The crouton, the hard bread we all love
Originally, the word crouton referred to any piece of bread crust, be it from the ends of a long bread stick or simply a hunk of stale bread. Hardened, dried out, or grilled, it is used in cooking, and French bakers sell packets of it to avoid wasting unsold bread.
A crouton in the water while boiling cabbage … for sensitive noses
A crouton in the water while boiling cabbage … for sensitive noses A grandmother's household remedy that works. All you need to do is put a bit of hardened bread into the boiling water (also when steaming) for each cabbage. The bread absorbs the excess sulfates present in all Brassicaceae (the cabbage family). Result: the smell is much weaker around the home and especially on the plate!
Breadcrumbs: bread as a seasoning
Whether thin or thick, white or golden, breadcrumbs are essentially powdered bread. It can be made at home by grinding, crushing, or blending hardened bread, and is also sold in stores to liven up a number of regional dishes.
Gratinée à l'oignon: a classic dish served at Parisian brasseries
The word gratinée here is short for soupe à oignon gratinée (grilled onion soup). This dish, also known as French Onion Soup in English, harks back to the suppers that have been eaten late at night at Parisian brasseries since the Belle Époque. A good pick-me-up for those who may have partied too hard until first light.
Gratinée à L'Oignon Ingredients for four servings
1.75 pints (1 l) of beef stock broth
4 brown onions
0.2 pint (100 ml) dry white wine (Chardonnay) 8 slices of stale baguette 3.5 ounces (100 g) of grated cheese (Emmental) 1 ounce (30 g) of butter 0.3 ounces (10 g) of flour 1 bay leaf salt and ground black pepper
- In a cooking pot, brown the sliced onion in the butter.
- Add the flour and stir. Let it brown slightly while turning, then pour in the beef stock broth and white wine, and add the bay leaf.
- Cover and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Lightly grill the slices of baguette.
- Turn on the oven grill at a high heat.
- Taste the soup and adjust to your preference, take out the bay leaf and pour into ceramic oven dishes.
- Put the dishes on an oven tray.
- Place the grilled slices on top of the soup and sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
- Put the tray under the oven grill and let the soup brown. Serve piping hot.
Soupe des canuts lyonnais: a silky soup
Workers in the famous silk trade of Lyon were known as "canuts." As well as bread and stock, this leftover soup uses onions. The onion is a key ingredient in Lyonnais cuisine, like the shallot in Bordeaux and garlic in Provence.
Soupe des CanutsIngredients for six servings 1/2 a stale baguette 2 onions 1.75 pints (1 l) beef (or chicken) stew 0.4 pints (250 ml) milk 0.4 pints (250 ml) of light cream 1.75 ounces (50 g) grated cheese: Emmental or Comté
1 soup spoonful of port (fortified Portuguese wine) 0.8 ounces (25 g) butter salt and ground black pepper nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 356°F (180°C).
- Cut the stale baguette into cubes or chunks. Brown them on a tray in the oven.
- Skin and slice the onions. Brown them in a frying pan in whisked butter.
- pour into a casserole dish and Add the bread, stew and milk. Season with salt and pepper and grate a small amount of nutmeg.
- Cover and cook on a low heat for at least an hour. - Add the cream, grated cheese and port.
- Mix and serve immediately (possibly with some grilled croutons added in).
Bread gnocchi in sage butter: pasta made of bread
Bread gnocchi are adapted from the Italian recipe for passatelli in brodo—a kind of breadcrumb pasta that's very flexible, prepared during the holiday season. These gnocchi contain less parmesan and are firmer. They are served with sage butter.
Bread gnocchi Ingredients for four servings
5.3 ounces (150 g) breadcrumbs from stale bread 3.5 ounces (100 g) flour 3.5 ounces (100 g) grated parmesan 2 eggs 1 teaspoon salt 3.5 ounces (100 g) unsalted butter 5–8 sage leaves 1 garlic clove ground white pepper
- pour the white breadcrumbs into a salad bowl and sprinkle with water. Mix and rest for 10 minutes.
- Mix in the flour, parmesan, eggs and salt. The dough shouldn't be too sticky but should be a little dry and squishy (if it is too sticky, add a small amount of flour).
- Flour (i.e., dust with flour) a work surface and shape lumps of dough of around 0.8 inch (2 cm) in diameter, then cut them into 1.2-inch (3-cm) segments.
- Cook in salted boiling water (or chicken or beef broth). The gnocchi are cooked when they rise to the surface. Drain them with a skimming spoon.
- in a frying pan, melt the butter with the sage leaves and the garlic clove cut into two halves.
- Add the gnocchi after they've been thoroughly drained and brown them briefly in the butter mixture while sprinkling with water.
- Season with two twists of the pepper grinder before serving.
Croûtes perdues jurassiennes gratinées au comté (Jurassian French toast rusks with grilled Comté cheese)
This is a savory version of French toast from the Jura region (hence "Jurassian"). The crusts can be served as a starter with a salad or mushroom sauce. You can even add a thin slice of cooked Morteau sausage, another specialty of the Jura region, between the crust and the cheese before putting it under the grill.
TOSTADAS CRUJIENTES DE JURAINGREDIENTES para cuatro personas
16 rebanadas de baguete del día anterior, de unos 2 cm de diámetro 4 huevos 300 g de queso comté (madurado durante 12 meses) 250 ml de leche entera 1 cucharada colmada de crème fraîche 1 nuez de mantequilla Mostaza de Dijon Pimienta negra molida Nuez moscada
- Bate los huevos con la mitad de la leche, sal y pimienta.
- Añade las rebanadas de baguete y deja que absorban la mezcla.
