A Humane Turtle


Selective Sensibility

Second Hand Bread

Scheiterhaufen with additional layers of semolina pudding

Bread tends to get old fairly quickly. After one (or a couple of) days, it’s just not fun to eat it any more. And if you’ve bought new bread already, you don’t really want to eat the old left-overs, do you? But throwing away the old bread just because it’s a little hard isn’t an option, is it?

Fortunately, I grew up in a part of Austria that  has a long-standing tradition of using old bread in its cuisine. These recipes that use old bread aren’t just left-over meals though, they are some of my favorite foods!

The probably easiest recipe that includes old bread is milk soup. There’s quite some variations as to how people make it, but the basic idea is that you put semi-hard pieces of bread into warm, sweetened milk. Something like old-style cereals. I loved that as a kid.

Then there is ‘Pofesen’, a variation of French Toast, filled with jam. The layered variant of french toast is  ‘Scheiterhaufen’ (apple-bread casserole): you soak the bread in sweetened milk while you slice up some apples. Then you put alternating layers of bread and apples into a baking tin, and bake it until crispy. I experimented a little with the original Scheiterhaufen and added additional layers of semolina pudding (see picture above). Turned out to be great!

Of course there’s also a whole range of dishes involving bread cubes. They are used for fillings of all sorts. But they also make the basis of one my favorite dishes: ‘Semmelknödel’ (bread dumplings). They are amazingly good, yet incredibly easy to make and very versatile. For example, you can eat them in a soup, or as a side dish, often served with mushroom sauce and (fake) meat. And the coolest thing is: if you have Semmelknödel leftovers, you can slice those and fry them in a pan (with some onions), and you have a great third-hand dish. Unfortunately I never have bread dumpling leftovers..

And what’s more, there is a whole range of dishes that involve breadcrumbs. The crust of a Schnitzel has them. A traditional Austrian apple strudel has sweetened and roasted breadcrumbs (with lots of cinnamon!) in them, and Austrian fruit dumplings are rolled in the same kind of sweetened breadcrumbs. For what it’s worth: ‘Marillenknödel’ (apricot dumplings) are the unbeatable number one of sweet main dishes!

A little while ago, I tried out another old bread recipe: ‘Brotschmarren’ (‘Schmarren’ is something like a chopped pancake). I soaked sliced old bread in sweetened (soy) milk, and then fried it in a pan until it was sort of crispy. With all the whole grain bread I used, I wasn’t sure if that would be any good. It turned out OK. Not my favorite second hand bread dish, but not bad either :-)