One loaf of bread, many genius ways to use it.
A squishy loaf of pre-sliced bread always pales in comparison to a fresh loaf of artisan sourdough bread fresh from your own oven, or that of your local bakery. One of these freshly made loaves offers an exceptional amount of character and amps up the sophistication level of any dinner table. However, after a day or two, the freshness begins to wane leaving you with more stiff, less than desirable loaf. Of course, we do not advocate for waste around here, especially given how many genius ways there are to use up your loaf as it begins to lose its fresh edge.
I spoke with Jonathan Davis, Senior Vice President of Research and Development at La Brea Bakery to gather tips for how home cooks can use what’s left of their loaves of once-fresh bread after a few days. La Brea Bakery is known for their craftsmanship when it comes to bread of all kinds, with their signature country white sourdough loaf and French baguette being amongst the most popular. After I tasted my way through a few loaves, we talked about all the ways to make the most of your fresh bread by making sure you use the entire loaf.
According to Davis, all you need to enjoy a loaf of bakery bread is good-quality olive oil. He also suggested mixing up a few of your favorite fresh herbs with softened butter to make an easy compound butter that you can smear over bread slices. You can also opt for making the obvious items, such as sandwiches (we recommend our grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich), French toast, and avocado toast. If you are heading over to a dinner party, bring over a French baguette matched with your favorite cheese instead of a bottle as a gift for the host. The bread can be sliced to set around a charcuterie board or used in a more casual snack dinner platter. Dinner hosts could also use the bread to make crostinis and bruschettas as easy appetizers. If you are hosting an outdoor cookout, throw a few thick slices of bread on the grill to get a few lovely grill marks on ‘em before you top with your desired spreads.
On day two, your bread is still fresh enough to do many of the things that you would do on day 1, however, it will be slightly more crusty on the outside and a little less fluffy on the inside. Day-old bread best to make recipes that call for just that, because it’s more sturdy and can usually absorb liquids well, while keeping its shape. Bread pudding is the first thing that comes to mind. You can make it savory or sweet, and utilize the bread in a way that creates a completely new dish. I absolutely drool over Pam Lolley’s Praline Bread Pudding and I’m already thinking about this Banana Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce even on day. A bright summery Panzanella is yet another great idea to use up day-old bread.
WATCH: How to Make Croutons 2 Ways
By day 3, your bread is bound to be super crusty and hard to the touch. This is the best time to make croutons or homemade breadcrumbs. Cut the remaining bread into bite-sized cubes and toast them, either on the stovetop with bacon drippings and/or olive oil for a chewy texture or in the oven tossed with melted butter for a classic dried crouton. To make breadcrumbs, slice your remaining bread and toast it in the oven at about 250°F for 20 minutes, or until the bread has completely dried out and stiffened. Allow the bread to cool for a few minutes and pulse your food processor (along with any desired seasonings) until nice and crumbly. You can store the crumbs in a zip-top bag and use them later to top casseroles, mix into meatballs, or bind crab cakes.