Are there any good bakeries around here?
That is a frequent question we ask, living here in the South. That is one thing I do miss about NJ. Ah, if I could only blink my eyes and be at Gencarrelli’s for some good Italian bread and 7 layer cake. Sorry, I digress. Frequently, when going to your favorite grocer, you may come across a “special rack” with bread that has been marked down by 50%, simple because it is day old bread. This $1.59 loaf of Italian bread at the grocer costs them about 50 cents, raw dough and labor to make. If the grocer sells it for 90 cents, he is still covering his costs on it. Many people look at this as inferior, because it is not “fresh”. Whenever I see these hidden gems, I buy all that there is. I will freeze them and pull them out of the freezer as needed.
So how do get that fresh bread back again? Simply put the loaf in a low oven- 250 F until the crust has toughened up and become hard and crunchy. You will be surprised how soft and chewy the inside of the bread will be. It will be like getting fresh from the oven bread. The slight water crystals that have formed on the bread from the freezer, will actually help the crust to get nice and crispy. I have found that the artisan breads and Euro style breads will give a better crust than the run of the mill Italian and French bread.
Still not convinced? Okay then try this. Take these day old breads, slice in half lengthwise on the horizon. Take each half, open it up and spread with a prepared garlic bread spread or make your own- olive oil or butter liberally covering the bread, crushed or minced garlic (or in a pinch garlic powder), S & P, oregano sprinkled over the top and bake until golden brown. Put some shredded mozzarella cheese over this and put back in the oven until it is melted and slightly browned. UUUMMMM, YUMMY! If all else fails, make bread crumbs or seasoned croutons