If you’re baking bread on a regular basis, every now and then it will happen: a flop!
While a failed loaf of bread falls far short of an economic catastrophe, it still makes me wince to toss one out. So, I recycle it!
The simplest use for either a failed loaf or stale bread is to dry it and use it for bread crumbs, croutons, stuffing, etc.
Generally, my unsatisfactory loaves just didn’t raise well for some reason. The healthy ingredients – organic flours, Himalayan salt, milk, sweetener, etc. – are perfectly fine to use. Just not as a slice of bread!
If you’ve checked the grocery store recently, you know the cost of bread crumbs is plenty high. This greatly elevates the value of your disappointing loaf since you can make several cups of bread crumbs from an entire loaf.
You might also consider using the loaf as it is – without drying it – as filler for dishes like meat loaf, stuffing, bread pudding, etc. Some macaroni and cheese recipes and other types of casseroles call for bread crumb topping. The dried, grated bread also makes great breading for fried foods such as fish, chicken, etc.
If you can’t use an entire loaf at once, simply slice it, place either plastic or parchment paper between each slice, freeze, and use as needed. The slices will probably dry to some degree if they’re in the freezer very long, but that won’t have any adverse effect on your recipes!
To dry the bread, slice it or cut it up into crouton shapes/sizes or just small pieces. The small pieces are easier to work with when you shred it into crumbs.
It can take up to 48 hours to dry the bread. During that time, you can cover it with a light weight towel or paper towel. You can also warm up your oven a bit and set the bread in the oven to speed drying. I don’t recommend leaving the oven on very long or using a high oven heat. Just a little warmth to get the drying process started.
If the weather is warm and humid when you’re trying to dry the bread, you may want to consider using the oven on low heat to avoid providing a resource for mold to start growing.
Once the bread is thoroughly dried, you can shred it or break it up into the sizes and shapes you desire. Either a food processor or blender can be used to shred the dried bread.
After shredding, you’ll want to store it in an airtight container. If you don’t want to store the crumbs/croutons at room temperature, you can freeze it. Avoid storing it in the refrigerator as there is a significant risk that it will gather moisture and spoil.
It’s advisable to label and date the crumbs/croutons so there’s no doubt what you’re using and how long you’ve had it stored.
If you have no household use for dried bread products, you might consider feeding it to birds or chickens.
No matter how you use it, always consider recycling left over or unsatisfactory bread products!
Photo by Loretta Sorensen.
Long time journalist Loretta Sorensen, author of Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever!, regularly shares information and recipes for homemade breads. Find a link to her book on her blog site, www.bakeyourbestever.com and the Country Store at Our Dakota Horse Tales. Her weekly bread baking posts are featured on her web pages and at Mother Earth Living, GRIT Magazine, Pinterest and Facebook.