If you are one of my regular customers or you use my recipes to make your own bread, here are some ideas to help use your loaves for maximum benefit. Sourdough is special so we don’t want to waste a crumb!
First, don’t put your boules in plastic until they are completely cool. I do this right before bed the day I bake it. The bread is still gassing off and it will create condensation in the bag and ruin your crust. When you are ready to store it, a ziplock works a bit better than plastic wrap.
I leave my bread in the pantry for about 4 days, and if it isn’t already gone, I let it spend the rest of its life in the fridge. It will mold more easily than commercial bread because it’s not full of dead junk 🙂
Sourdough freezes well. If you would like to freeze all or part of the loaf, wrap it in 2 layers of plastic wrap and then put that into a freezer bag. This works well for singles or small families who won’t eat a whole loaf in a week. When you are ready to defrost it, just set it on the counter. The crust will not be quite as crisp, but a quick trip to the toaster fixes that.
To refresh a full loaf, remove it from the freezer and let it defrost on the counter. Once it has come to room temp., place it in a cold oven and preheat to 500 degrees then set a timer for 8 minutes. Regardless of whether the oven has come to temperature or not, check the bead to see if the crust has crisped up and the interior has softened. If it has, remove it or you can give it another few minutes. This method will revive your bread to like it was just baked!
When I slice my boules, I find it easiest to cut them into fourths first. That way you won’t be trying to keep the cut straight on such a big slice. Cut the whole thing in half with a sturdy, serrated knife, and then each half, in half one more time for four equal parts. Now you can slice it easily and the pieces fit into the toaster. The Hokkaido sandwich bread is easy to slice because it has a tight crumb. Don’t despair if it feels hard after being refrigerated. This is because it contains butter and will come right back to life if you toast it on the lowest setting.
When I get down to the last little butt ends, I save them for bread crumbs. You can freeze them until you are ready to prepare them. To make the bread crumbs, simply cut or tear the bread into 1 inch-ish pieces and give them a whirl in the blender or food processor until they are nice and fine. Now spread them thinly onto a cookie sheet and put them in a safe place for a day or two until they have completely dried out. A cold oven seems like an obvious place to put them, but if you forget and turn the oven on, they can catch fire and cause serious undue stress. Don’t do that, lol. When they are dry, put them in a mason jar or ziplock. They will keep indefinitely!
Left-over sourdough also makes fantastic croutons. Cube the bread and put a few tablespoons of olive oil and a cube or two of butter in a skillet. Add the bread to your skillet and turn the heat on low. Use a spatula to turn the cubes occasionally. The bread will dry out and toast very slowly. When each cube is crispy, sprinkle over a little salt. When the croutons are cool, you can bag them up for salads but your family will probably want to eat them like chips so hide them if you have menu plans!