Ever find yourself wondering what to do with good Bakehouse bread that might be slightly past its prime? Homemade croutons have long been one of my favorite ways to turn what might have gone to waste into something truly wonderful. They aren’t hard to make, and they’re marvelous to eat!
If you start these with any of the Bakehouse breads, you’re certain to end up with a very tasty crouton! The crouton-making generally works better with older bread, but I’ve made the croutons successfully with fresh bread as well—you can let slices air dry for half an hour before you cube them up.
How to make them
Start the cooking by heating a generous amount of extra virgin oil in a skillet—more than a thin coating, but not so much that you’re deep frying. Drop in a peeled clove of lightly bruised fresh garlic. Cook gently for a few minutes at very modest heat, stirring occasionally so the garlic doesn’t brown. Take the garlic out and then turn up the heat a bit to something resembling medium. Drop a cube of bread in the oil to test the heat—the oil is ready when you get small bubbles coming up around the bread. Add the rest of the bread cubes. You don’t want to pack the pan so full that you can’t move the bread around. If you’re doing a big batch, you can split the cooking into two, so you don’t overcrowd. Stir steadily every minute or two so the cubes brown evenly. Be careful not to leave them alone—they can quickly burn.
As soon as the bread cubes are nicely toasted, move them with a slotted spoon into a mixing bowl. Immediately add a good bit of crushed sea salt. I like the Portuguese one for this because it’s finely ground (more on this salt soon) and subtly sweet. Add a good dose of freshly ground, really great black pepper. We have the Épices de Cru Tellicherry #10 at our house along with the 5 Star Pepper Blend (Tellicherry Reserve, Mlamala, Rajakumari, Tellicherry EB, and Shimoga peppercorns). Really, any of the peppercorns we stock at the Deli would be wonderful. The key is to season the cooked bread cubes while they’re still hot so that the salt and pepper stick well.
Change them up
You can certainly use other spices as well. I’m big on cumin and fennel. The Épices de Cru folks provide us with a wealth of wonderful curry blends—Trinidad Curry is one of my favorites. Finely ground chiles can be fun too.
I’m particularly partial to using the Roadhouse Bread for croutons. Something about the blend of rye and wheat (milled here at the Bakehouse) and corn, along with the subtle sweetness of the molasses is lovably enhanced by the browning and spiced by the salt and pepper. I end up eating half of them out of the bowl with my fingers like potato chips long before we put salad on the table. You can follow this same recipe with Cinnamon Raisin bread from the Bakehouse as well—the sweet-savory makes a nice touch on salads.
P.S. To make really great bread crumbs, just crush the croutons on a plastic bag or grind with a hand grater.
Hungry for More?
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- Order a loaf of Roadhouse online for local pick up (or give us a call to reserve a loaf)
- Ship a loaf to someone you love (don’t forget to share this blog post with them, so they can make croutons, too!)