Bread is a staple food in our home: we eat a lot of it, especially when it’s freshly baked. Bread making is a passion of mine. Nothing compares to the aroma of a loaf just out of the oven! But when fresh bread is on the table, what to do with the old one? Don’t throw your stale bread in the bin!
Inventive ways to use stale bread
As a child, I was constantly being reminded by my family that wasting food is such a bad thing, bread in particular. My grandma would tell me it’s a sin toss a piece of bread in the rubbish. That stuck into my mind. Over the years I’ve made some delicious meals out of old, stale bread and always look for new recipes. Here are my favourites:
1. French toast
French toast was the favourite way for my mum to use the old bread. My sister and I loved it, now our kids love it too. We didn’t call it French bread, just fried bread, and it always was the savoury version, as on the picture above.
White bread is the best choice for it: simply beat the 2 eggs, add 1 cup milk and a pinch of salt. Dip the old bread slices into the mixture and fry in little hot oil in a pan.
For the widely known sweet version of French bread, use dried out sultana loaf, brioche, or any other sweet yeasted bread. The method is the same as above, you can however substitute butter for oil. I don’t add any sugar to the egg and milk mixture as it burns more, but rather sprinkle some icing sugar before serving.
2. Homemade bread crumbs
It’s so easy to make homemade bread crumbs: cut the stale bread into thin slices, spread it onto the oven rack in a single layer, turn the oven on the low and dry unit the slice snaps. Cool and put into a food processor. Process until desired coarseness.
All types of bread are suitable for bread crumbs (except maybe sultana bread). There is no need to remove the crust.
3. Bread and butter pudding
This is a very popular dish and great to use up sweet loafs. Basically, the bread is cut into thick slices, buttered (I often skip this step, still tastes great) and arranged into a baking dish. Eggs are mixed with milk or cream if one prefers, and poured onto bread. It’s best to let the slices soak up the mixture before baking. I like to add some chocolate, grated orange rind or cinnamon too.
4. Summer berry pudding
This is one of my favourite deserts! It’s so easy to prepare, bursting with flavour and very refreshing: just the right kind of pudding for a hot Australian Christmas. Here is the recipe.
5. Pancanella – Tuscan bread salad
I make this salad fairly often during the summer; somehow I don’t have any photo. The main ingredients are old bread torn into pieces (or cut into cubes), ripe tomatoes, basil, cucumber, anchovies, seasoning, olive oil and vinegar mixed together. It’s a meal on itself. I love it!
6. Porridge from old bread (popara)
It is a meal made from old white bread cooked in just enough milk for five minutes to make a porridge consistency. I like to add garlic and sour cream on top. It’s usually savoury but can be made as a sweet meal too.
7. Toast it, freeze it
These are obvious, but let’s mention them:
Pop a day (or two) old bread into the toaster – it tastes great again. I especially like toasted sourdough.
Freeze the bread you won’t eat immediately. It’s great to discover a few slices in the freezer just when I think I have to go out and buy some.
The above recipes using old bread are the ones I make most often. Dry bread can be also used to make:
Homemade croutons are easy to make and a great addition to soups and salads. Cube stale bread slices and bake them on a tray in the oven or in a pan on the stove until golden, mixing occasionally. Optionally, season the cubes with herbs, spices and little olive oil before baking.
10. As a substitute for pastry for mini quiches, as on the photo below:
12. Servietten Knödel (German bread dumplings).
Please note: If the bread gets mouldy, it’s not edible anymore. This happens if the bread is stored in a plastic bag for a longer period or in very humid conditions. If you have a compost bin, toss it in there (break it up into small chunks!) rather than in the rubbish bin.