Making day-old bread sexy: crunchy bread chips
I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a bread crisis. Anyone who bakes their own crusty bread will know what I mean. Crusty breads last for about 12 hours (and they are amaaazing during those 12 hours), then turn into a dry, hard lump. Ever since I stopped buying bread, this has been a bit of an issue with me. Even sandwich breads are a bit…meh…after two days, but I can toast it up and gobble it down easily enough. The taste and texture of fresh crusty bread is worth it, but how on earth can I make unexpected leftovers something delicious, that I actually look forward to eating? Especially the grainy breads, which are too strong for a panzanella, and too hard even for french toast or bread pudding?
The answer came in the form of a gravlax taster at Holy Smoke (which I highly recommend, just btw), which was served with thin crispy toasts, basically bread chips. They were so yummy I figured I’d try to recreate them at home. My loaf, being grainy and containing no added fat, would turn out much crunchier, especially since I brushed the oil on rather than soaking the bread in oil. They are excellent, super crunchy crackers. I liked them best dunked in soup though (or stew), as the hard crunch mellowed a bit yet also provided something with bite (important for anything liquidy). You can also vary the flavourings – I did a crushed garlic/half butter/half oil sort of thing, with a little added salt and pepper. I used up all the toasts before I could get onto my spiced butter, but that’s an option too (this is where you can use curry powder). Rosemary and thyme would be lovely too.
You could also make these with fresh bread, but it’s actually much easier to cut even slices when the bread is quite dry and hard. You will need a very sharp chef’s knife for this – don’t bother with a bread knife, you’ll end up in tears before you get your first slice! Softer loaves that have dried up a bit will also work, these will be a bit crispier rather than providing an intense crunch.
Slice some day-old crusty bread as thin as you can (around 3mm) with a sharp chef’s knife. Preheat oven to 180C.
Brush both sides of each slice with oil, or a butter/oil mixture. You can flavour the oil/butter with some salt, a few cloves of crushed garlic, herbs, spices, whatever takes your fancy. If you’re using white bread you could make sweet variations too. Just wash your pastry brush after each different flavour batch!
Place slices in a single layer on a baking tray or roasting tray (largest you can). You can put 2 trays in the oven at a time. Bake for about 10 minutes until the inner edges start going golden brown. Cool completely on a rack, and store in an airtight container.
If the next day they are not as crunchy, reheat them in the oven for five minutes to crispen them up again.