Recipes For Stale Bread
July 17, 2013 7:35 AM   Subscribe

I have an endless supply of baguette and ciabatta, thanks to my current brokeness and my teenage background as a dumpster-diving crust punk (pun intended). It's preservative free, high quality french bakery bread that is about 12 hours old when I acquire it. It's already a little stale, and moulders within two days. I'm looking for tips on storage and for about a million recipes I can utilize to use it all up.

The bread goes rock hard if I keep it in a brown paper bag, and gets overly chewy and soft if I keep it in my bell jar/cake case. Is there a better method for storage?

What are some recipes? I'm looking for combinations for savory bread puddings and stratas (if you just want to list ingredients, I can figure out milk/egg ratios) as well as tips for the most authentic New Orleans bread pudding with bourbon sauce and variations on it. What are some recipes that use insane amounts of bread crumbs? I've never made panzanella before. There have to be more variations on bruschetta than the usual. TELL ME HOW TO EAT ALL THIS BREAD.

i eat meat, i can buy any ingredient in chicago basically, my allergies are my problem not yours
posted by Juliet Banana to Food & Drink (40 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Cut it up and make croutons! Whole Foods does this.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:36 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can store bread for a more or less infinite length of time in the freezer, if you're not too concerned about the texture when it comes out.

Stale bread will make excellent homemade breadcrumbs. Just throw it in the blender or food processor if it's totally dried out, and if it's not totally dried out, toast it in the oven until it is.

Homemade croutons (cube bread, toss with olive oil or melted butter + salt, pepper and your favorite herbs and spices, then bake on a cookie sheet for about 15 mins at 400° F) are the bomb diggity on salads and soups.

I enjoyed this Cauliflower Bread Pudding very much.
posted by BrashTech at 7:41 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Cut it, separate the slices with waxed paper, and freeze in a freezer bag. Reconstitute via toaster. If you do this as soon as you acquire the bread, it should stay fine in the freezer for at least a few weeks.

When I have really great fresh tomatoes and basil, I make a bread salad (chunks of toasted bread, olive oil, tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella, salt, pepper). Yumm. Also you can make a roast chicken bread salad.
posted by charmcityblues at 7:42 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Panzanella works best with stale bread.

Also, bruschetta!
posted by xingcat at 7:44 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Make breadcrumbs and use them in meatloaf or tuna cakes or crab cakes

Apparently Italian bread soup is a thing

Bavarian bread dumplings!
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:44 AM on July 17, 2013

I second the freezing suggestions, but if you're into bruschetta:

Caramelized onions on herbed butter or goat cheese

Cut clove of garlic + really good olive oil (the most traditional)

Figs+ ricotta
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:45 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Breadcrumbs + crushed brazil nuts + egg + grated mushrooms + salt/herbs = fricking awesome vegetarian mince which will replace mince beef in lasagne, enchiladas etc and is so goddamn delicious that you might not bother with beef again (I make mushroom enchiladas twice as often as beef ones).

Oh man. I am going to make enchiladas tonight. I keep breadcrumbs in the freezer for emergencies such as this.
posted by greenish at 7:50 AM on July 17, 2013 [15 favorites]

Don't underestimate the restorative power of spreading water all over the bread and reheating it in the (toaster) oven. Make sure to eat it quickly because it will end up even drier in the end.
posted by scose at 7:52 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've found the best method for storing crusty bread (other than freezing and reheating) is to put it inside a paper bag and then put the paper bag inside a plastic bag. The plastic bag keeps it from drying out, the paper bag keeps it from getting excessively chewy.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:58 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ribollita is soup with bread as a thickening agent. There are lots of variations on recipes - here's a typical example (it doesn't matter if it calls for sourdough bread - a good quality french/italian bread works just as well and in fact works a bit better when stale). Here's a simpler and quicker version (and the one I usually start with). Add/subtract ingredients based on what you have on hand/is in season.

