Many operators contend they shouldn’t use higher quality bread because of the higher cost and the perceived notion that these breads tend to age more quickly. However, the value and versatility of high quality bread tell a different story. You can add interest to your menu with top quality bread and help keep your customers coming back.
It’s a cinch avoiding bread waste, as quality bread — even a day or two past its prime — can take centre-stage in a multitude of dishes, from breakfast through dessert. “Typically, a few of the best ways to use bread as it ages is in crumbs, croutons, stuffing and as a base for crostini,” offers Weston Foods Foodservice. Crumbs can also be used as a binder in burgers, meatloaf and crab cakes, and are quintessential as breading used to coat everything from pan-fried schnitzel to deep-fried calamari.
Here is a selection of more deluxe ways for using up less-than-fresh bread:
- Gremolata: consisting of crumbs mixed with fresh herbs and lemon zest, used to add colourful and flavourful impact to a variety of dishes. Sprinkle on braised meats and baked or tossed pasta dishes — with or without the addition of minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil or grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bread pudding: a baked dish made with day-old bread mixed with custard, it can be made savoury with the addition of flavourful add-ins such as roasted garlic, thyme, roasted cherry tomatoes and brie cheese (great with roasted chicken or steak). Or, serve as dessert with such extras as chopped dark chocolate and dried cherries, and accompanied with a complementary sauce like crème Anglaise or (perhaps vanilla or coconut) ice cream. For an outstanding twist, swap out the bread for stale croissant pieces.
- French onion soup: this timeless dish offers a classic way to use stale bread, swimming in caramelized onion-and-wine-enriched broth under a blanket of bubbling cheese.
- Pappa al Pomodoro soup or panzanella salad: a pair of traditional Tuscan dishes, both serving as an ideal way to use stale cubes of rustic bread, along with tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil.
- French toast: another classic, this beloved brunch dish offers an excellent way to use quality bread, and is especially good made with brioche. While topped with maple syrup or fruit preserves and served up sweet is the norm, savoury stuffed French toast offers an enticing spin on tradition. Try it with ham or turkey, Swiss cheese and spinach along with grainy mustard.
The upper crust
“Quality breads are made with no preservatives, no additives, no added-sugar,” says Michelle Cave, key account manager at Boulart. “It remains fresh because of the high hydration content but clearly ages more quickly than some commercial breads.”
Along with knowing how best to make use of stale bread, Cave offers another perspective and simple solution: “If you believe in the true value of high quality bread but want to avoid waste, the best option is to buy full-baked flash frozen bread. The flash freezing process seals in freshness for up to nine months and allows the operator to simply thaw (or reheat, if crusty is preferred). A 100% baked bread gives you the possibility to thaw or reheat on demand.”
“Bread is the first impression you give to a customer,” she adds. “Is it really where you want to save?”
Did you know?
More goods on top-notch bread from Technomic Canada:
- 40% of casual dining consumers would be more likely to visit/purchase food from restaurants more often if they offered higher-quality menu items.
- Bread and meat quality are the top two most important attributes for premium burgers, at 84% and 85% respectively.
- 71% of consumers are willing to pay more for sandwiches that feature premium or higher-quality ingredients.
- 53% of sandwich customers would pay more for higher-quality bread.
- 84% agree that bread quality is extremely important when creating a good sandwich.