For My Next Trick, I Will Submerge a Bagel in a Bowl of Milk


A few months back, we had a lively discussion on ES about the importance of freezing bread. Here’s an instructional excerpt from Tim:

…thin bread from the freezer is so easy to butter before you toast, broil, or fry it. Mmm.
Bread in the fridge, however, will keep longer but will affect the quality and texture and will taste stale. Help educate your friends to stop bread refrigeration.

I’ve been trying to follow this advice. However, I still think there’s nothing better than fresh bread – bagels, baguettes, whatever – fresh beats frozen by a mile. So now when I buy any kind of bread, I try to make an exact calculation of how long it will last and keep just the right amount unfrozen. For example, I’ll buy a loaf of bread, keep six slices in the breadbox for the next three or four days and freeze the rest immediately. (The breadbox is metaphorical, I don’t really have one, who does anymore?)

In general, this works out well, but with this crazy modern life you never do know what’s gonna pop up at the last minute, and from time to time I estimate incorrectly and end up with that one rock hard stale bagel or slice of bread that I really should have just frozen in the first place.

My point is, life is pretty difficult these days. But my better point is, ya gotta have some recipes for stale bread.

I vaguely recall a recipe for a modern take on an apple brown betty that called for chopping up your leftover bread, muffins, croissants whathaveyou and baking them all together. I wasn’t able to find this recipe online, but Alex pointed me in the direction of the original idea behind French Toast – to bring stale bread back to life by soaking it in milk or eggs for a long time until it’s fryable. I poked around the interwebs a lil more and then started experimenting, coming up with this Stale Bread Surprise, which is a warm and filling rainy day breakfast.

Stale Bread Surprise

– Slice up whatever stale bread ya got into biteable pieces. I used an everything bagel, the remainder of a whole wheat loaf, and the crusty end of my mom’s leftover St. Patrick’s Day brown bread. (Sorry about letting it go bad, Mom, but you did send it home with chocolate chip cookies and muffins, something had to give.)

– Place all the bread in a saucepan, pour a cup of milk over the bread and turn the heat on low. Let this simmer until all the bread is soft enough to eat.

– Pour the milk out and throw a few spoons of brown sugar over the bread, as well as a handful of oats. Get creative here if you will, nuts, raisins, etc…Try to resist the overwhelming urge to add pine nuts.

– Throw your saucepan in the oven (oh yeah, use an oven-proof pan, haha). Bake for about half and hour, or until your de-staled bread has a nice crispy edge to it.

– Drown in maple syrup and serve.

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  • gansie March 31, 2008  

    i’m super impressed you made this baby up.

    and now that we’re chatting about bread, i have a Q about pita. one, i’m keeping it in the fridge, but i think for some reason, pita will stay pretty okay in the fridge. also – has anyone tried to make bread crumbs out of pita? at one point i was thinking of topping my eggplant lasagna with pita bread crumbs, but 80 negged it.

  • BS March 31, 2008  

    I also keep pita in the fridge – which I think is OK, because I always toast it anyway, and it’s not pita from the supermarket is fresh-baked or anything. I like the pita breadcrumbs idea, would work perfectly with your greekish lasagna

  • Tim March 31, 2008  

    flatbread > pita

  • gansie March 31, 2008  

    and one tip about begals — if you cream cheese the begal, then put it together as a sandwich, it will keep in the fridge for a couple/few days. i think the moisture of the cream cheese keeps the begal from drying out too much.

  • DAD GANSIE March 31, 2008  

    add some cinnamon and egg and you have great french toast; a little vanilla adds taste too

  • Alex March 31, 2008  

    Alternatively, you can soak the slices/pieces of stale (like REALLY STALE) bread in milk and eggs and a little nutmeg or cinnamon or vanilla or whatever till it’s soaked all the way through, and then fry in oil or butter with some sugar till a little crispy. You usually have to soak for awhile to get the best result – like a couple hours – then fry for awhile over low heat, till it’s cooked through. This is REAL French toast, also known as pain perdu – “lost bread.”

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