This week I’ve got a couple recipes to help you ‘re-purpose’ some of that bread that might otherwise end up in the garbage. If it’s dry, great! If it’s crumbling, great! If it’s stale, perfect! The only time you don’t use it is if it’s moldy. Even then it’s still good for the compost pile, if it’s in an enclosed container to keep out rodents. Meanwhile, here’s some food for thought from Brigham Young, one of the most practical of people.
“My faith does not lead me,” President Young said, “to think the Lord will provide us with roast pigs, bread already buttered, etc.; he will give us the ability to raise the grain, to obtain the fruits of the earth, to make habitations, to procure a few boards to make a box, and when harvest comes, giving us the grain, it is for us to preserve it—to save the wheat until we have one, two, five, or seven years’ provisions on hand, until there is enough of the staff of life saved by the people to bread themselves and those who will come here seeking for safety. … [The fulfillment of that prophecy is yet in the future.]
“Ye Latter-day Saints, learn to sustain yourselves. …
“Implied faith and confidence in God is for you and me to do everything we can to sustain and preserve ourselves. …
“You have learned a good deal, it is true; but learn more; learn to sustain yourselves; lay up grain and flour, and save it against a day of scarcity. …
“Instead of searching after what the Lord is going to do for us, let us inquire what we can do for ourselves.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, Deseret Book, 1966 ed., pp. 291–93.) , quoted in Marion G. Romney, “Church Welfare Services’ Basic Principles,” Ensign, May 1976
Today’s recipes give you a couple good ways to not waste that dried-out, stale, or crumbly bread. We have a little problem at our house with the heels of the bread- somehow I always find a heel or two in a bag at the back of the cupboard, dried out by then, of course. Those either get turned into croutons or French toast right away, or get stuck in my ‘old bread’ bag in the freezer. When I have enough, we make stuffing or bread pudding.
Cut bread into cubes and turn it into croutons: either sauté in, or drizzle with, olive oil or melted butter (1 Tbsp. for each 1-4 slices), sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, dill, oregano, parsley, Parmesan cheese, ranch dressing mix (1/2 pkgs per loaf of bread), or anything that sounds like a good idea. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until dry and crispy. Spread on a paper towel to cool, store when cool in a ziptop bag. They’ll keep for a good couple of weeks, if you don’t eat them first.
The ideal bread pudding is custard-y and creamy inside with a little bit of crunch on the outside.
Basic Bread Pudding
12 slices bread, cut in 1” squares, (the more stale, the better! – or bake them)
½ -1 cup raisins, soaked, optional
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
3-6 eggs (less makes it more dry, more makes more of a custard)
¾- 1 ½ cups sugar, to suit your tastes, white or brown
¼ cup butter, melted
½ tsp. salt
3 c. hot milk- ideally half-and-half, or one 12-oz can evaporated milk and 1 ½ c. milk
pinch ground nutmeg
Mix together the bread, raisins, and cinnamon. Dump into a 9x13 pan. Using the same bowl as before, beat the eggs, then stir in sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix until sugar dissolves. Slowly mix in the hot milk. Pour all of this over the bread, sprinkle with nutmeg, and let sit for 5-20 minutes to soak. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until center is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. If you bake this in a hot water bath, it will come out more custardy. Serve warm. Very nice with a dollop of whipped cream, scoop of ice cream, or a drizzle of some kind of sweet sauce (vanilla sauce, caramel sauce, rum sauce, maple syrup, etc.)
Variations: Use any dried or chopped fruit in this, (this is a great way to use those two lonely, shriveled apples sitting on your countertop!), shredded coconut, cocoa or melted chocolate (2-4 squares), chocolate chips, pecans or other nuts, rum extract, orange extract or zest.
For the liquid, you can substitute eggnog, hot chocolate, coconut milk, and about anything that sounds good. One great combination is shredded coconut with chocolate milk.....
Even if you think you don’t like bread pudding, you’ll probably love this one:
Caramel Bread Pudding- fills a 9x13 pan
15 slices good-quality white bread, cut into 1” pieces (about 16 cups)- baked until crisp (about 10 minutes at 450 degrees)
1 ½ sticks butter
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
¼ c. corn syrup or honey
5 tsp. vanilla, divided
3 c. half-and-half, or use the last ½ cup evaporated milk from your can (above),use whole milk for the remaining 2 ½ cups here.
5 large eggs
Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir about 4 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Remove from heat and stir in cream or evaporated milk, corn syrup, and 2 tsp. vanilla. Pour one cup of this caramel into a greased 9x13 pan. Set aside one more cup of caramel, to use as topping later. To the remaining caramel, add the half-and-half (or mixture of evaporated milk and whole milk). Beat the eggs together, then whisk in the half-and-half mixture a little at a time. Add remaining vanilla. Fold in the bread, and let sit until soaked through, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees. Put bread mixture into the 9x13 pan, bake about 40-45 minutes, until the top is crisp and the custard is barely set. Serve warm, with the reserved cup of caramel drizzled on top.