After investing in my Panasonic breadmaker last year I now no longer buy shop bought loaves of bread – once you’ve had homemade bread there’s no going back, trust me. The trouble is that because homemade bread doesn’t contain any of the nasty artificial chemicals and preservatives that help to give it a longer shelf life, unless you eat the entire loaf on the same day you’ve made it (which isn’t entirely unfeasible I grant you) it’s definitely past it’s best come the following day.
As someone who cannot stand food waste (I am forever having a go at my kids about this) I don’t like throwing the leftover stale bread away, and so I make sure that it is put to good use. The obvious answer of what to do with stale bread is to toast it, but there are lots of other things you can do with stale bread that I’m going to share with you today.
OK so the philistines among you will claim that bruschetta is nothing more than fancy toast, and call it that if you will, but you’d be missing out on a proper tasty lunch if you didn’t at least give it a go.
This Italian starter is so easy to make and you can completely adapt it to suit your favourite flavours or if you need to use up any other leftovers. The traditional method is to toast the bread and then brush with garlic infused oil and add a mixture of chopped tomatoes, fresh basil and salt, but my take on it is more of a mixture between bruschetta and cheese on toast.
Simply toast some sliced bread under the grill on one side. Turn over and brush with some olive oil (you can also rub with a clove of garlic at this point if that’s your vibe) then top with your favourite toppings and toast until melty and golden.
Great flavour combinations include:
- Goats cheese, sun drenched tomatoes (I am addicted to the Waitrose ones), and caramelised onion chutney.
- Pesto, mozzarella, avocado, sliced tomato and a good grinding of salt and pepper (I’m obsessed with my new Cole & Mason salt and pepper mills).
- Pizza sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil.
- Chargrilled chicken, rocket, sun dried tomato paste and parmesan shavings.
Breadcrumbs are the easiest thing in the world to make – simply bung the leftover stale bread into a food processor and blitz – but what do you do with them then?
If you don’t have a use for them straight away, the good news is that they freeze really well. Store them in reusable freezer bags and they’ll keep for months, just make sure they don’t gradually work their way down to the bottom of the freezer drawer so that you end up forgetting about them.
Check out these ideas of what you can do with breadcrumbs:
- Pasta Bake Topping – sprinkle some breadcrumbs along with grated cheese on top of your lasagne, macaroni cheese, or tuna pasta bake.
- Stuffing – make your own stuffing for the Sunday roast by combining chopped cooked onions, herbs, egg, seasoning and breadcrumbs.
- Treacle Tart – you might not realise this, but breadcrumbs actually form a large part of the inside of a treacle tart. They absorb all of the sweet buttery golden syrup, to produce a dessert that is super scrummy.
- Breaded Chicken – Add smoked paprika and chilli powder to the bag of breadcrumbs, and give it a good shake. Coat chicken strips firstly in flour, then egg, and then the breadcrumbs. Deep fry until golden to make the tastiest southern fried chicken.
I’ve obviously already mentioned that you can use breadcrumbs in treacle tart, but there are a couple of other bread based desserts you can use that stale bread in too.
For colder winter days, bread and butter pudding is an absolute classic, and it is a leftover bread recipe that is so versatile. A basic bread and butter pudding recipe uses a sweet custard made from milk, egg and sugar poured over sliced bread. However, you could make it extra creamy by using cream or evaporated milk instead, or you could add cocoa powder to the custard to give it a chocolatey taste. And then of course you can change the type of bread you use, so for example you could use stale brioche or hot cross buns. You can also add chocolate chips, or some little dollops of jam, in fact you can be as creative you like.
And as we go into summer and we’re looking for a much lighter dessert, Summer pudding is a brilliant way to use up any stale bread you’ve got hanging about. If you haven’t heard of Summer pudding before it is basically a dome made from fruit juice soaked bread (usually summer berries like blackberries, strawberries, redcurrants, raspberries etc.) and filled with cooked and sweetened berries. It goes amazing with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream and the best part is you need the bread to be stale in order for it to work.
I couldn’t talk about stale bread recipes without mentioning croutons. Croutons in themselves are crazy easy to make – just cut or even rip your bread into chunks, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and then cook in a hot oven for about 10 – 15 minutes until golden and crispy. Like breadcrumbs they freeze really well, just make sure they have completely cooled and dried out before bagging them up.
I like to use croutons in my Caesar Salad recipe, to give it a crunch. Oh and if you haven’t topped a bowl of homemade soup with a massive grilled cheese crouton, my goodness you haven’t lived – this works particularly well with French Onion or Tomato soup.
I’ve always had a soft spot for what I know as Sunshine Bread, as this was something we only ever had on holiday when I was growing up. I was fortunate enough to go on a foreign holiday every summer with my family and we would always stay in self catering accommodation, which meant sorting out our own breakfast and lunches and then going out to a restaurant for dinner in the evening. It was my dad who came up with the name Sunshine Bread, I guess because it looks so lovely and golden, and that was what we would have for a holiday breakfast. Never at home, always on holiday.
Sunshine Bread, Eggy bread, French toast, whatever you want to call it, is the breakfast of champions and is such a delicious way to use up stale bread and like most of the other ideas here it’s also really easy.
So, how do you make French toast? Heat some oil in a frying pan, place a slice of bread into a beaten egg until it is well coated and then fry until golden. Sprinkle with sugar while the bread is still hot so that the sugar melts slightly and that’s it! You could also replace the sugar with a drizzle of golden or maple syrup, or if you’re being slightly healthier honey is just as nice.
Considering there are so many of different ways to use up leftover stale bread, it would be an absolute crime to just chuck it in the bin, so why not give some of these a go.
Look out for some more ideas of what to do with leftover food in the next post in my food waste series.
Have you got any ideas of what to do with stale bread?
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Becky Stafferton is a full time blogger over on her website The Art of Healthy Living, mum of 2 and certified Queen of the hashtags. She continually strives to promote a realistic, sustainable and positive image of how to lead a healthy life. When she’s not writing or reading her teenage diary she can be found swigging Prosecco from the bottle, running through muddy puddles, making lists of lists, having a good old moan, scoffing flapjacks and squatting like her life depends on it.