Did you know, we waste around 24 million slices of bread every day in the UK? That’s a lot of bread. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Save that leftover loaf with these top tips and stale bread recipes.
Photography: Natalé Towell
Provided you’re using a proper baker’s loaf (not the shelf-stable supermarket stuff), stale bread can be a wonderful ingredient in its own right. In fact, stale bread has been used for centuries in traditional cooking and has created some of the most iconic dishes we still know and love today. Eggy bread and bread and butter pudding are probably the most well-known stale bread recipes in the UK. The Spanish have Romesco sauce and the Italians have lots of their own versions, too, from panzanella to ribollita.
Real bread versus supermarket bread
Real bread will harden as it goes stale and works brilliantly in the above recipes, as it will when turned into breadcrumbs and croutons. In comparison, supermarket bread tends to be packed with additives to make it last longer. That means it doesn’t go stale. Rather it goes mouldy. Beware of this when using up your leftover loaf as it won’t work in the same way.
How to use up stale bread
So you’ve bought your loaf and you’ve stored it properly, but you just won’t use it up in time. You could slice the rest and pop it in the freezer for another day. Or get inspired with these easy tips and stale bread recipes.
1. Crunchy croutons
Slice or tear stale bread into croutons to add wonderful crunch to salads and soups. You can make a variety of croutons. Slice your loaf into small neat squares (perfect for sprinkling over soups) or tear bread into rough, rustic-style croutons for tossing through panzanella and big sharing salads. Or make a mixture. To dry them out, drizzle with a little olive oil and place in the oven at 180ºC until crisp. Store in a jar at room temperature.
Breadcrumbs are a useful ingredient to have in any kitchen. They add golden crunch to pasta bakes and salads, they bind burgers and meatballs, and provide the crumb for fish fingers and chicken kievs. In fact, there’s never any need to buy breadcrumbs ready-made from the shops. Simply tear bread into a food processor and blitz into crumbs. For dry breadcrumbs, place in the oven at 180ºC until crisp, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. Store a ready supply of fresh breadcrumbs in the freezer.
Ways to use your stale breadcrumbs:
- Blitzed and sprinkled over creamy burrata in this salad.
- Combined with lemon zest and fresh parsley, and sprinkled on spaghetti with capers and olives.
- On fish goujons and packed into tacos with chive mayo.
- On mac ‘n’ cheese.
Dry out slices of bread in the oven at around 180ºC until dry, crisp and slightly golden, then store in an airtight container. Serve as you would crispbreads. Wonderful for a healthy snack with hummus.
Do you have your own clever stale bread recipes? Comment below!
Love real bread? Find out why supermarket sourdough is a con, and how BreadBread bakery is pioneering the real bread revolution.
For more waste-free tips and tricks, check out these clever recipes from Massimo Bottura’s cookbook, Bread is Gold.