Everyone has made a bread that has failed at some point. This is usually something that happens to the beginner baker, but even a more experienced one can have bad days. Maybe your yeast has died, or you tried a new bread out that you were unfamiliar with.
Failed bread can come in many shapes and sizes. Bread that didn’t rise is dense, bread that blew out the side is unshapely – I think we can identify failed bread as one that can’t be used for its normal purpose.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be wasteful as you can always do something with it, even if it wasn’t destined for Instagram.
Some Tips On Using Up Failed Bread
Failed bread usually means it doesn’t have the nice interior crumb we are looking for in bread or it can’t be sliced up to consume. But the bread still has all the key ingredients to be used for other purposes where its shape and texture aren’t so important.
If the bread is really bad, then the absolute easiest thing you can do is make breadcrumbs. When you think about how many dishes use breadcrumbs – you have the base of many meals. They are sometimes used as the main focus or sometimes to add some texture. Breadcrumbs can be used in a wide variety of dishes from breading chicken, meatballs, thickening soups, or making a crunchy topping on pasta.
If the bread is just a little dense, then there are benefits for that too – such as making foods suited to flatter breads like crostini, croutons or with cheese.
In this article I’ve included a list of staple foods that you can make with your failed bread. There is a recipe included in each section which should give you some inspiration!
Here are 12 things to do with failed bread:
Croutons are so simple to make, and taste much better than shop bought ones. It doesn’t matter if your bread is a bit flat as it’s baked again in oil which crisps it up. Just preheat an oven to 400F/200C, tear or dice some failed bread onto a baking sheet. Drizzle the bread with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs and toss a few times to coat. Bake for 20 minutes, turning if browning too much.
Get the recipe – Homemade Croutons
Breadcrumbs can be made in a variety of ways and used for so many recipes. The best are made from making croutons and crushing them with your hands or a rolling pin. You then get the flavors of the oil and seasonings with the crumbs. For a simpler version – just take your failed bread and place into a food processor and process until fine. They can be crisped up in a pan if you like.
They can be used for many recipes- chicken, fish, meatballs, sauces, soups, pasta toppings and gratin to name a few.
Get the recipe – Homemade Breadcrumbs
Panzanella Bread Salad
This salad of bread and tomatoes comes from Tuscany and is a classic Italian salad. Dry bread is best as the vinaigrette dressing soaks into the pieces and doesn’t fall apart. The bread is mixed with veggies such as fresh tomatoes, peppers and olives for a dish packed with flavor and saltiness. It absorbs the dressing by using dry bread, but croutons can work as well – just a little more crunchy.
Get the recipe – Classic Panzanella Salad
Bread pudding (or bread and butter pudding), is a classic dessert from the UK where I am from. Pieces of bread are buttered and baked with a custard and some dried fruit. Using failed, dense bread for bread pudding is fine because it ends up soft and squidgy from the custard. Tough and dense bread can be transformed into something edible with the help of milk, sugar and eggs.
Get the recipe – Simple Bread Pudding
Crispy Breaded Chicken
Probably the dish I think of most when cooking with breadcrumbs! Chicken with a crumb coating can be used with lots of different chicken cuts. Try breading breast pieces for chicken nuggets or a flattened chicken breast schnitzel for something more fancy. You can choose to fry these for the best taste, or bake for a healthier option. Serve with green salad and parmesan shavings.
Get the recipe – Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken
Garlic Breadcrumb Spaghetti Topping
Sometimes its unbelievably how simple ingredients can come together to make a great meal – and this is one of them. Try this savory alternative to parmesan cheese that can give any pasta dish great texture and taste. Take some failed bread and make breadcrumbs. Add garlic, chili, parsley and anchovies and fry until golden brown and crispy. Sprinkle over spaghetti and smile!