Surprisingly the recipe in the second link is quite tasty cold, so at this time of year I'd make some up at night when it is cooler in the kitchen, refrigerate it then eat it the next day.
posted by mikepop at 7:59 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

My favorite strata is this one.
posted by hungrybruno at 8:00 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I bet you could make some variation of Fattoush. It is a Lebanese bread salad usually made with stale pita bread, but I bet you could adapt it to the bread you have. There are multitudes of recipes online.
posted by fancyoats at 8:03 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bread crumbs ---> bread sauce (great with chicken or turkey).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:04 AM on July 17, 2013

From Portugal try

acorda (pronounced asorda)


posted by foleypt at 8:07 AM on July 17, 2013

If you slice the bread and lay it out on a clean screen or wire rack--or possibly even leave whole loaves uncovered in a well-ventilated area--it should dry out and keep for weeks without molding.

Bread dried in this manner can be used in any recipe which starts by saturating the bread in eggs or (uncooked) custard, including bread puddings, stratas, french toast etc., though you may need to allow for longer soaking. Being breakfast foods, many strata recipes call for the assembled dish to spend the night in the fridge anyway!

Once it's fully dry, you can just store it in paper bags in the pantry, assuming you don't have millers.

As for recipes: I love migas made with bread, though I usually use stale bolillos, which are less crusty. Sopa de ajo is also excellent.
posted by pullayup at 8:08 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would definitely freeze what you can (slice first). It goes straight in the toaster without any defrosting.

Panazella / bread salad is SO GOOD, I've never made it myself but yum.

How about toasted sandwiches? Grilled cheese (many variations here) - either in a toaster oven, in a frying pan (with oil or butter), or in one of those George Foreman things.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:09 AM on July 17, 2013

Pappa al pomodoro (there are a lot more recipies out there, just do a web search). Sooooooooo delicious and really nice in the summer served at room temperature or even cold.
posted by goggie at 8:11 AM on July 17, 2013

It will freeze well, and defrosted will make a good bruchetta base. You can also let it go stale but not mouldy and make Coach House Bread and Butter Pudding. Which is technically a dessert but I can eat it three meals a day, warm, cold or anything in between, naked or with raspberry sauce.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:15 AM on July 17, 2013

There are so many recipes that won't work unless you have exactly what you have (high quality, no preservative, stale bread.) My summer favorite is fattoush/panzanella; and in winter there is nothing better than ribollita. Also, the entire category of bread puddings, including strata, is best with this kind of bread. I would slice, dry in a 200 degree oven, and store (in pantry if your area is dry and mothless; otherwise in freezer.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:16 AM on July 17, 2013

A few other ideas:

If you get any dark loaves which contain rye, make kvass. You could try it with wheat bread, but it might not be awesome (and you may not think kvass is awesome anyway).

If you have access to good ripe tomatoes, spanish-style gazpacho is thickened with bread.

I can't vouch for its authenticity, but I've used this bread pudding recipe, and it's very good.
posted by pullayup at 8:17 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Slight variation on migas: Saute the bread and some onions and spinach in oil. Thrown in a can of tuna and an egg. Season with black pepper.

Or make puttanesca: saute garlic and a can of anchovies in oil until the anchovies are dissolved. Add olives, a chopped tomato and capers. Simmer for ten minutes. Pour this over the stale bread and season with red chili flakes.
posted by seemoreglass at 8:18 AM on July 17, 2013

Bread crumbs are an element in The Weirdest Pasta Sauce You've Ever Heard Of That Is Still Surprisingly Good - for a quarter-pound of pasta (that's about enough for one person), you'll need a couple good glugs of olive oil (somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 cup), a clove of chopped garlic, an anchovy fillet chopped up, about a quarter cup of chopped walnuts and 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs.

While you're cooking the pasta, heat the olive oil in a skillet, then add the garlic. Let that saute for about a minute (watch it, you don't want it to burn), then add the anchovy. The thing that will blow your mind is that the anchovy will DISSOLVE into the oil. When it finishes doing that, dump in the bread crumbs, take the whole thing off the heat and give everything a stir; the heat from the oil will toast the crumbs.

