When your business involves food preparation based on guess work, you invariably end up with leftovers.There is a very limited profit margin in the food industry, so you make it where you can- preventing food loss definately helps the margin expand in your favor, making a sellable product out of something destined for the compost heap is even better. In my career, I have been blessed with an overwhelming abundance of bread. When I worked in restaurants that serve bread- leftovers. I bake bread for market- leftovers. Now we have a restaurant/ farm shop that serves/ sells bread- leftovers.
Yesterday I think I processed 16 loaves of sourdough, 8 baguettes, 3 sheets of foccaccia, some cornbread and a couple dozen rolls, leftover from the past week and a half. When I have the time, I actually like the challenge of re-inventing…. How many things can you actually make from leftover bread? There are the obvious- bread pudding, stuffing, croutons, bread crumbs… I personally have never met a bread pudding I liked, so that was out, I have no plans for a stuffing feast for 30, so that’s a pass- although I like them, there are only so many croutons you can use/ sell, same with bread crumbs…
So I made 3 batches of croutons- roast garlic and herb out of the the white foccaccia, multigrain with cracked black pepper and sea salt, and honey whole wheat and fennel. A batch of multigrain bread crumbs, some crostini out some of the sourdough. And then I needed something new.
Before I get too far in, I must apologize for not getting pictures of some things because I didn’t think to post about leftover bread- I will update as I make things again. Anyway- I started reading through some of my books for anything that had to do with leftovers, which seem to lack the “leftover bread” category in the indexes. One of my favorite authors came through for me- Peter Reinhart, the Godfather of Bread, actually had a bread partially made of bread crumbs. This in on the docket for tomorrow as my bread crumbs are ready- I even had a EUREKA moment making these- I ground the bread after I cubed the leftovers, then placed them in the dehydrator. The last time I made bread crumbs, I dried the cubes first and then ground them- I wound up taking cover to protect myself from schrapnel spewing out of the machine: the other way is much safer.
After the books, I hit the internet to see what everybody had to say- there were a few interesting things, but not a lot. Apple brown betty, bread puddings, use the bread a thickener in stews, bread soup, bread salad…. One I thought was kind of interesting was using bread crumbs as you would oats for breakfast- I am dehydrating the cornbread for this purpose, I thought it would have a better outcome then the other options I had.
The sourdough I make goes pretty hard after about 4 or 5 days- we’re talking material for a retention wall…. I kept thinking about uses of bread crumbs I hadn’t really considered before- like the bread and what better flavour then a sourdough! I tried my new method for making bread crumbs, which quickly came to a halt when the sourdough crust threatened to take out the food processor. I usually don’t give up that easy, so I was racking my brain how not to need to abort this mission. DING! Meat grinder!!!! While it didn’t make fine bread crumbs- it did make flakes of bread. These bread crumbs are going into spatzle….hmmmmmmmm…………….
The most important step I find in making croutons is to add enough oil to lightly touch each crouton, add the oil slowly, mix constantly and you’ll that each piece of bread will get it’s share. I season my bread enough to be seasoned on its own, so I usually don’t add too much before toasting in the oven. With the oven at 350F, keep moving the croutons so they don’t darken too much in one spot- they are done when you eat one and it’s crunchy, about 20-25 minutes. FLAVOURS:I had oil I had roasted garlic in, so I used that instead of adding garlic that might burn. Everything else was add, taste, add, taste, add, taste.
Using a meat slicer or a very steady hand, slice the bread to the thiness of a dainty cracker. Lay them out on a sheet pan in a single layer, bake for 7 minutes at 350F or until crispy. These are great in place of potato chips with dip, great with cheese….