One of the things I’ve always appreciated about bread in France, is the ability to get a demi-baguette at almost every boulangerie. Since baguettes are meant to be eaten immediately, or certainly by the end of the day, their shelf life is in measured in hours (not weeks, like some of our breads). While American baguettes have a slightly longer shelf life, you’re usually required to buy a whole one (and of course, ours are bigger…), so we generally have most of one lying around getting stale. If I remember to catch them before they’re so stale you could use them to hit a hardball, I chop them up and make breadcrumbs.
- Cut (or rip) the bread into ½” pieces
- Pop them in a food processor.
- Process until the crumbs are a size that you like. I keep mine in a Ziploc bag in the freezer, ready for action.
Your other option is to make croutons, which I do with all the heels of bread, or whatever is lying around. This is for a good amount of bread, cut down the amounts if you’re just using end pieces.
- Cut or tear your bread into about 1/2″ pieces
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large garlic clove, put thorough a press (optional)
- Large pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450°. Put the melted butter, olive oil, salt, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add the bread and toss until well coated. Put on a cookie sheet or hotel pan and cook until golden-brown, about 8 minutes. Put on a wire rack to cool. Store in a Ziploc in the freezer or toss these in soups or salads and enjoy!
True confession, when I make Caesar salad, I used to use commercial croutons. Not anymore! These were so easy and delicious, and a look at the ingredients on the back of the crouton bag just made me cringe. I would have liked a bit more salt in them, but I held back. You could also toss them in some Parmesan, herbs (I kept eyeing a big bunch of basil on the counter), whatever strikes your fancy. You can also flavor them to go with what you’re serving. Almost any type of bread will work, pita, rolls, etc.