- En una sartén a fuego medio, derrite la mantequilla mientras remueves.
- Escurre las rebanadas de baguete, dóralas por ambos lados y resérvalas.
- Precalienta el horno a 200 °C. Ralla el queso comté en un cuenco y añade la crème fraîche, la nuez moscada y el resto de la leche. Añade un poco de pimienta y bate la mezcla hasta conseguir una pasta espesa.
- Unta las tostadas con un poco de mostaza de Dijon y añade una capa generosa de la mezcla de queso. Colócalas en una bandeja o fuente de horno.
- Hornéalas hasta que estén doradas y hayan crecido un poco, con cuidado de que no se te quemen.
French toast baguette, caramel sauce, and salted butter
Everyone in France is familiar with French toast, which they call pain perdu (lost bread). This delicious dessert recipe was invented to use up stale bread. The hardened bread is soaked in a mixture of egg, sugar and milk similarly to a British sponge pudding, although instead of being cooked in a baking tin in the oven, it's fried in butter.
French toast baguette Ingredients for 4 servings
12 slices of stale baguette
1.75 pint (1 l) whole milk 3.5 ounces (100 g) powdered sugar + 3.5 ounces (100 g) for the caramel sauce 4 whole eggs 1 sachet vanilla sugar
0.7 ounces (20 g) unsalted butter 1 ounce (30 g) lightly salted butter
- Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla sugar.
- Stir the milk (set aside 2 soup spoons worth) into the beaten eggs while rotating the bowl.
- Soak the bread on the mixing surface, leave it to absorb the liquid, turning it over after five minutes.
- Heat a frying pan on medium Heat with a piece of unsalted butter. The butter needs to be browned a little but not go black.
- When the slices are soaked through, Drain them slightly before frying them on both sides. Put to one side.
- Make caramel with the sugar; when it's a light reddish color, take the saucepan off the heat to stop it cooking, and pour in the 2 soup spoons worth of milk (be wary of steam). Stir in the lightly salted butter.
- Serve the French toast warm with a drizzle of caramel.
Creole bread pudding
The pièce de résistance of leftover cakes. Pudding was invented in Europe in the early medieval period, and it was the British who helped this dessert evolve and spread its recipes around the world. The most famous example of this dish is the Christmas pudding or plum pudding. This particular pudding is an adaptation of the bread and butter pudding. We're borrowing the British recipe and introducing some Caribbean flavor with the addition of rum.
Creole bread puddingIngredients for 6 servings
1 leftover baguette
1.8 ounces (50 g) raisins
4.2 ounces (120 g) powdered sugar
0.4 pint (200 ml) milk
0.4 pint (200 ml) light cream 0.14 pint (80 ml) old or dark rum
- Leave the raisins to soak in the rum for two hours.
- cut the baguette up into large cubes. Add the powdered sugar to the eggs and beat as if making an omelet. Add the milk, soaked raisins, and rum. Mix well.
- Soak the dried bread in the mixture and leave to absorb.
- Heat the oven to between 356°F and 392°F (180–200°C).
- Coat a pudding tin 7 inches (18 cm) in diameter (or a cake tin) and pour in the mixture.
- Make a bain-marie—with 0.4 inch (1 cm) water—using a deep baking tray and bake the cake in the oven for around an hour.
- Take the pudding out of the oven and wait 30 minutes before removing from the mold and plating.
- Serve at room temperature with raspberry coulis or custard.
Baked apples, bread and butter
Baked apples, bread and butter: French crumble A super simple way to add a bit of flavor and crunch to this classic winter dish of baked apples. Cored and peeled apples, oven-baked with butter and sugar.
Chocolate breadcrumb cookies
We make these cookies by saving bread flour instead of the kind of flour that's normally used. The water has evaporated away during baking and ends up evaporating in the dried bread. The yeast is no longer active—it's done its job in the bread—and the little cookies will each contain the perfect amount of salt.
Ingredients for 16 cookies
7 ounces (200 g) white baguette crumbs (remove the crust before crushing) 4.2 ounces (120 g) dark chocolate 4.2 ounces (120 g) unsalted butter 3.5 ounces (100 g) powdered sugar 1 sachet baking powder 0.7 ounces (20 g) instant chocolate powder (for hot chocolate) 1 egg
- Mix the softened butter and the sugar well with a spatula.
- Stir in the egg then add the breadcrumbs and mix.
- Grate half the dark chocolate.
- Add the baking powder, grated chocolate and chocolate powder to the dough.
- Make into a ball and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Heat the oven to (356°F) 180°C.
- Lay out two sheets of baking paper on two baking trays.
- Shape the dough into several small (plum-sized) balls and flatten them with a spatula.
- Cut up the rest of the chocolate into large pieces to be put into the cookies on the tray.
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes while keeping watch.
Bread beer: a return to roots
Beer was originally a simple brew of fermented grain. The principle remains the same: retrieve the grain sugar in a mash tun and ferment it. That's why more and more craft breweries in France collect very cheap base ingredients from boulangeries to which they then add value by brewing this mixture of modern grains: crushed bread in water.
Collecting stale bread: putting a stop to food waste
This hardened bread that in the olden days was "thrown to the pigs," is now transformed into something to feed humans, especially since the cost of wheat keeps rising. This eco-conscious and communal act can only be a good thing in a society that's all too used to consuming and throwing away.
A French initiative
The engineer Franck Wallet is behind Expliceat, a consultancy firm based in Bordeaux that focuses on food waste. He is also known as the creator of Crumbler, un bread grinder for bakers and communities, which can be used to breathe new life into uneaten bread by turning it into raw material for the preparation of cookies or other desserts.