Re-heating your bread in the oven is an excellent way to bring back the bread crust and serve soft and warm bread at your dinner table.
When I run my bread baking classes I always get asked a lot of interesting questions. In today blog post I wanted to share with you my top tips on how to warm bread in the oven.
I’ve developed these tips over the last twenty years of baking bread, soft rolls and sourdough bread and it’s always great to be able to pass my knowledge on to new bread bakers.
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Why would you want to warm bread in the oven?
To serve warm bread
Once your bread cools down when you bake it first, it starts to slowly go hard. This is absolutely normal process, but it’s nice to be able to re-create that warm straight from the oven fresh taste of your bread by re-heating it again.
To bring back the bread crust
This is particularly great with rustic, crusty breads like wholemeal breads and sourdough. When your bread cools down first after you’ve baked it, the crust is lovely and crunchy (whilst the inside of your bread is soft).
As the steam escapes and the humidity, temperature equalises between the inside and the crust, the crust itself will start to soften. If you wrap your bread in plastic or even paper bag (and place it in your bread bin) the changes are that by next day, the crust will soften.
Once you re-heat your bread in the oven, the crust slightly hardens again, which replicates freshly baked bread.
To revive or re-fresh your bread
If you bake your own bread at home, you’ll know that by second day, the bread is starting to get a little harder and by 3-4 day the bread looses even more of it’s softness (as it’s loosing water and is drying out).
By re-heating your bread, you are refreshing the dough and if you lightly spray your bread with water, you’ll be also adding that lost moisture back to your bread.
To pretend you’ve just baked your bread!
My bread baking students always laugh at this one, but in all seriousness, if you are planning a dinner party the last thing you want to do is to spend the whole day baking bread!
The smart thing here is to bake the bread or bread rolls before the event, freeze them and then defrost and re-heat it just before your guests arrive. The smell of freshly baked bread will still fill your house and you don’t need to stress with baking bread on the day.
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How to warm up bread in the oven
The following instructions are for bread that has been fully baked and either frozen (and defrosted before the baking) or 1-3 days old bread.
Since I’ve not bought commercially produced bread for over twenty years, I give you instructions for homemade bread, but the same will apply to any rustic or crusty bread or sourdough.
If you warm up sliced toast bread, make sure it’s wrapped in a foil and half the time that you leave the bread in the oven.
Heat up your oven to 180C or 350 F (or adjust your oven close to these temperatures if you are already preparing your dinner or lunch and you have something else baking in the oven)
Once the oven reaches the right temperature, place your bread in the oven either as it is (no baking tray) or on a baking tray.
Warm up your bread for 5-10 minutes maximum, depending on the size of your bread. Smaller bread takes less time, large bread can stay in the oven for 7-10 minutes.
If you are re-heating small dinner rolls, 3-4 minutes is usually enough
Remove from the oven and serve straightaway
Keep warm for longer by wrapping the bread in a clean tea-towel and presenting it to your dinner guests in a bread basket.
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Here are my extra top tips on how to warm up your bread in oven even better. They will make a marginal difference in how your bread taste and looks, especially if you’ve already mastered the basics of re-heating your bread in oven.
Spray your bread with water
To prevent the bread from drying out too much, spray your bread with a bit of water just before you put it in the hot oven. The water will evaporate as the bread warms up, without drying it out.
This will give you lovely crust on your bread.
Wrap the bread in a foil
Another way to keep the moisture in as you are re-heating your bread is to lightly spray your bread with water and then wrap it in a baking tin foil.
The tin foil will keep the bread moisture in and you will end up with a lovely soft bread all roung. You will probably not have a very crusty bread, more like a lovely soft crust and soft texture inside your bread.
Make sure the bread is fully defrosted if it was previously frozen
Since are just warming up our bread and not baking it, you want to make sure that your bread is fully defrosted before you place it to the oven. If the bread is not fully defrosted, you might end up with cold bread inside and warm, crusty bread on the outside!
Don’t use a baking tray (for a large loaf)
This tip is great, especially for a large loaf. Simply place the bread in the middle shelf of your oven without any baking tray and re-heat your bread for 10 minutes. You’ll get lovely crust all round.
If you are warming up smaller breads, such as bread roll or bread sticks, then using baking tray is more practical.
Don’t slice your bread before you reheat it
It might be tempting to slice your bread before you warm it up in the oven, but you are only going to make the bread dry out quicker.
Keep the bread as it is, re-heat it and then slice it just before you are ready to serve it.
If the bread is already sliced, slightly sprinkle with water, wrap it in a tin foil and warm carefully on a slightly lower oven setting. This will warm up your sliced bread without making it too dry.
Can I re-heat my bread more than once?
In theory, yes you can.
But every time you do that, your bread will get drier and drier. You can wrap the bread in tin foil or spray it with some water to prevent it from drying out too much.
From experience, I probably wouldn’t re-heat the same bread more than twice, since there is no need for that (unless you re-heated your bread and then it cooled down before your dinner guests arrived.
This blog post was originally written on 21 November 2021 and last updated on 2 December 2022