Get the recipe – Spaghetti with Fresh Breadcrumbs, Garlic, and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Crostini are Italian appetizers of toasted bread. They are crisped up in small slices which almost resemble crackers. The bread can be of any shape and size here as it will be cut down into small pieces. The main use is to put small snacks on top, so any imperfections can easily be hidden. Just brush bread slices with olive oil, bake for about 10 minutes and top with meat and vegetables.
Get the recipe – 8 Delicious Crostini
Fondue is a dish containing melted cheese, white wine and garlic and is popular in France and Switzerland. You dip the bread pieces into the cheese sauce with a skewer so having robust bread is key so it doesn’t fall apart. You usually accompany the cheese with a bread basket that is filled with rough cuts of bread. It doesn’t need to be pretty so a failed loaf would work.
Get the recipe – Cheese Fondue
Herb Crusted Fish
Liven up some salmon fillets with a herb crusted topping from your failed bread. This is baked in the oven to transform basic fish into a tastier and more interesting meal. Start with some breadcrumbs from your failed bread and mix in some parsley and dill with a little olive oil. It’s then as simple as topping and roasting the salmon for 15 minutes until cooked. Served with some lemon wedges and potatoes.
Get the recipe – Dill And Herb Crusted Salmon
Failed bread can be used in a variety of sauces or salsas. As you are completely breaking down the bread into a sauce, it really doesn’t matter how it failed. It can be used to thicken many sauces in Spanish, Italian and Mexican cuisine. Salsa Verde is a good example where parsley, vinegar, capers and oil are combined and is great for serving with meat and fish.
Get the recipe – Italian Salsa Verde
Similar to sauces, you can use the bread to thicken soups. Gazpacho is a Spanish soup served chilled and full of flavor from raw blended vegetables. Combined with bread, tomato, cucumber, onions, garlic and then chilled for a few hours. It’s designed to be served as a refreshing, lightweight meal in the hot summer in southern Spain. You can even top this soup with your own croutons.
Get the recipe – Authentic Gazpacho
Stuffing, Meatballs And Meatloaf
Breadcrumbs are the base of any good stuffing, and can be built up with different flavor combinations. Use with turkey, chicken or rolled up in a pork shoulder. With stuffing it doesn’t matter what the bread looked like when it started because its mixed up thoroughly. Simply make some breadcrumbs and mix with seasonings and herbs such as sage and onion or sausage meat.
Other similar foods are meatballs or meatloaf which contain breadcrumbs to lighten the texture. Without them, the minced up meat can be too heavy and tough.
Get the recipe – Sausage & Herb Stuffing
How to Fix your Bread Next Time
Don’t Give Up – Improve
Don’t be disheartened if your bread failed! Everyone’s made bad loaves at some point. Baking is a science at it’s core, and a wrong decision can completely fail your bread. A good thing to do is note down what happened this time and with what recipe and timings. Tweak things for next time so you do something better, as everyone’s oven is slightly different.
Test Your Yeast
A key reason for bread not rising at all is the yeast might be dead. Yeast is alive and dehydrated to slow its activity down. Check it is alive by mixing a teaspoon in a bowl of warm water and sugar. Leave it for 10 minutes and see if it bubbles – that means it is fermenting and usable. If it doesn’t do anything then buy some more yeast – and keep an eye on the use by date.
Let It Rise Long Enough
Bread can be dense if it’s not risen enough. Make sure to give it two rises, with a step in the middle to fold the dough in on itself a few times and shape into a loaf. Ensure the final rise, known as the proof, is long enough. Usually an hour to an hour and a half. This gives a nice airy loaf with a soft texture. I have an article on what happens if you don’t rise dough long enough which has some further help.
As you can see, there are so many ways to use up bread that has failed to become a good loaf. Croutons and breadcrumbs are the basis for endless recipes and are so simple and fun to make. They also taste much better than anything you can buy in the shops.
Give some of the recipes a try from this article. There are some classics from around the world – it turns out many cuisines need to use up bad bread!