Friday, February 5, 2010


I know what you're saying: "He's writing a blog entry about breadcrumbs?"

I am.

I have a thing about throwing stale bread away -- it either gets made into bread pudding, into breadcrumbs, or it gets fed to the birds and squirrels.  I seem to have the fattest birds and squirrels in Delaware County living in my backyard.

So that which isn't squirrel food or bread pudding becomes breadcrumbs.  It's really easy and is satisfyingly frugal.

Cut up the bread (whether a sliced loaf from the supermarket or an artisan boule from the specialty bakery) into cubes, and process it in your Cuisinart until you get coarse crumbs.  By the way, I don't cut off the crusts.  They're just fine for crumbs.

Pour the 'fresh' crumbs into a foil-lined baking dish or baking sheet and toast in a 325°F oven until they're well dried and a bit toasty in color.  Every so often during the process, stir them up so that the moister crumbs on the bottom have an opportunity to dry out, too.  Your goal is to have completely desiccated bread that will store at room temperature without spoiling for long periods.

The toasted crumbs in a baking dish, just out of the oven.

Once dry and toasted, reprocess the coarse crumbs into a finer form.  This is when the foil lining of the bakign pan comes in handy.  It's much easier to transfer the toasted crumbs into the food processor when you can lift them out of the pan with the foil.  Store the crumbs in an airtight container.

Coarse dry, toasted crumbs.

Fine dry, toasted crumbs, after processing.

I will admit that this batch may have gotten just a little too toasty, evidence that you have to keep your eye on the drying process.  A typical batch may take 20 minutes in the oven.  It depends completely on the type of bread you use and how dry it is. 

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