Watching fresh bread turn stale and lose its fluff is always disappointing. Maybe it sat out on the counter a bit too long, or perhaps it was too large to eat in one sitting. Regardless of the reason, your once-perfect loaf has become a chewy rock. Now what? Don't throw it away! Stale bread may seem like a lost cause, but it can be repurposed in several dishes. In fact, it's an excellent choice for making grilled cheese.
Perfect as a snack or a meal, grilled cheese is simple to make and offers endless variations. Whether you top your gooey concoction with Gruyère or Gouda, it's important to use the right bread. Fortunately, toasting a grilled cheese is the perfect opportunity to reuse any stale bread you might have. The toasting process will revive stale bits and return the bread to its former glory. Instead of discarding that half-loaf, transform it into the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich.
How It Works
Bread starts going stale almost as soon as it leaves the oven; once finished cooking, the starch in the bread begins to release the moisture it captured while baking. This release causes the bread to gradually dry out and harden, a process known as retrogradation. However, when exposed to moisture and heat, this process is reversed.
In the case of grilled cheese, slices of stale bread are heated by a hot pan instead of an oven. The searing heat of the stove, combined with the sizzling butter, helps reintroduce moisture to the stale bread, giving it more fluff and making it softer to the touch. Any lingering dryness is masked by the outer toasted layer, which gives the sandwich a nice crunch. To ensure that every section of the bread is covered in a golden crisp, soften the butter slightly and then use a knife to spread it directly onto the bread. If you add butter directly to the pan, it may absorb inconsistently across the bread, leading to a splotchy toast and areas of dryness.
Other Uses For Old Bread
Besides making a mean grilled cheese, stale bread can be used in a variety of other recipes. The easiest transformation might be using old bread to make breadcrumbs, which serve as a genius salad topping, and can also be used to enhance soups. If you'd like a larger salad garnish, you can toast chunks of bread to make homemade croutons.
Stale bread can even become the main ingredient in several dishes. Day-old crunchy bread, like ciabatta, stars in ribollita, a classic Italian soup made with minestrone and stale bread. This soup is primarily made with leftovers, and is a great way to clean out the refrigerator.
If you're looking for something sweet, incorporate pieces of older bread into your next bread pudding. Or, add some eggs and use stale pieces for a hearty French toast. There are plenty of options — just don't let it go to waste!
Read the original article on Daily Meal.