Leftover Bread: Sourdough Spatzle

As mentioned in previous posts, I often have leftover bread that I don’t want to through out, but making bread crumbs and croutons gets a little repetitive. I have been brainstorming up what you can actually do with the breadcrumbs- other then as a breading. Peter Reinhart, master breadsman, has mentioned using breadcrumbs as flour in bread to add another dimension of flavour- if you can use it in bread, that what will it do as flour in other products?

I happened to be reading through some of my old recipes and passed by one for truffled spatzle (that went with braised beef cheeks and was delicious…..)- this immediately became my new bread crumb project!

To start with, I had leftover sourdough bread. The type of sourdough that I make has a shelf life of about 4 days, then it doesn’t mold it, morphs into something that you would replace (house) bricks with or is a lethal weapon. Putting it in plastic will make it soften a little, but it molds really quickly. After cubing it, I tried it in the food processor, but it almost broke- so then it was the meat grinder. Nice chunky crumbs.

There isn’t very much complication to making spatzle-you have to beat the snot out of the batter is the biggest thing. Some smack the batter, I grab an open handful and pull it up towards me- both of these “beatings” need to be done quickly to keep the gluten strands from tearing, they should be stretched. Beating the spatzle is a lot like kneading bread- it needs time to develop and it will let you know when it’s done. It becomes glossy/shiny and puffy looking.

Although I use a spatzle press ($20), you can use a colander and force the batter through with a rounded dough scraper or a few friends have even used a box grater, rubbing the batter through with your hand. I have seen a ricer used, but it reminded me too much of maggots and it freaked me out. Not recommended.

Sourdough Spatzle
450 g sourdough breadcrumbs
350 g bread flour
450 g milk (and maybe a little extra)
10 g salt
10 eggs

Soak the milk and the bread crumbs overnight- make sure to mix them a little bit to distribute the liquid evenly. The follwing day, add the remaining ingredients, if it’s really dry, just add a bit of milk, it should be a little thicker then pancake batter. Beat the batter until the dough starts to shine- this takes about 5-8 minutes. Let it rest for a half an hour in the fridge. While the dough is resting, bring a large, wide pot to a boil- complete with a good amount of salt, similar to pasta.

Get out whichever utensil you have chosen to use for forming the spatzle- press, colander or box grater. Fill’er up, and rest the utensil against the side of the pot for support. Force the batter through- I usually do them in about 1 cup batches make sure that the water stays the temperature that it should and that I don’t crowd the pot. The little dumplings will float when the are done- fish them out with a slotted spoon or a spider (available at restaurant supply stores, very handy), and toss them with a little oil to prevent them from sticking to each other.

You can eat them now, but I really like them seared in a little butter- the butter and the crispy texture is really awesome. Use these in place of pasta or rice as a side, or saute them with some vegetables and meat….This recipe makes a fair bit, but these freeze great!

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