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It’s a few days since you bought it, so you’re considering condemning the contents of the bread bin to a future in the wheelie bin or the local duck pond. But don’t just throw it for the ducks (it’s not good for them anyway!). Instead, use your loaf with these 3 simple stale bread recipes that make your weekly shop go further - including tips on how to soften stale bread, and dinner ideas with bread that you may not have previously considered – whether stale or freshly purchased from your local convenience store.

A Few Crumbs of Advice When Cooking With Stale Bread

Before we divulge our stale bread recipes, here is some handy advice and a few tips on cooking with stale bread:

How to soften hard bread: bread goes stale because it contains a high level of starch, which starts to crystalise in cool or dry conditions. The key to reviving stale bread is moisture! Simply run your loaf/slices/baguette under a tap for a few moments, then whilst still damp, pop it in the oven at 180°C for around 3-4 minutes. You should find that your bread is now soft enough to slice or tear.

Perfect for breadcrumbs: many top chefs believe that if you’re making a dish using breadcrumbs, homemade are the best option. A great use for stale bread, cut off the crusts and then add to a food processor with some salt and pepper. Put them in an air-tight container and they’re ideal for freezing.

A handy ice cream topper: sounds strange doesn’t it? But if you mix up some breadcrumbs in the same way as above, but instead of salt and pepper you add in some brown sugar and cinnamon, or perhaps some cocoa powder, you’ll have a delicious homemade dessert topper – one of the sweeter uses for stale bread.

Make your bread last longer: we’re already solving your dilemma of how to cook with your stale bread, but to prevent it going stale too quickly:

  1. Don’t store any bread that is still warm - allow it to cool completely.
  2. Don’t keep your bread in the fridge – cool conditions speed up the crystalisation process.
  3. Store your loaf in the bread bin, in a plastic bag at room temperature.

Our Favourite Stale Bread Recipes

Here are some deliciously simple recipes to use up bread and satisfy the whole family at meal times:

Lemon Bread and Butter Pudding

This is a bread-based classic, and with the addition of some lemon curd, you can put a tangy twist on this family favourite.

To serve four, you will need:

  • 8 slices of stale bread
  • 50g of sultanas
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • A jar of lemon curd
  • 350ml of whole milk
  • 50ml of double cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 25g of sugar

Cut the crusts from your stale bread and spread each slice with a thin layer of butter and lemon curd, then cut them into triangles. Grease a one litre square pie dish with butter and put a base layer of bread slices, butter/curd side up. Add a layer of sultanas and a sprinkling of cinnamon, then top with another layer of bread and continue this until all bread has been used up. Don’t add any sultanas to your last layer.

Gently warm your milk and cream over a low heat, but don’t allow it to boil. Crack your eggs into a bowl and mix with 20g of your sugar until pale and pour in your cream and milk. Stir gently and strain into a pouring jug.

Pour your custard all over the bread and fruit and sprinkle the top with your remaining sugar. Bake for 35 minutes at 180°C until the top is golden brown.

Tomato and Leek Bake

There are plenty of savoury stale bread recipes and this is one of the easiest and best. This is ideal as a breakfast treat or leftover based lunch.

To serve four, you will need:

  • 200g of stale crusty white bread, such as a baguette
  • 25g butter
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 100g of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 eggs
  • 200ml of milk
  • 100g of mature cheddar cheese, grated

Grease your baking dish with butter and pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Tear up your stale bread and fill your baking dish, leaving it to one side. Heat your butter in a large pan until it starts to bubble and foam, then add your sliced leeks and garlic, softening over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. When softened, pour the contents of the pan over your bread and top with your cherry tomatoes.

Beat together your eggs, milk and cheese. Season and pour over the bread, baking for 20 minutes until crisp and golden. Serve with a big dollop of ketchup.

Tuna Panzanella

If you’ve never tried Panzanella before, it is an Italian bread salad from Tuscany. This is a healthy and quick recipe that is packed with colour and flavour.

To serve two, you will need:

  • 250g of stale bread, ciabatta is a traditional choice.
  • 4-5 tomatoes
  • ½ a cucumber
  • 8-10 basil leaves
  • 200g tin of tuna in brine
  • 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil – well, it is Italian after all!

Dip your stale bread into some cold water, then squeeze firmly and crumble into a bowl. Halve your tomatoes, extract the seeds and roughly chop up the flesh. Slice your cucumber and then cut each slice into quarters.

Add the cucumber and tomatoes to your bowl of bread and tear in your basil leaves. Drain your tuna and flake into the bowl along with your vinegar, oil and a little salt and pepper. Mix together well and serve.

Find Crunchy Cobs, the Best Baguettes and Lasting Loaves at SPAR

Make your weekly shop go further with these top tips and stale bread recipes. Find a selection of breads, along with all the other ingredients you’ll need at your local convenience store.