Leftover bread

November 7, 2007

Whether you bake your own or just tote loaves home from the grocery store, most of us always, always have bread in the house. Even if you freeze it to preserve its freshness, sometimes you just find yourself staring at a stale loaf. Kelly Myers has some thoughtful suggestions for using stale bread; here are eight other ways to repurpose the staff of life.

  1. Breadcrumbs. The simplest and most satisfying use for old bread, bar none. Chop that baguette into smallish chunks, drop them into a food processor (or blender), and whir. Presto! Instant breadcrumbs. Store in the freezer for future use.
  2. Croutons. Much better than the store-bought kind, and way speedy to make. What to do with your croutons? Fortunately, our crouton recipe comes with a salad attached.
  3. Fresh bread is a beautiful thing, but what can you do with the stale version?
    French toast. Perfect for bread that you can slice into thick rounds. Recipes vary, but basically this is a flexible dish: Whisk together a couple of eggs, a cup or so milk, vanilla, and nutmeg, and pour over bread slices arranged in a baking dish or bowl. Soak for a few minutes (or longer, depending on how stale and dense the bread is), then fry in butter or oil on a griddle or frypan. Serve with maple syrup, peanut butter, fresh fruit, or whatever floats your French-toast boat.
  4. Bruschetta. The ever-popular Italian appetizer turns old bread into crispy, oily platforms for tomato salad, tapenade, hummus, and other Mediterranean spreads.
  5. Panzanella (Tuscan bread salad). Like French toast, this is an easy-to-assemble and very forgiving dish. Slice your leftover bread into 1-inch square cubes and dress with vinaigrette, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs — it’s basically your favorite salad ingredients mixed with bread.
  6. Gazpacho. This Spanish summertime classic is made smooth and thick with the addition of bread. Try also cucumber gazpacho.
  7. Easy Romesco, a Mediterranean sauce excellent over practically any savory meat or carbohydrate, including more bread.
  8. Bread pudding. French toast, more or less, baked in a dish and served for dessert. A kid favorite and, served with a boozy cream sauce, a grownup choice as well.

Related article: Homemade breadcrumbs

There are 10 comments on this item
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1. by Ashley Griffin Gartland on Nov 7, 2007 at 3:07 PM PST

This helpful article came at the perfect time: I was just staring down a stale baguette in my kitchen! Do you have any favorite recipes for bread pudding?

2. by Kim on Nov 8, 2007 at 10:43 AM PST

Hi AshleyG: If you click on the link for bread pudding it should take you to Kelly Myers’ recipe for a lemony version that’s really delicious. I made it recently but didn’t have time to let it rest for 2 hours (more like 20 minutes). Then I baked it about 30 minutes. It was a hit -- the rum-soaked raisins add perk.

3. by Ashley Griffin Gartland on Nov 8, 2007 at 11:44 AM PST

Yes es clicking on the link would have been wise - thanks for the tip and the hints for making the recipe. I can’t wait to try it myself.

4. by Olga on Nov 9, 2007 at 9:03 AM PST

Great website! What if you don’t want your bread to go stale? What do you do?

5. by Teacher A on Nov 9, 2007 at 4:49 PM PST

Ah, if only bread in San Diego would go stale. Darn humidity makes it go moldy in a week (or less).

6. by Kim on Nov 9, 2007 at 5:57 PM PST

Olga: We have a beautiful German-made bread box that I splurged on last year, and that keeps it fresh for awhile, but by the third or fourth day, it’s curtains for most of the loaves. Still, it helps. Consider buying a bread box if you can!

TeacherA: You might have to set it out on the counter with no wrapping to get it stale enough for some of these recipes. They’re worth it!

7. by Caroline Cummins on Nov 12, 2007 at 4:07 PM PST

You can also slice a fresh loaf of bread and freeze it; you’ll have to toast the frosty slices to make them appealing again, but it’s a reliable way to keep a loaf around for more than a few days.

8. by ink on Nov 27, 2007 at 10:45 AM PST

An old trick that still works wonders, especially with old rolls: wrap them in a towel and steam them for a few minutes. It won’t revive totally dessicated bread, but will quickly warm and moisten a day-or-three old roll or slice.

9. by Vendela on Feb 6, 2008 at 7:09 PM PST

And I just recently discovered a soup recipe for stale bread called Panne di Pomodori -- basic tomato basil soup with stale bread tossed into soak up the flavors.

10. by Caroline Cummins on Feb 6, 2008 at 8:47 PM PST

Good stuff. That classic Tuscan soup is better known as pappa al pomodoro -- check out Orangette’s recipe for it.

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