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Making Breadcrumbs


Chris Amirault
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When whatever loaf we’ve been eating gets down to its last few slices, I lay them out on a sheet pan or cutting board and let them dry out on the counter for a few days. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll put the slices in my old Wedgewood’s oven, where the pilot light keeps the temperature at about 100F. When the slices are really dry, I toss them in a bag, and when the bag starts taking up too much room in the bread drawer, I make crumbs.

I’ll break up the dry slices a bit, then put them in the Cuisinart and process. The results are uneven, a mix of fine powdery crumbs, granular little nuggets, and chunks that look like rejects from the crouton factory. But they work perfectly for my ongoing fritter habit. And they last pretty much forever.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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For simplicity's sake, I "make" fresh breadcrumbs whenever we're near the end of the loaf, and pop the crumbs into the freezer in a heavy reusable bag. If I want/need "dry, fine crumbs" for a coating, then I can dry out the crumbs in the (countertop) oven for a few minutes, while prepping the rest of the recipe.

Some folks may want to avoid using a plastic bag for enviro-reasons. But in this case, using a reclosable bag facilitates keeping the air out, which, in turn, decreases the formation of ice crystals during storage.

Karen Dar Woon

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Not so long ago I found a way to make great breadcrumbs from Alice Waters' Art of Simple Food. My adaptation: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pare crust from day-old country-style bread, cube bread, and process in a blender. Toss crumbs with salt and 1TB olive oil per cup of crumbs. Spread on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown, stirring every few minutes for even color.

Yes, a blender. The crumbs from my blender were fine and evenly chopped, much better than when chopped in my Cuisinart. Learn something new all the time.

BTW, Waters' book contains a mini-thesis on breadcrumbs, a full page and a half in the book, starting on page 62, that discusses types of bread for good crumbs, types of good crumbs for the various kinds of dishes, how to preserve the crumbs, how stale is stale (1 or 2 days), how to embellish (olive oil, herbs, duck fat, butter), fresh vs. toasted crumbs, proper toasting technique for even coloring, and more. It's a little overwhelming. Before reading this essay, I myself couldn't come up with more than 3 sentences to say about breadcrumbs.

ETA: When using a blender or food processor, pulse to the count of 5, stop, and check the texture of the crumbs. Then continue for another count of 5 if necessary. This prevents overprocessing the crumbs, yes?

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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I stack leftover pieces of bread that I think would be suitable for breadcrumbs off to one side of the breadbox to dry, and when I need them or they are taking up too much space, I grind them in the blender and put them in a ziploc bag in the cupboard until I need them. If I want more coarse breadcrumbs, I put them in a bag and hammer them with a rubber mallet.

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I keep bread ends and remains in one bag in the freezer, and turn them into crumb as a batch when the other bag (of crumbs) gets low. The bread is part fresh and part slightly stale. I don't dry it out before or after crumbing: just tear it into maybe 6 or 8 pieces per slice, and blitz a slice or so at a time in the cup blender / liquidiser.

In "Things you'd be crazy not to make yourself" we had a discussion about Japanese panko. I posted this link to a page at Frystar that shows the panko-making process. They bake Chorleywood-process bread, leave it to sit for some time, crumb it and then pack it (for fresh) or dry out and pack it (for dry).

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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