How to turn fresh bread into day-old bread
I'm making gazpacho and I need to have it done within the next couple of hours. All I have is a fresh baguette, as the store was out of the required day-old bread (and I clearly didn't prepare in advance). Any tips for making it seem a day old? What if I tear it into chunks and then put it in the oven for ten minutes or something?
Tear it into chunks and put it in a 275F oven for 15 minutes. It will be about 1/3 of the way to being dried.
Cooks Illustrated/ATK discussed this. They cubed bread and put it in a low oven, maybe 225-250, for probably a half hour or longer. Wish I remembered the specifics. For sure, it didn't brown.
This is NOT the same as day-old, however. Bread staling naturally goes through a process called retrogradation, in which the starches crystallize, entrapping the moisture and making the bread only SEEM dry. That's why putting stale bread in an oven refreshes it - the heat counters the crystallization and releases the moisture. Oven-drying bread DOES remove the moisture permanently.
Great, thanks so much for the (very scientific!) responses. I took your advice and it seemed to work, as gazpacho is now chilling in the fridge.
If the bread is blended with the other ingredients, I doubt if being stale or dry makes that much of a difference.
Sometimes when make gazpacho, or remesco, I'll use a plain cracker (pilot bread) instead of bread. Any cooked starch like that will provide the necessary thickening.