By Lucy Yanckello, Ph.D.
Not much is better than the smell of bread baking in the oven, or the first bite into a warm slice. If a poll was taken between fresh baked bread or store bought bread, it is likely that fresh baked bread would win in a landslide! Luckily, due to the advent of freezers and other technologies, it is not necessary to go through the labor of making bread from scratch in order to enjoy delicious fresh bread. Par baked breads and frozen breads are great options that give the same satisfaction as homemade bread.
What is par baked bread? What is the advantage of using par-baked bread?
Par baked bread is also known as partially baked dough. As the name implies, par baked bread uses a shorter initial baking time than cooking bread all the way through. The bread is removed from the oven before the inside is fully baked and the crust has a chance to brown. The par baked bread can then be frozen and stored under freezing conditions, or can be immediately packaged in modified atmosphere packaging, making it shelf stable at room temperature. This is the same technique used for things like meats and vegetables at the grocery store. Once ready to consume, the par baked bread just needs to be put back in the oven to complete the baking process and achieve the crust that we all know and love. The advantage of par baked bread is that the time it takes to then finish the bake is much quicker than the time it takes for bread to bake from dough. Par baked breads are typically “finished off” by baking for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, though the exact time varies by product and home oven. For example, the par baked Wildgrain Slow-Fermented Ciabatta takes 20 to 22 minutes to bake while the Wildgrain Plain Sourdough Loaf takes 18 to 24 minutes. Par baked breads are sold in grocery stores and even online, then finished at home to have fresh made bread without the mess of making bread from scratch.
What is frozen bread? Why should I use frozen bread?
Bread is often frozen to preserve freshness or extend shelf life. Fresh bread loaves from a bakery or from home can particularly benefit from being frozen because they have little to no preservatives added, so they otherwise would have a very short shelf life. Frozen bread should not be defrosted before baking, as this can make it go stale. Instead, frozen bread should be placed directly in the oven from the freezer.
What is the difference between frozen bread vs. fresh bread vs. par baked bread vs. store bought bread?
Fresh bread is the gold standard when comparing breads. However, par baked and frozen breads are not far off. Once finished off with the rebaking step, par baked breads are very similar to freshly baked bread. Additionally, bread that has been frozen after it is fully baked in order to preserve freshness can also resemble fresh baked bread after rewarming. Once frozen bread is reheated at a low temperature to fully defrost, frozen bread regains much of the characteristics of fresh baked bread. Store bought bread is of course the easiest as it comes ready to eat - no need to knead, proof, bake, or re-bake. However, store bought bread has additional preservatives to increase shelf life and excessive amounts of yeast, which produces the soft, light texture characteristic of store bought bread. Although store bought bread is more convenient, it is not as satisfying as fresh bread, frozen par baked bread, or even frozen fully baked bread.
What is the best bread: frozen bread vs. store bought bread vs. par baked bread vs. fresh bread?
Depending on your needs and the amount of time you have, each type of bread has its pros and cons. Store bought bread is convenient as it is ready to consume. However, frozen par baked bread and frozen fully baked bread are close in terms of convenience, only taking an extra 15 to 25 minutes to get bread that is as similar to freshly baked bread as you can get without the work. Fresh bread is time consuming and labor intensive, but also rewarding and delicious.
How long does par baked bread last in the freezer?
Par baked bread is fresh bread that is partially baked then immediately frozen to finish baking later. The advantage of par baked bread is that it can last in the freezer for a long time and can be warmed when needed. Par baked bread can last up to 12 months in the freezer.
Can you freeze par baked baguettes?
Yes, you can freeze par baked baguettes, just like any other type of par baked bread. Par baked baguettes can stay in the freezer for up to 12 months. To prepare par baked baguettes, put the baguette directly into the oven at a low temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes without thawing first. Then enjoy!
What is the best par baked bread? What is the best frozen bread?
Interested in having fresh bread at home without the work of making bread from scratch? Wildgrain is the first bake-from-frozen delivery subscription service for par baked breads, pastries, and fresh pastas. Some of our more popular breads include Whole Wheat Sourdough Loaf and Sourdough 7-Grain Loaf. Learn more about Wildgrain and our artisanal baking methods.
About the Author
Lucy Yanckello received her Ph.D. in nutrition from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. She currently works as a medical writer and enjoys being able to help people better understand nutrition and science.
This content is for informational use only and does not replace professional nutrition and/or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for and should not be relied upon for specific nutrition and/or medical recommendations. Please talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns.