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I realise that a freshly baked loaf will need some time to rest to allow the starch to "set", otherwise the bread may not be the right consistency.

(Why should I let bread cool before slicing and eating?)

What is the shortest resting period I can get away with to allow me to serve warm bread to my guests? Are there any shortcuts I can take (e.g. cut the loaf in half to allow the steam to escape)? And how do restaurants successfully serve warm bread to their customers?

  • Personally, taking my local bakery as an example. When they're really busy they wheel the still-hot racks out into the store before they cool sufficiently to bag them. I take mine right from the rack & bag it myself. Cannot beat it! Crust is at its best at that point, delicately crisp & sharp enough to cut your tongue, inside is still warm & doughy, will still slightly melt butter by the time I get it home 5 mins later. [checks watch… hmm.. I might have to go get some right now ;))) – Tetsujin Sep 14 at 11:52
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    When my grandmother made bread we usually started eating it in about 5 minutes. ( Time to wash hands , get butter, etc. – blacksmith37 Sep 14 at 16:31
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Giving a minimum time is not possible, because it depends on the size of the loaf, whether it is in a pan or not, and the ambient temperature of the location where it is cooling. In general, the recommendation is to cool the loaf to room temperature. If you are baking rolls, this might mean 30 minutes. For a larger loaf, it could be hours. At the risk of providing information captured in other questions...There is a process called starch retrogradation that takes place as the bread cools. This means that water absorbed by starches during the baking process is expelled at the molecular level, and evaporates. Cutting too soon means you risk a gummy textured bread. Next, cutting your bread too soon releases trapped steam, this could mean that your bread is drier, later. Finally, depending on the ingredients, flavor continues to develop as your bread cools. All of this is carefully explained here. I would also suggest that you don't want to shortcut this process. It takes a bit of effort to produce a good loaf at home. My guess is you've already planned ahead quite a bit. What you want is a loaf that has cooled to room temperature. Then you can heat it for your guests, as restaurants do.

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First, I would say, don't cut the bread while hot; steam will escape too fast and dry out the bread.

Restaurants warm the bread just before serving it to customers.

Restaurants usually get (or make) their bread in the morning; so it is not warm when the restaurant opens.

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