*This article has been updated for accuracy in September 2020.
Are your entertaining goals high but your time too short to achieve them? I’ve got a great shortcut for you – par-baked bread. It is as delicious as freshly baked bread from the bakery and it lives in your freezer until you need it. Fresh frozen pastries and hors d’oeuvres are also great to have on hand in the freezer and save the cook a great deal of time.
Par-baking bread is the process of partially baking bread then flash freezing it. Many supermarkets are now buying par-baked bread from bakeries, baking it in their ovens and selling it fresh every day. I buy par-baked loaves from the supermarket’s freezer section to finish at home when I’m entertaining. Par-baked bread is also handy to keep in your freezer if you have a vacation or weekend home and don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking.
Imagine the ease of par-baked bread. Pull a baguette or loaf of bread from the freezer, let it thaw awhile, pop it in the oven for 15 minutes or so and serve hot, crusty freshly baked bread to your dinner guests. You’ll love all the compliments you’ll receive. “Did you bake this yourself” might be a little tricky, but I won’t tell if you say “Yes”.
Subscriber Lindsay E. introduced me to the When Pigs Fly Bakery website which sells fourteen varieties of their breads par-baked. Prices range from $4.00 to $6.00 a loaf. When you order, choose either ‘sliced’ which is fresh baked bread ready to eat, or ‘par-baked’ which will arrive frozen.
If you’re feeding a crowd, order in bulk from foodservicedirect.com. When Pigs Fly are no longer using this service, but there are several other brands available. Choose from among thirteen different types of bread, from breadsticks to a mini par-baked paesano loaf.
Amazon sells gluten free par-baked breads made by Schar to be ordered online, or you can just pop into your local Walmart.
The baguettes are sold in a 2 pack of 6 for $44.06.
Whole Foods sells par-baked bread in their freezer section. They sell baguettes, Ciabatta and several other varieties. They are delicious and easy. Prices are $2.65 to $4.80 a loaf.
Hannafords sells par-baked dinner rolls, baguettes, crusty Italian bread and crusty French Boule among others. These are all found in their freezer section.
I have also asked my local supermarket to sell me some of their par-baked bread if I don’t see any in the freezer section. They usually will for the same price as a fresh baked loaf.
Most fresh frozen pastries have not been baked at all. More often you are taking an unbaked pastry and baking as if from scratch. You do know that Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry is as good as any professional baker can make, don’t you?
Williams-Sonoma breakfast and savory pastries are delicious and they last in the freezer for a long time. The plain and chocolate croissants are to die for. They go straight from freezer to oven and bake for 20 minutes.
A set of 40 mini mixed plain and chocolate is $72.00.