What we do with leftover sourdough

Sourdough is one of life’s simplest pleasures. You really can’t beat fresh bread lathered in salty butter. But if you aren’t quick enough it can catch you off guard and be stale before you know it.

I admire anyone who has learnt to master the art of sourdough. Mum came home with a sourdough starter from Ciabatta bakery in Rotorua back when I was in high school. I fed it lovingly for a few days then realised the upkeep of the starter and crafting of a loaf required a bit more practice and effort than I was up for, so I aborted mission to become a home baking phenomenon.

Sam, Nourish’s expert from Mount Sourdough, cringes at the idea of stale sourdough and encourages his customers to preempt this issue by slicing and freezing a day or two after purchase. He also shared a hot tip with me – revitalise/refresh a stale loaf by running it under water or quickly dunking it underwater, then wrap in aluminium foil and pop it in the oven for 10–15 mins at 180°C. That will be a saving grace for those of us who forget to tend to their sourdough before it’s a stale rock (guilty as charged).

Panzanella salad was amongst Sam’s recommendations if you did find yourself with stale bread on hand. Ripe tomatoes, basil and a tangy dressing, all tossed with torn bits of dried sourdough. It’s a quick fix and moreish. You’ll often find Yottam Ottolenghi’s fattoush salad, using leftover sourdough, on Paul and Jane from Peplers table. Who knew stale bread in salad would be so popular!

I’d love to be in the staff room at Magills when they have leftover sourdough. Taria tells me that she would make an open sandwich with their juicy pulled lamb, a layer of lemony Greek yoghurt, some harissa spice and fresh herbs.

If gluten intolerant Emma Gallloway could eat sourdough, she would tear bite sized pieces, stir them through olive oil, mustards, herbs, salt and pepper and roast them in a low oven until crisp. These tasty little croutons would find their home in soups and salads – because everything deserves a little crunch to it.

In case her guests got “ensconced in a burden of loaves”, Fiona Hugues sends her sourdough class attendees home with her recipes for stale bread. You’ll have to attend one of these classes to get the full run down, but Fiona loves panzanella salad, pangrattato and Antonio’s walnut pesto. Sourdough ice cream is also in her repertoire and apparently, it’s a damn good one.

When asking around, pangrattato was one of the most common uses for leftover sourdough. Pangrattato is Italian for breadcrumbs, often cooked in olive oil, flavoured with herbs, citrus, chilli, garlic – you name it. Use as a topping for pasta, soups, salads, grilled fish or vegetable dishes for added flavour and crunch.

Amber Bremner is a super Mum, making a few loaves of sourdough a week. Her super seeded loaf gets toasted with a lick of marmite or hummus for breakfast; and for lunch, her rustic white loaf is dunked into soup or olive oil and dukkuh.

Vicki Ravlich-Horan blitzes sourdough up with off cuts of cheese and uses this as a topping for mac and cheese or casserole. If you head back to the winter edition of Nourish, you will find my recipe for crunchy stuffed mushrooms using this little trick.

Brigid Sullivan from La Cave uses leftover sourdough in bread-and-butter pudding and French toast. Both options can be used sweet or savoury, and her favourite is bacon, onion and gruyere bread and butter pudding.

Speaking of desserts, the Queen’s Jubilee this year had Kathy Paterson making Queen of Puddings. Sourdough breadcrumbs are the base, mixed with warm milk, a knob of butter and egg yolks then cooked in a water bath until just set. Out it comes so you can spread over a thin layer of jam, then the egg whites are used to make a stiff meringue for the top, which goes back in the oven until the meringue is golden.

Whether you’re a home baking goddess or someone who supports your local baker, keep these tips up your sleeve for when you’re caught with leftover sourdough.

Quick tips for leftover sourdough:
-Pangrattato for crunch on pasta, vegetable dishes, meats
-Blitz with cheese to top oven baked meals
-Panzanella salad
-Queen of Puddings
-Bulk out walnut and basil pesto
-Infuse ice cream
-Croutons for soups and salads
-Bread and butter pudding
-French toast

Words Harriet Boucher, Image Ashlee DeCaires

About the Author

Vicki Ravlich-Horan

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