This month at CRAFT we’re covering all things recycled and upcycled. Food is no exception. We all have to get a little crafty using our leftovers and preserving what’s about to spoil. So with that, I am pleased to introduce San Francisco’s foodie and cooking extraordinaire, Jarod Hermann, who will be sharing some of his tips on making use of what’s at hand in the fridge and pantry. This week we’ll be talking about revitalizing stale bread, and some uses for bread that’s beyond help.
We all do it … We buy that yummy loaf of pugliese or sourdough baguette, swearing it will get eaten with that night’s spaghetti, and then we leave it on the counter for 2 days. Whoops! Guess it’s French toast time! But there is a quick way to revitalize your stale bread back to it’s former goodness without battering it up. All you need is water and heat. This trick is good for loaves and buns alike.
*Note: Bread that is especially stale, like curling on the edges could be used as a rolling pin hard, is most likely beyond resuscitation. Though there are things to do with it. See “Uses” after the jump.
Step 1: Water
Much like a sponge, bread will take up moisture and hold it. Stale bread is essentially dehydrated bread (there’s a bit more to this equation, including ingredients, baking methods, and storage conditions, but we don’t need to address all that for this project). In the sink, run your bread quickly under a light stream of water (doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold), passing it back and forth, always in motion. You want to do it just enough to get everything wet — 3 or so passes.
Step 2: Heat
Wrap your bread in foil and put in a preheated oven on 325° for 10 min. You don’t want to recook the bread, just warm it, but if the oven is too low your bread will be soggy. Unwrap the bread and put it back in the oven for 5 min to crisp. When you’re done the loaf should be toasty and flaky on the outside, a little crunchy, but will give easily to the touch. Much like fresh!
Tip: Place your bread on a pizza stone instead of the oven rack for direct heat vs. ambient heat. The bread will cook more evenly.
Alternate method: For bread that is only mildly stale, you can put it in a plastic bag with a packet or two of desiccant to perk it up. Personally I find this method a little icky with all the condensation, and you run the risk of growing mold.
Uses for bread beyond resuscitation:
Make bread pudding, or a stale bread salad. Cut it into cubes or pieces, throw them in a freezer bag to use for stuffing later. Use the inside in soups in lieu of a roux. Slice on the bias and pan toast in olive oil to make crostini (toasted bread), which is great with chopped tomato (bruschetta) or dipped in hummus. Break it into chunks and put below a chicken roast in the oven. Nothing like a little schmaltz (chicken fat) to put some new life into an old loaf!
About the Author
Jarod Hermann is a recovering Chef living in San Francisco. He is now open about his food preferences and liberally applies them to his friends and family. He also plays musical instruments.