What to do with those bits and bobs of bread. Do not throw them out, use them for crumbs and toasts.
I love grainy, textured bread but sadly the rest of my family got hooked on baguettes while we lived in France and they still crave them today. I often find the bread drawer filling up with bits and bobs of baguette and any other bread that might have been made or purchased during the week. What to do?
I have a couple of solutions for stale bread ranging from bread crumbs, that can be frozen and used at a later date, toasts, that can be used for a range of recipes including bruschetta, crostini or croutons that can be accompaniments to a number of different salads or soups. The key for the first recipe is to dry out the bread and to have a food processor. As a student, I tried to make crumbs in a blender. Needless to say, chunks of bread flew and crumbs were not achieved.
The simplest method to achieve wonderful crumbs is to do as little as possible. Leave your pieces of bread on a cookie sheet in a warm place. An oven that is cooling down is an ideal place or the drawer, under your oven, if you happen to have one. They key is not to forget that the tray of bread has been left to dry. I once smoked out the house when I pre-heated the oven, forgetting that I had left the bread to dry and it on fire. Thankfully the fire extinguisher was close at hand!
Moving on…once really dry, break up the bread, if necessary, and place in a food processor. Whiz until all the chunks have disappeared and you have crumbs that almost resemble a beach of beautiful, slightly coarse sand. Bag the crumbs and keep them fresh in the freezer.
Crumbs can use almost any bread while crunchy toasts are best created out of baguette or ciabatta, cut into small, bite-size pieces. The process is simple and the results are impressive.
Fill a small ramekin with olive oil. The olive oil can be flavoured with dried herbs or infused with garlic. Lay slices of bread out on a baking tray and paint each one with the oil. Place under the grill (broiler) in the oven and cook for a few minutes. This is not the time to make a phone call or leave the room. These cute little bread pieces burn fast.
Finally, if your freezer is overflowing with breadcrumbs and you are not in the mood for Bruschetta why not try baking some croutons in the oven for soup or salads. The process is so easy and the results will have you wondering why you never thought of making parmesan crusted croutons earlier.
The key to making these croutons is to keep it simple. Cut up the slices of bread into cubes, you decide the size depending on what you want to do with them. Place the cubes into a bowl and pour in a little bit of olive oil. Mix and see if enough oil was used. If not, pour a little more and check again. Once you have added oil, grate some parmesan cheese and add to the croutons. Stir them up so that there is cheese on all the cubes. Scatter onto a baking sheet, armed with a mat or parchment paper. Place in the oven and bake at 180C (375F) until crisp and golden. Allow to cool before sealing in a container for use on your salads or soups.
So here you are three different ways to use up that bread that so often finds itself in the bin rather than our bellies.