For the Love of Stale Bread

Posted April 21, 2021

Nothing is as delectable (and economical) as a no-waste kitchen. Did you buy a delicious loaf of bread at the market and not eat it all by the time it got a bit stale? Fear not, you can craft a full meal (or maybe a few) from your old loaf!

Let’s start with breakfast. Have you ever wondered what the French call French toast? ‘Pain Perdu’ means lost bread, but you won’t lose any points dishing up French toast with fresh berries for breakfast!

  • 4 slices of stale bread, each ¾ inch thick
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup almonds, finely chopped and toasted
  • 1 cup fresh berries
  • Butter for cooking

Finely chop and toast almonds. Spread evenly on a plate. Whisk together eggs, milk, honey, vanilla, and salt. Put this mixture into a deep plate and add one slice of bread to soak up the mixture. Flip the bread to evenly coat with liquid. Dredge one side of the bread in the toasted almonds. Heat a pan to medium and add one pat of butter.  Cook one side of toast till golden brown, flip, and repeat. Once the second side is golden brown, push on the toast to see if any of the liquid is still present. If still wet, finish in the oven at 350°F for 5 minutes.

Cover in fresh berries and dust with powdered sugar. Drizzle with honey, maple syrup, or if you are lucky enough to have some, Alpine Blue Farms apricot sauce!   

For lunch, let’s add some crunchy croutons to any tasty salad:

  • 4 cups stale bread, cut ½ inch cubes (use any kind of bread except baguette, it gets dangerously hard and should be ground for breadcrumbs)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley and green garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Toss the cubed bread in your mixture of oil, butter, herbs, and salt in a large bowl.  If the bread does not immediately absorb all the lipids, allow it to sit in the bowl until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Place the cubes on a sheet tray and if any herbs remain in the bowl, scrape them onto the top of the cubes. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes, stir your croutons, and rotate your pan to bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown. 

Dinner time? Try a savory bread pudding. 

  • 4 cups stale bread, cubed into ¾ inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons California olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 cups spinach, chard, or kale
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup of milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of grated cheese

Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium heat.  Sauté the shallot for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté until the mix starts to brown.  Add the wine and cook until most of the liquid cooks off.  Add mushrooms, spinach, and salt and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add milk to cool quickly.  In a bowl, beat eggs.  Add the milk and vegetable mixture and stir to combine.

Add the bread, toss to absorb the liquid, and stir in ½ cup of cheese.  Place this mix in a baking dish, top with the remaining cheese, and bake at 350 degrees F for 40+ minutes.  Check the pudding at 40 minutes, and test doneness by inserting the knife in the center of the pudding.  When the knife comes out clean, enjoy!    

As you can see there is no shortage of things to do with that loaf.  Do not discard it!  Reincorporate for maximum deliciousness!