Our daily bread
Granny Trude bakes her own bread – and she can give you some tips on how to make bread last longer and all the cool things you can do with leftover crusts.
I’ve taken a break for now from the phone and internet fasting I was telling you about recently – after all I need to keep informed about the coronavirus, and I want to know how we’re supposed to behave with regard to this highly infectious disease! As I’m in the high-risk group at my age I’ve immediately put myself in voluntary quarantine, just like I did when there was a severe flu outbreak a few years ago. That’s the only way to do it now, my family told me. So I’m making myself comfortable at home, eating some of my home-made preserves or getting my neighbour, Farmer Georg, to bring me fresh produce.
Experimenting with ingredientsAnd of course as ever I’m baking my own bread. I’m sure lots of people have rediscovered this for themselves in these times of the coronavirus. You see, my pal Inge told me that as well as toilet paper, the supermarkets have also sold out of fresh and dried yeast as well as flour. It’s a good job I always keep a good supply of dried yeast. It’s not that hard to bake your own bread! Give it a try, ideally with a simple bread made from yeast dough, seasoned to your taste with your favourite herbs and spices.
You can find the recipe for my favourite quick-bake loaf here
Tastes too goodThere’s simply nothing better than a freshly baked loaf! When I was a child, we were always told that fresh bread was “unhealthy”. Later, my mother explained why: because we were trying to save money. You see, people eat more when the bread’s fresh, as it simply tastes better. So our bread used to be stored on top of the cupboard for a day and no one was allowed to have any, we deliberately let it go stale. In those days, there was only one type of bread at the bakery. Things are different nowadays. Germany boasts around 3200 registered bread varieties – a diversity that’s truly impressive.
On the other hand, the range available just seems too great, and bread too cheap, when you look at how much bread we throw away. In Germany there are around five hundred thousand tonnes of bread wasted every year! That’s equivalent to the total amount of bread eaten by the people of Paris, Barcelona and Augsburg over the whole year!
It’s all about storageBut it doesn’t have to be like that. The thing is, if you store it properly, bread doesn’t dry out so quickly. Whatever you do, make sure you take the bread out of the paper bag from the bakery, because it absorbs the moisture. I find the best solution is to keep it in a clay pot that regulates the humidity naturally.
Beeswax cloths are a cheaper option, and my granddaughter Janina swears by them. Of course she has a special one for storing bread – size XXL. She makes them herself, but you can also buy them in large sizes.
Into the pot with it …If the loaf does dry out too much, you certainly can freshen it up before you think of recycling it. You see it’s only moisture – water – that’s missing from bread when it dries out. You need a saucepan with a lid, some water and a bowl. Put some water in the saucepan, put a little bowl inside, put the bread on that, close the lid and slowly bring the water to the boil. If you leave the loaf in the steam for about 10 to 15 minutes – with the ring on a low heat! – it’ll be almost like a fresh one again afterwards.
… or the toaster …It’s so obvious but I still keep forgetting this: the fastest way to rejuvenate a dry slice of bread is to pop it in the toaster! Of course it doesn’t work anymore if the bread’s completely stale.
… or the mixer …In my kitchen, hard bread goes into the mixer – to make breadcrumbs. Or I make croutons out of them, which I shallow-fry in oil and sprinkle with herbs.
… or the ovenIf I still have stale bread despite all that, there’s always Ofenschlupfer – bread pudding – especially when my grandchildren and great-grandchildren come to visit. Admittedly white bread is more suitable for this, it’s not so good with wholegrain bread. It’s a typical Swabian recipe, but it’s also known elsewhere as Scheiterhaufen: I add apples, raisins, almonds and a mixture of egg and cream to stale bread soaked in sweetened milk. Serve it with vanilla custard – and suddenly I’m the “best Grandma” again!
I could go on for ever with this list. What do you do with stale bread? I’m looking forward to your tips!
Stay healthy in these unsettling times!