Before you toss a loaf of hard, crusty bread in the trash, try bringing it back to life. As bread bakes in the oven, water weakens starch bonds, softening the bread. As soon as the bread begins to cool, the starch bonds reform and, over time, the bread hardens -- and then hardens some more. Moistening the crust and popping the bread back in the oven refreshes the texture.
Preheat the oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sprinkle the bread with water or rub an ice cube over the crust to moisten the crust.
Set the loaf of bread directly on the oven rack.
Bake the bread for from 12 to 15 minutes; check the bread periodically once the time approaches 12 minutes to make sure it doesn't start to burn or get hard again. Once you've softened the bread, use it immediately.
- Baking temperatures and times vary depending on the individual oven. While one oven may soften the bread in 12 minutes, another may require 15 minutes and a temperature of 400 F. Some experimentation may be necessary.
- Do not refresh overly hard bread in the microwave. Microwaving gives bread a leathery texture.
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