Making the most of stale bread
Stale bread has numerous uses. Try these simple suggestions to turn your leftovers into something delicious, or whizz them into breadcrumbs in a food processor and keep a bag in the freezer.
Use up stale bread
Slices without crusts. Use to line a greased bowl, fill with soft fruit, top with more bread and press down with a plate and weight overnight for a summer pudding. Dip in egg and milk and fry for French toast. Layer buttered slices in a dish with sultanas and lemon zest, top with vanilla custard (see below) and bake to make a bread and butter pudding.
Cubes. Fry or bake in the oven, drizzled with olive oil, to make croutons. Add to a tomato soup to create the Italian pappa al pomodora or to any vegetable soup to thicken it.
Breadcrumbs. Mix with onions and herbs to make stuffing; fruit and nuts, such as dried apricots and almonds, can also be added. Mix with chopped herbs and use to top fish pies or other savoury dishes as an alternative to potato. Use with flour and beaten egg to coat food before frying. Mix with sugar and lemon zest then layer with apples, dot generously with butter and bake in the oven for an apple charlotte.
Make real custard
Custard can be served with any hot dessert or cold with fruit. It’s an essential ingredient of trifle, the basis for many ice creams, and a perfect accompaniment to the summer pudding or apple charlotte that you’ve made with your bread leftovers.
Makes 500 ml (2 c)
- 500 ml (2 c) whole milk
- 1 vanilla pod, split, or 2 ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract
- 5 egg yolks
- 40 g (3 tbsp) sugar
- Bring the milk slowly to the boil in a heavy-based pot.
- Add the vanilla pod, leave to infuse for 10 minutes then remove.
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick, add vanilla extract, if using, and stir in the hot milk.
- Clean the pot, strain the mixture back into it, then heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon until it thickens.
- Never allow custard to boil or it will curdle. If it starts to “turn”, remove it from the heat at once and put it into a blender or processor. You can also strain it into a bowl sitting in an outer bowl of ice cubes and beat vigorously.
- If you don’t have a heavy-based pot, cook custard over a pan of barely simmering water.
Follow these simple tips to make the most out of your stale bread.