When you splurged and bought yourself that huge, gorgeous loaf of artisan bread at the farmer's market, you promised yourself that you'd make sure to cut it up and freeze what you couldn't eat that same day, so that you'd be able to protect the integrity of said bread all week long. Of course, you forgot to do this, yet again, and now have a giant loaf that's as hard as a rock and fills you with instant regret.
But all is not lost! Contrary to popular belief, bread that has has aged past its prime can, in fact, be brought back to life. As long as it's not covered in mold and still resembles bread, it still has a chance. All you need is water, an oven, and faith. Here's everything you need to know about softening bread.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Turn on the faucet and run your bread underneath it. Yes, you read that right. It may go against every bread-related instinct that you have but you need to believe in the process. The water, when heated, will turn to steam, which will rehydrate the loaf from the inside. Make sure you get every inch of the crust rather wet.
Try not to get the cut side of the bread directly under the running water, but don't fret if you do — all that will mean is a few extra minutes in the oven.
Pop the bread directly onto a rack in the center of the oven and bake for five minutes, then poke with your fingers to see how it's coming. It can take as little as five and as many as 15 minutes for the bread to be revived, depending on how much water it absorbed, and how far gone it was in the first place.
When your bread's crust is back to being crisp and crackly and the cut side of the bread yields a bit when you poke it, your bread is ready. Move it to a cutting board and cover with a kitchen towel for a few minutes so it can continue to steam on the inside, and then go back to eating your bread as if you had just bought it.