by Lauren Bravo
Step away from the bin! Give leftover bread the send-off it deserves, by turning it into dessert.
Pure comfort in a bowl, the school dinner favourite has justly earned its place in the dessert hall of fame for being resourceful, filling and cheap.
However, with really great ingredients it can also be quite special – chocolate chunks, marmalade, spices and booze can all perk up the pudding nicely. Try using leftover panettone (if such a thing exists in your house) for a festive twist, or even stale sourdough for a distinctively chewy result.
Not to be confused with its buttery cousin, bread pudding is a modest name for an even more luscious dessert. We know it best as those squidgy, sugar-topped slabs that have been found on bakery shelves for generations, heavy with fruit and impossible not to wolf down at the bus stop.
But almost every cuisine has its own version of the dish – Latin pudin pan is served with a hot caramel sauce, while Caribbean bread pudding is often made with coconut milk and doused in rum. So good, you’ll be willing the bread to go stale.
The earliest known reference to French toast dates back to the 4th or 5th century, but it’s had a revival in recent years thanks to our unending obsession with brunch.
Whether it’s going by its Gallic moniker or the much less glam ‘eggy bread’, this is a perfect quick fix for a stale loaf. Everyone has their favourite topping (I always had it with ketchup the morning after childhood sleepovers), but you can branch out with different breads too.
Try it with fruit bread, dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg and topped with fruit compote for a proper pudding. Walnut levain works fabulously with bananas and a drizzle of honey, and a two day-old Pugliese loaf is just begging to be turned into an ice cream sandwich.
Or you could go the whole hog and rustle up a Monte Cristo. Hog is the operative word though – it’s a sandwich filled with ham and cheese, dipped in batter and fried.
They may have had to make do with powdered egg and hatboxes for birthday cakes, but that didn’t stop the home cooks of the 1940s baking up some of our best-loved puddings.
With a filling made from just stale breadcrumbs, golden syrup and lemon juice, treacle tart is a whole lot better than the sum of its parts – perfectly, stickily nostalgic. Sorry birds, you’ll have to go hungry.