This another recycled food recipe, where we take an ingredient that’s perfectly healthy but in some way or another past its prime, and upcycle it into culinary greatness.
Bread pudding is a canvas for greatness. Crumble your bread products, add eggs and liquid (milk, cream, yogurt), any flavorings you want like almond, liquor, cinnamon, or vanilla, and bake it in a casserole dish until it’s pudding like.
Bread pudding doesn’t even have to be for dessert–day-old bread crusts or the ends of the loaf you never eat will make you a nice bread stuffing for a holiday or special dinner.
There’s no need to toss the old bread! Recycle it like a gourmet chef.
- All your leftover bread. Don’t limit this to bread only. This works for cakes, cupcakes, banana bread, zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, leftover muffins.
- Sweetner: Maple, honey, sugar, brown sugar–anything.
- 2-6 eggs.
- 2 tsp vanilla or almond extract–or both
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- really good chocolate. Or… chocolate chips
- Melt butter in a large-bottomed kettle.
- Add sugar.
- Stir forever. Slowly. On low. This is important. If you rush this, it will be grainy and bad. So, put on a podcast and stir.
- Add the corn syrup and vanilla at some point, but be careful about the vanilla splashing–it’s alcohol. The corn syrup is chemistry here–it keeps the sugar from forming crystals which make your recipe grainy if you don’t get the temp chef-perfect. If you’re one of those “I don’t use corn syrup” homesteaders, think of this–you’re about to eat two cups of sugar melted in two cups of butter topped with chocolate. Maybe you should give yourself a little wiggle room for science here.
- Cook to about 305 degrees. If your candy thermometer is as unreliable as mine, this takes about 15 minutes or so depending
COST: $ Nearly free. This recipe costs nothing if you make butter, a buck or two if you bought it and a few pennies for the sugar. So, three bucks total if you have normal person chocolate. If you’re chocolate’s from France or Switzerland, add a few bucks.
- All your leftover bread. This is especially great for day-old, baguettes, buns, and end crusts. If you need to, put them in a freezer bag and freeze them, and them over time. I dehydrate them sometimes, too. For ratio purposes, 8 cups should fill a casserole.
- 1 Tablespoon of fresh stuffing herbs or 1 tsp total dried spices: thyme, marjoram, oregano, salt, poultry spice blend–you can be flexible here. Experiment!
- Hot water or chicken broth.
- Stuffing veggies: 1 chopped onion, 2 stalks chopped celery, a finely-chopped carrot
- Optional: 1 egg
- Sauté “stuffing veggies” in butter.
- Add in 4 tsp more butter.
- Toss in bread and liquid.
- Melt 4 tsp butter in a large-bottomed kettle.
- Add dried bread from your dehydrated or freezer collection.
- Mix in the egg, herbs or spices.
- Toss everything together and put in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-minutes or until the middle is cooked through, not dry.
Pro Tip: This is highly flexible–cooking times will depend on how deep your casserole dish is. Also, it’s perfectly legitimate to stuff a chicken or turkey with stuffing–that’s the whole point after all–but that may mean the bird doesn’t get to temp in the middle. So, unless you’re certain that it does, you’re risking salmonella. Go with the casserole!
This freezes well for meal prep. Pack it in portions or dinners and freeze away. If it gets dry, add a bit of hot water when you reheat.
Variations: You can add in apples, nuts, and raisins. I’ve done mushroom stuffing by using mushroom broth and sautéing a bunch of mushrooms that needed to be used. You can make a spicy southwest with chili, cumin, and peppers–the sky’s the limit here. Go nuts!
COST: $ Nearly free. You’re saving the bread from the garbage and you’ve got the spices on hand.
Bread Crumbs and Croutons
- All your leftover bread.
- Olive oil
- Garlic, salt, and seasonings.
- Slice or cube day-old bread and put it on your dehydrator, in the sun (safe from birds) or in a 200-degree oven until dried through. Make sure it’s 100% dry.
- Use your food processor or a mortar and pestle (for you off-the-grid people) and smash this into crumbs. Mix in any dried seasonings you like–garlic, oregano–anything.
- Store in a mason jar–with a silica gel packet if you ave one.
- Cube the bread–make it “crouton size,” whatever size you determine that to be.
- Put a little olive oil, garlic powder and salt in a large bowl and toss the bread cubes.
- Bake in a low oven–300–for 15-20 minutes, until crispy and getting dry.
- Use the dehydrator to finish the drying process or reduce the oven to 200, bake for another half hour, then shut off the bread and leave it without opening the oven door.
- Store in a mason jar, preferably with a silica gel packet, but only after the croutons are dried–olive oil that is not dry can spoil. Don’t overdue the amount you use here.
Pro tip: any dried spices work for this recipe. Go nuts!
COST: $ Nearly free. You will be reusing bread you were going to toss.
Another thing you can do…
Feed your bread products to your chickens unless they have mold. Chickens will thank you for your old, stale food, but mold is unhealthy to them, too.
Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash