There’s nothing particularly sexy about a leftover bit of stale bread, but if you think about it, some of the very best recipes in the world have been based around using it up.
It can be sliced, diced, whizzed, dried, baked or flavoured, to give you beautiful rustic croutons or sprinkles to use on salads, pastas, soups, risottos and stews. Or, it can be used inside puddings, meatloaves and burgers to make them light and stretch the expensive ingredients further.
Transform your leftover bread into delicious croutons or sprinkles to give amazing texture and contrast to whatever they’re added to, from pasta to delicious baked artichokes. It surprises your mouth and your brain, and therefore makes you taste your food even more. Try to have a mixture of your own dried bread in various forms at home…
Food-process some bread really finely and some nice and coarsely. If the bread’s fresh, put the crumbs into a bag and freeze them, and if the bread’s stale, simply lay them out on a tray and let them fully dry, then pack them in an airtight jar.
If you’ve ever wondered how some Italian bread has such a beautiful crunchy base, this could be one of the oldest secrets in the bread-baking book. Instead of using flour, use fine stale breadcrumbs to dust the bottom of the tray before adding your dough. It stops it sticking and gives you double the crunch.
Finely slice some bread, lay it out on a tray and either leave it to go completely stale, or, if you want to develop a little bit more flavour, pop it into the oven to achieve a little colour and let it dry out. Either way, store your toasts in an airtight jar or container until you need them. They’ll be really nice with cheese, pâté, pickles, houmous, guacamole, or even reheated and snapped into salads to act like croutons.
Make croutons three different ways. Dice bread into two sizes – 1cm for small and 3cm for large – or make rustic croutons by simply tearing the bread into thumb-sized pieces. These are great for sprinkling over delicious salads and soups. If you want to infiltrate your croutons with some serious flavour, simply toss them with some smashed-up woody herbs, garlic, spice or chilli before you toast them.
Top tip: If you’ve got an oven that’s finished being used but is still cooling down, just whack a tray of bread in there to dry out overnight – croutons, breadcrumbs, toast, whatever you fancy. It’s a great way to take advantage of that free heat, as you’ve already paid for it!
Adapted from Save with Jamie, by Jamie Oliver. Published by Michael Joseph (Penguin Random House)
If you’re looking for the bread beer from this week’s episode of Friday Night Feast, it’s stocked by: toastale.com, E5 Bakehouse, Craft Rebellion, Clapton Craft, The Cock Tavern, Hackney Brewery and Mother Kelly’s.