Turning Stale Bread into Something Tasty

At our red house any leftover crusts or stale scraps of bread are kept in the freezer.  Whenever I need bread crumbs, I thaw out the scraps of bread then whiz them up in the food processor.

It may seem crazy to save scraps of bread when at most the money saved is only a few cents.  I mean, it's not as if I can't afford to buy a box of commercial bread crumbs, should I so wish.

I save scraps of bread for a number of reasons:
  • It does save money, even if only a small amount.  
  • It reduces waste, although I am sure our four chooks would happily eat any stale bread I gave them
  • Fresh breadcrumbs taste better and are better than commercial bread crumbs for some purposes, such as poultry stuffings
Home made bread crumbs can be used for anything for which you might ordinarily use commercial bread crumbs, such as:
  • Poultry stuffing
  • To extend burgers or rissoles
  • To crumb schnitzels or cutlets
  • Mixed with a little melted butter, to top gratins
Vintage cook books provide numerous ways to use up stale bread.  In particular, some wonderful, old-fashioned desserts make a feature of stale bread, most notably summer pudding and bread-and-butter pudding.  Desserts using fresh bread crumbs include many steamed puddings and apple strudel.

Tonight I made Apple Betty, a recipe found in my 1950 edition of the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook. This recipe achieved the double purpose of using up stale bread and using up four apples that had come home uneaten in lunch boxes.  Notes are inserted (see italics) where I made changes to the original recipe.

Apple Betty

3 cups sliced apples (I peeled mine, as well as slicing them)
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup water

Mix apples, 1 cup bread crumbs, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Place in buttered baking dish (I used a corningware casserole) and pour melted butter and water over top.  Mix remaining crumbs with a little extra butter (I added a little extra brown sugar and cinnamon) and sprinkle over top.  Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F) 30 to 45 minutes (mine took 45 minutes using a fan-forced oven at 160 degrees C).  Serve hot or cold with hard sauce (I served mine with home-made egg custard). Serves 6.

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