and crusty again and the bread is warm and chewy.

Getting back to the competition, I took two of my best frozen loaves, thawed them and re-heated them in the hotel’s kitchen where the competition took place and they were DELICIOUS! The best part was that the judges loved my bread and so did the other chefs in the competition!

So try putting your bread into cryogenic freeze sometime, then thaw and re-heat it as I have suggested! Let me know how it turns out, but DO NOT feel guilty!

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail