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I wwould like my bread to be fresh the next day when I bake it at night but I know you shouldn't cover your freshly baked bread as it will soften it. Can I leave it on the counter uncovered overnight? Will it still be fresh?

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Depends how you define "fresh". I don't have access to my books right now, but IIRC, the first type of starch retrogradation occurs after one hour, the second starts after a day. So there is probably no way at all to have the "just-baked" softness after more than an hour. Generations of bakers working night shifts to sell fresh loaves at 6:00 AM are another argument for that, if there was a way, they'd have found it by now. As for best keeping, try leaving it in a woven cotton bag on the counter, a non-breathing cover will fog and dampen it. –  rumtscho May 6 '11 at 20:05
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@rumtscho- I'm not putting an answer because it would have been what you just said. This should be an answer not a comment. –  Sobachatina May 6 '11 at 20:44
    
I am sensing a "Michael Scott Morning Bacon" situation here. –  Katey HW Sep 16 '11 at 18:21
    
So-called "artisan" breads and sourdough can be left out for days without significant loss of moisture, even after cutting, but I presume you are talking about a standard white bread. –  Rob Oct 1 '12 at 11:28
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3 Answers

Roll it in a damp cloth, it might help you to keep it fresh.

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Might? Have you tried this? –  TFD Oct 3 '12 at 9:51
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It strikes me as this would be likely to turn it soggy and/or grow mold, but I haven't tried it. –  derobert Oct 4 '12 at 22:09
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When I lived in South America we would put our bread on a paper bag and that would maintain it fresh. :)

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It may be a matter of how you are defining 'Fresh', but my experience has been that 'fresh' isn't that hard to maintain, as long as I'm making a loaf with a significant crust; just don't cut it. I tend to leave the bread on the rack in my oven overnight to cool down, with no loss of freshness, as long as it hasn't been cut into. Once it's cut into, things change, but the crust itself isn't terribly vulnerable to getting stale quickly, and protects the rest of the bread.

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