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River Cottage Bread Handbook

Seven ways to use your loaf

by River Cottage Bread Handbook published on
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Seven ways to use left-over bread

Half of all the food produced in the world ends up in the bin, a report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers revealed today (Thursday 10 January).

That's the equivalent of 2 billion tonnes of perfectly edible produce which ends up as waste because it doesn't look quite right, together with supermarket bulk offers and strict sell-by dates.

It's estimated that it hits us in the pocket to the tune of almost £500 a year.

Today's report has predictably generated a lot of debate on our Facebook and Twitter pages, so we thought we re-visit 'Seven ways to use your loaf', a short piece by Bread Handbook author Dan Stevens on using leftover bread.

Let us know what you think, and share your tips below with the River Cottage community.

SEVEN WAYS TO USE YOUR LOAF

I never throw bread in the bin and neither should you – unless, of course, it is mouldy, which it shouldn’t be if you’ve stored it properly.

Consider these possibilities for your ageing loaf:

Cut the whole bottom crust off your loaf and use as a plate for a stew. Afterwards, eat the plate. It may sound silly, but this was an old English staple, known as a ‘trencher’. A good, thick slice of stale bread in the bottom of a bowl of stew is still an excellent idea.

Rip bread up into big chunks keeping the crusts on. Toss them in olive oil and bake until golden for wonderful croûtons to drop into soup. You could add some grated cheese as you toss – for a tastier, more stuck-together affair.

Make a bread sauce to serve with roasted poultry or game. Remove the crusts, tear the bread into chunks and soak in just-boiled milk infused with a small onion, a bay leaf and a few cloves for half an hour. Reheat and season generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to serve.

Rip bread into smaller chunks to make Spanish migas. Fry the bread in lard or bacon fat until crispy, throwing in some bacon lardons and sliced onion for extra flavour if you like. Season with salt and pepper, and finish with chopped parsley. Serve topped with a fried egg for the perfect breakfast.

Make breadcrumbs by blitzing chunks of bread, a handful at a time, in a food processor to make coarse crumbs. Freeze any breadcrumbs you won’t use straight away. They freeze brilliantly and you’ll find endless uses for them:

• Use to thicken soups, or sprinkle over dishes to be flashed under the grill for a crisp topping.

• Or to coat fish: season fillets of fish, dip into flour, then into beaten egg, then into breadcrumbs and shallow-fry. (For a thicker, crunchier coat double-dip them in the egg and breadcrumbs.)

• Or to make ‘poor man’s Parmesan’: shallow-fry breadcrumbs in olive oil
with a little salt until crisp, drain on kitchen paper and scatter over pasta. Dry breadcrumbs completely spread out on a tray, in a very low oven or somewhere else warm, then blitz again until super-fine.

• Use to make Scotch eggs: seal just-softer-than-hard-boiled eggs inside good-quality sausage meat (100g per egg), dip first in flour, then into beaten egg, then into fine, dry breadcrumbs to coat. Deep-fry in hot oil at 170°C for about 5 minutes, until the sausage meat is cooked through.

• Or, if you make your own sausages, use these dry breadcrumbs as rusk – they will soak up fat and moisture, keeping the sausages juicy.

• Or use to coat your own homemade fish fingers.

And don’t forget toast – one- or two-day-old bread makes better toast than fresh bread. Or do as Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Give me yesterday’s Bread, this Day’s Flesh, and last Year’s Cyder.’ Sounds good to me... Or, try the recipes on the following pages. 

5 replies
Replied on

Don't forget the catalan way. Rub a squishy tomato over the bread, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle pepper on it, salt if you like. and EAT yum. much better than butter. you could rub a garlic clove over it first if you like.

Replied on

I use up our bread with an old fashioned Bread Pudding. Great either hot or cold.

Replied on

Or better still, given the weather, share your surplus with the poor birds (and don't forget to ensure that they have unfrozen water available every day).

Replied on

yeah, bread & butter pudding.

Replied on

Bread and Bread and Butter pudding not on your list?

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