You can toast the walnuts, or not, as is your preference (toasting the walnuts is easy - put 'em on a baking sheet and stick 'em in an oven at 350 for a few minutes - if you have a toaster oven it's even easier). When the pasta's done, toss it with the walnuts and the oil/crumb/anchovy mix. Top with chopped parsley if you have it.

Note that this is NOT some weird invention I made up out of my head. It's an Italian cooking secret in some parts of Italy to use bread crumbs if you don't have parmaesan cheese, apparently, so this is a traditional recipe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh, another good bruschetta recipe - all you need is butter, arugula, and something called bresola, which is really really thinly-sliced air-cured beef (think like proscuitto, except proscuitto uses ham and bresola uses beef). I've seen bresola in some foo-foo supermarkets.

All you do is take a half a stick of butter and let that soften to room temperature; then get a bunch of arugula and chop it. Then dump both the arugula and the butter into a food processor and whiz that until it's completely blended. Spread the arugula butter on a bruschetta bread slice, top it with a slice of the bresola, and eat.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:22 AM on July 17, 2013

Toast and grilled sandwiches are fine with bread that is not perfectly fresh.

A strata is pretty much a quiche with bread as the crust, so you can adapt any quiche recipe to use bread, stale or otherwise. Many strata recipes call for a can of cream of fakery soup. This is an abomination, which you will eschew. My favorite is Onion (Tart) Strata - cook sliced onions in olive oil until transparent. Dice bacon, fry it, drain. Make a base with cubed bread mixed with eggs and milk, mix bacon, shredded gruyere and onions with more eggs and milk. Top with some gruyere, bake.
You could use feta and spinach and top with thinly sliced tomatoes and a bit of parmesan or mozzarella, browned breakfast sausage and jack cheese, browned Italian sausage with sauteed peppers and mozzarella, etc.

Slice bread into spears, brush with olive oil, sprinkle w/ parmesan or another good melty cheese, and use w/ a nice tomato sauce as dippers. You could probably use bread spears with any thick vegetable sauce/ soup - spinach, squash, broccoli.
posted by theora55 at 8:22 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can make all sorts of Knödel (bread dumplings): Semmelknödel, Serviettenknödel, etc., best with mushroom sauce or goulash/pörkölt!
posted by meijusa at 8:27 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

A couple of wonderful dip/spread/sauces thickened with bread crumbs: romesco and muhammara.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:44 AM on July 17, 2013

If you're a breakfast person, this is my favorite recipe for Creme Brulee French Toast. The slices are soaked in, um, heavy cream and milk before baking. Once the slices are baked, you can freeze what's leftover (without the caramelized sugar coating) and reheat in the oven. So delicious!
posted by sevensnowflakes at 8:50 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like stuffing as a side dish, even without a bird to stuff. Martha Stewart's basic bread stuffing recipe sounds a lot like what I learned from Mom (although we go lighter on the eggs.)

The New Orleans Praline Bread Pudding with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce from EPCOT's Food and Wine Festival may be completely inauthentic for all I know, but I think it's damn tasty.

Another nice Disney bread pudding recipe is the Banana Bread Pudding from Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:55 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ribollita (Tuscan Bread Soup)

Or an Egg Puff!

Cut the crusts off the bread and line a greased, oblong, baking dish (I use Pyrex) with the slices.

7 eggs
Dijon Mustard
2.5 cups Milk
1 can chopped green chiles (mild)
1 lb shredded longhorn or mild chedder or chedder/jack cheese blend.

Put half the cheese on the bread. Sprinkle the chopped chiles on top of the cheese. Put the rest of the cheese over that.

Beat the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and a glurg of mustard together. Pour over the cheese, chiles and bread.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. The egg will puff up and the top will be crunchy and brown (melted cheese crunchy, aaarrrrggg)

This is an excellent brunch meal but I'll eat it any time!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:03 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Another thought---Fondue!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:03 AM on July 17, 2013

For the breadcrumbs:

How about baking a cake with the bread crumbs+nuts/almonds instead of flour? (I have a 60+ years old cook book that has a nice recipe - couldn't find it online though.)

