Before you even begin to soften stale hard bread, check it for mould. Green or blue spots on the surface of the bread are signs of mould formation. Do not even think of softening mould affected bread and immediately discard it. Move on to the next step if the bread is mould-free.
Fill a pressure cooker or a pan with water and place it on a lit stove. Wait until the water comes to a boil. Hold the piece of hard stale bread which you want to soften directly over the steam rising from the boiling water for a couple of minutes.
Alternatively, wrap a moistened paper towel around the hard stale piece of bread and place it in a microwave. Turn on the microwave and wait for about 20 seconds. Take out the bread from the microwave and check if it is softened or not.
Another possible way of softening hard stale bread is to liberally brush milk over it and then place the bread in an oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Wait for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the bread. Heat will make the bread crispier whereas the milk will soften it up.
You might face difficulty in slicing over-softened bread. In such a case, heat the blade of a knife by holding it above a flame and then slice the bread with the heated knife.