Things to Do with Stale Bread

Freshly baked bread doesn’t stay fresh for long. Here are 10 ideas for what to do with it after its prime.

Note: These preparations are for bread that is slightly stale —a day or two old. If your bread is rock hard, go right to step 10.

Watermelon Gazpacho: Use bread to add consistency in many soup recipes, like our Watermelon Gazpacho.

Panzanella: Italians think it’s blasphemous to throw away bread, so they have lots of recipes made specifically to use leftover loaves. Tuscan bread salad, called panzanella in Italian, is one of our favorites.

French Toast Sandwiches: We like to call it the classy pain perdu, because it’s stuffed with Grand Marnier, orange marmalade, and cream cheese.

Egg in a Nest: This is a childhood dish that translates well to adulthood, especially if you beat the egg together with fresh minced herbs and brush the bread with roasted garlic before you start.

Bread Pudding: César Restaurant in Berkeley has a good version. Blood oranges work especially well.

Bread and chocolate: A great snack or an informal dessert that is especially good when made with a baguette. Top the bread with a piece of bittersweet chocolate, and toast it until it the bread is golden brown and the chocolate starts to melt. Drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt, and serve.

Croutons: Dice day-old bread into large cubes, and combine it with enough extra-virgin olive oil that it’s coated but not saturated. Heat the oven to 375ºF, and toast the bread until it is dry and golden, about 15 minutes. For an extra twist, toss the croutons with a bit of pesto, cayenne, or sumac as soon as they come out of the oven.

Fresh breadcrumbs: Tear the bread into big chunks, throw them in a food processor, and pulse until you have breadcrumbs. If you want dry breadcrumbs, toast the bread in a 375ºF oven for 10 minutes, or until it is dried out, prior to putting it in the food processor. You can store fresh breadcrumbs in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 10 days. Use them in a recipe like Pumpkin Tortelli.

Refresh it: The most successful revival technique we’ve found is this: Heat the oven to 300ºF. Place the bread in a paper bag. Close the bag and dampen it slightly. Bake the bagged bread for about 5 minutes or until it is like new. You have to be ready to eat the bread in 10 minutes, or it will get even harder than before.

Say good-bye: If your bread is rock hard, there’s not much you can do. Ditch it.