Always Do This Before Eating Freshly Baked Bread

Is there anything better than freshly baked bread? Whether made at home or purchased in a bakery, there's something absolutely irresistible about the beguiling aroma, fluffy texture, and wheat taste of a loaf that's just come out of the oven.

There are so many ways to enjoy recently made bread. Perhaps the best, and the most simple, is a slice spread thickly with butter or mounded high with sliced cheese. You can take things up a level with a cold sandwich or a melty grilled cheese. You can dunk slices of toast into tomato soup, cube up bread for croutons or breadcrumbs, or make a sweet French toast breakfast.

But whatever you do with that fresh bread, you'll want to make sure you abide by one important rule in order to enjoy it at the absolute height of its flavor and texture. Read on to find out what it is.

Let the bread rest

Have you ever heard of the concept of letting a cooked piece of meat "rest"? This essential step allows juices to reabsorb into the meat, so they don't run out and leave it bone-dry once you cut into it (via Martha Stewart). And as it turns out, it's essential to let hot, fresh-from-the-oven bread rest before cutting into it as well.

According to food writer Samuel Fromartz, it's a baking sin to cut into a hot loaf of bread. Post-baking, Fromartz explained to Food Network, bread "needs to rest and have time for the crumb to set." What does this mean, exactly? According to Food52, hot bread that's cooling goes through a process called starch retrogradation, with moisture from inside the loaf continuing to migrate outward and eventually evaporate, leaving a relatively dry interior crumb and a nice, crispy crust. If you cut into a hot loaf while this process is ongoing, you'll find an interior that hasn't finished releasing its moisture, and will be met with a gummy, sticky texture that's similar to raw dough.

So as tempting as it is to dig right into warm, aromatic bread, you'll need to hold off. Fromartz recommends a rest time of anywhere from 20 minutes for baguettes to up to an hour for large, round loaves (via Food Network). As long as the bread feels cool to the touch, you're good to go. In the meantime, just sit back and daydream about what you'll do with those fresh, fragrant slices.