As I have written before, sliced bread freezes extremely well.
Defrosting bread is a simple enough process, depending on what you ultimately want to do with it. But are you sure you need to defrost your bread at all? Here are four different scenarios – pick the one closest to what you want to make!
Some toasters have a defrost button on them, which has the effect of dimming the toasting elements – presumably to thaw the bread and cook it more slowly than for fresh bread.
I have experimented with this button and can report that, in my opinion, it’s just hype – the lower power just increases the time between frozen bread and your toast. The lower power also evaporates the moisture in the bread away without cooking it – resulting in a dry, cardboard-like slice of toast.
You should toast the frozen bread on full power to defrost and caramelize the outside of the bread as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately you cannot have sandwiches now, unless you like frozen bread. But you can have sandwiches in 20 minutes! That’s how long it takes to defrost bread at normal room temperature (about 72F / 22C). But here’s the trick: you need to maximize the surface area of the frozen bread which is exposed to the ambient (room) temperature.
The rigid frozen slices hold themselves up and start to thaw. When the slices collapse, they’re ready. Simple as that. Just enough time to fry an egg and a rasher or two of bacon to go inside.
If you have a little longer before you need the bread (say an hour), place the slices face down on a wooden board and put a damp towel over them.
Sandwiches later (to take to work/school etc.)
Don’t defrost the bread at all! You can make a sandwich directly on frozen bread, as long as you’re using ingredients which are cold (e.g. butter, lettuce, sliced ham, cheese). In fact, it’s easier to spread butter/mayonnaise/mustard/whatever on frozen bread than fresh bread.
Be sure to wrap the sandwich as soon as possible after you’ve made it. Wrapping the frozen sandwich inside a paper towel and then inside a zip type sandwich bag works very well – the paper towel then doubles as a napkin when it comes time to eat it.
This works surprisingly well and the sandwich will keep at a moderate temperature for a good few hours – at least until lunchtime! Obviously, you can’t leave a prepared sandwich in the blazing sun or in a parked car.
“But I froze the whole loaf!”
For homemade bread, I really recommend slicing the bread first before freezing. That way you can take out as much as you want, when you want it – and it’s far easier to defrost. But that doesn’t help you here.
Do not microwave the bread – this will dry it out and within a few minutes, it will be hard as a rock.
If you do have a whole frozen loaf on your hands, you need to defrost the bread slowly at room temperature – a 1.5lb loaf may take up to six hours to defrost. You can squish it a little with your hands to see if it’s ready. Leave the bread wrapped while it defrosts – this will minimize the loss of moisture and staling.