Here are some other cake recipes:

Orange almond breadcrumb cake & cookies.

Apple and bread crumb cake.

Butterscotch Breadcrumb Cake. (Around halfway down the page)

Bread Crumb Carrot Cake.

The breadcrumbs could also be used as a crust and filled with fruit/cream. Here is a savory crust for a quiche.

Those pistachio, apricot & feta balls look nice.

Broccoli with bread crumbs.
posted by travelwithcats at 9:46 AM on July 17, 2013

Some ideas rather than recipes per se:

In addition to more traditional stuffing, you can make your own stovetop stuffing that is very simple and comes together in about 10 minutes.

You can also use a fair amount of breadcrumbs to do your own homemade shake-n-bake. For chicken I like to cut up boneless chicken into nugget-sized pieces, dip in beaten egg, and toss in a ziplock bag with seasoned breadcrumbs (do them in batches 3 or 4 at a time and you'll get more complete coating). You can do pork chops in a similar fashion, except it works best to put the crumbs on a plate and just press each side of the chop into the crumb mixture. With fish I find it works best to set the fish out on a spray-oiled pan, mix up some mustard and mayo 50/50 and brush it on (you can also use any creamy type dressing to good effect), then sprinkle the seasoned bread crumbs on top, not too thick.

If you want to get a little zany, you can replace the "glue" in either the chicken/porkchop or fish recipe with barbeque sauce, mild hot sauce, or yogurt, and you can use a lot of different seasoning blends such as Italian blend, Cajun blend, garlic and parmesan, or lemon pepper.
posted by drlith at 9:46 AM on July 17, 2013

French toast. It's mentioned in passing elsewhere above, but the thing about French toast is this: it's a dish that was invented to use up stale bread. The French call it "pan perdu" which is something like "lost bread" or "forgotten bread."

You can make up more than a single serving at once, and then toast it later on; it's still fantastic. Once made, French toast is basically moistureproof, so you can enjoy sandwiches (or burgers!) with wet ingredients without turning soggy, even when there's no mayo, the traditional waterproofing layer for sandwich bread.

It's important not to limit, in your mind, French toast to the category of breakfast -- french toast is bread with enhanced flavor and texture, resurrected from the cruel fate of staleness and pigeonfeed. We have the technology!
posted by Sunburnt at 11:05 AM on July 17, 2013

Tofu, Peanut Butter, & Roasted Tomato Panzanella, originally from Heidi Swanson (101 Cookbooks), is super tasty and an interesting spin on panzanella.
posted by soleiluna at 11:35 AM on July 17, 2013

You can freeze bread. Freeze it well wrapped, defrost it and use like normal. I like to toast a lot, seriously, cut and toast those rolls and smother them in proper butter, delicious. Toast in the bottom of a bowl of soup or stew to soak up all the yummy flavours. Toast the bread get a clove of garlic, cut off one end and smear it all over the bread getting all that garlicy goodness all over it, drizzle on some olive oil or heap on some fresh summer tomato slices.

Also bread salad is a thing, it is actually better with older slightly hard bread.
posted by wwax at 12:15 PM on July 17, 2013

posted by leotrotsky at 5:57 PM on July 17, 2013

French onion soup.
posted by slateyness at 6:41 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


My Auntie used to make me the most divine milktoast when I was sick. Just the right degree of firmness against your tongue before it dissolved. Ambrosia.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:44 PM on July 17, 2013

I just made this Caprese Panzanella the other night, and it was awesome.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:51 PM on July 19, 2013

Salmorejo is an extremely delicious Spanish soup that uses more bread than gazpacho. It is eaten cold and can be used as a sauce. It really needs good red wine vinegar, but otherwise it's a cheap dish.

There's a simple River Cafe recipe for a soup with chicken stock, Savoy cabbage and ciabatta topped with ricotta that is submersed in the soup. It is quite lovely.
posted by 8k at 3:11 AM on July 21, 2013

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