How to Soften Overly Hard Bread

Don't let  hardened bread go to waste.
Don't let hardened bread go to waste. (Image: Images)

When that loaf you picked up from the bakery the other day has because hard as a brick, it doesn't necessarily mean it's time to toss it. Crusty artisan breads, such as French and Italian baguettes and sourdough loaves, are notorious for drying out and getting very hard relatively quickly. This happens even when it's tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or foil. In most cases, however, even the hardest bread can be revived and softened with the help of heat in the oven or microwave.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Aluminum foil

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In the Microwave

Dampen a a few sheets of paper towels. They should be sufficiently damp but not dripping wet.

Wrap the hard bread in a damp towel and place it in the microwave.

Microwave the wrapped bread in 10- to 15-second intervals until the bread has softened. Check the bread for softness in between each heating session. Remove the bread as soon as it feels sufficiently soft, as overcooking in the microwave could cause the bread to harden further.

In the Oven

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lightly wet the surface of the bread all over with your hands, then wrap it loosely in aluminum foil.

Place the wrapped bread in the oven to heat for about 10 minutes, until the bread is soft and hot. Eat it while it's still hot.

Tips & Warnings

  • Serve bread softened by heat right away. It will harden again as it cools.
  • Spread softened butter and garlic on hardened bread to make garlic toasts in the oven. The butter will melt into the bread and help soften it.
  • If the bread does not get soft enough to your liking, break it into chunks and pulse it into bread crumbs in food processor, which you can toast and use for other purposes.
  • Discard bread if it has any signs of mold.


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