Thursday, June 30, 2016

How to Make Homemade Croutons

I will be the first to declare you a big, fat liar if you say this has never happened to you: you buy (or bake!) a delicious loaf of Italian/French/rye/whatever bread to top off your yummy homemade dinner—only to be left with a hunk of quickly staling bread the next day...

If you are like me, the thought of throwing it away makes you partially wither inside. Bread, considering it is basically flour and water, is SO HARD to throw away. Those memories of last night's dinner, when it was warm and soft...

And now? Huh. You could make French toast, but it's the middle of the week, and who has time for that except on weekends? You could freeze it, but frozen bread always gets weird.

Soooooo.... What do you do?

Make homemade croutons, baby! It takes five minutes to prep while the oven is warming, and in 45 minutes you can have toasty, crispity, delicious croutons for FREE. Who wants croutons out of a box when you can have these???

How to make homemade croutons from stale bread

I know, right???

And they are ridiculously easy to make. Here's how I do it, BUT (everyone say it with me) you can do it however the hell you want. It's not going to make a life-changing difference. Swears.

Ingredients:

  • hunk or slices of bread of any sort
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • dried herbs, fresh ground black pepper, spices (optional)

Tools You Will Need:
  • a large-ish bowl, a large cookie sheet, a serrated (the one with teeth) knife, a cutting board, a metal spatula

Steps to Make:

1.  Preheat your oven to 275° F.

2.  As your oven is heating up, cut your bread into slices. I do mine about an inch thick. If you like smaller croutons, slice thinner. Then take each piece, lay it flat, and slice lengthwise and then across so that you now have bread cubes. Try to make them all relatively the same size.

3.  Dump the bread cubes in the bowl. Pour several really good glugs of olive oil into the bowl over the bread cubes. Sprinkle on the kosher salt and any additional flavors you want to add, then get in there with your hands and toss, toss, toss! You really want to make sure that all the cubes are really well-coated.

(NOTE: The amount of oil used is going to depend on the amount of bread cubes you have and how much you personally want to coat your cubes. I like to really coat mine well. I find the flavor to be better if the cubes have a good soaking of oil. You may feel differently. Try it out and see what you think. No matter what you do, they are going to taste great.)

4.  Pour the cubes out onto the baking sheet, and spread them out into an even layer with some space between them. Pop them in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes (for smaller croutons, set it for 10). When the timer goes off, give them a toss with the metal spatula to flip them over. Shake them back into an even layer, then toast them for another 20 minutes. Larger croutons are probably going to be done at this point. If you are doing smaller croutons in 10-minute intervals, you are probably going to want to do three (3) 10-minute intervals. Just test them with a good ol' bite-test to see if they are as crispy as you desire.

Let them cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack, then seal them up in a Ziploc bag with the air squeezed out. They will remain nice and crunchy for quite awhile...

Hope you enjoy them! Store-bought ones don't even compare...

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