We humans love bread, don’t we? What would we do without our daily bread? For many of us, it is the basis for every meal particularly here in The Netherlands. But elsewhere too: toast soldiers with golden eggs for breakfast, bagels with salmon and cream cheese for lunch, soup and garlic bread for dinner. Bread is so human really.
Historically, we humans have been making bread for 3,000 years, beginning with simple cooked versions of roasted grain-pastes mixed with water. The first tough old loaves were probably the result of an accident and no doubt shattered quite a few teeth, as we experimented with different grains and starches. Today’s legacy of those early breads are the Lavashs, the Mexican Tortillas, Indian naans, chapatis, rotis, Scottish oatcakes, pitas, Johnnycakes etc. And we just can’t get enough of it! And now we have so much of it in the West that we are happily throwing it away. So much so, that we in the flatlands throw away one of every five slices we buy.
Now, I find that absolutely shocking. As the Dutch are known to be frugal so this is bad news indeed because it means that the other western countries are throwing away even more. So, I maintain that if some of the most frugal folks on the globe are happily chucking slightly stale bread to the seagulls or straight in to their rubbish bags, then either the goods are too cheap or the goods are bad.
So can I humbly suggest we buy good, honest organic bread products from real bakers who know what they are doing.
Buy the Best, and Waste Less
Now, I have been sampling some pretty fine bread products in The Hague. And it’s good news all round, there are so fine breads out there – breads from the Gaia natuur winkel in Statenkwarter – the Kamut and spelt breads are lovely as is the Allinson, dense full of flavour with the right amounts of salt and an excellent crust and crumb. Lekker Brood spelt with sunflower seeds is my ulimate favourite treat in The Hague but sometimes their loaves sport a few air holes which makes you think that some of your hard-earned money just went up in smoke. Michel’s four grain round bread is delish but I found the organic spelt load just too crusty for my gnashers – those with false teeth would have no hope here, yet their baguettes I think rank with the best in the city. And so far my Chelsea buns are the best I have found as I am the only one making them. Please feel free to make them for me and call me up – I’ll be straight round with a huge smile. Lastly Kruiden Tuin in the Archipel has some wonderful rye breads. The afore mentioned breads are mainly to be found in artisan bakeries and organic supermarkets, thus are not cheap.
When you pay up to euros 3. 50 for a load it is rather doubtful that you will waste it. Just in case you were thinking of throwing even a crumb away, please read below to see what you can do with your daily stale bread….
Crumb it in your blender, adding in fresh herbs, garlic and maybe parmesan. Freeze it in some plastic containers and use for toppings of casseroles and in filo pastry pies or in burgers
Crostini it on a grill pan with some olive oil. Brush with garlic oil, fresh crushed tomatoes, pepper and salt
Bake it in bite sized pieces with olive oil for 10 minutes to make croutons. Use with soups.
Make a bread and butter pudding.
Make toast baskets. Cut rounds of bread, force into greased muffin tins. Mix eggs, cheese, grated onion and herbs, season with pepper and salt. Add parma ham or chopped bacon or a half a cherry tomato. Bake at 175 for 10 minutes or until set!
Make French toast. Mix real vanilla seeds with half a cup of milk, zest of orange and an egg. Soak stale bread in mixture and fry in coconut oil or rice bran until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup, fresh banana, and sliced fresh fruit.
Lastly a request from a friend
Chocolate Prune cake
I made this for a giggly bunch of 14 year old girls who probably haven’t eaten a prune knowingly ever – it was yummy!
1 and a quarter cups of dried prunes without the stone
1 and a quarter cups boiling water
1 tsp Baking Soda
60 grams of butter chopped
three quarters of a cup of firmly packed dark sugar or palm/date/maple sugar
1 cup wholemeal self raising flour or add 1 tsp of baking powder to plain wholemeal flour
2 large eggs or 3 small eggs
half a cup at least of dark chocolate chips
Heat oven to 160 fan and grease/line your tin. We used a heart shaped tin of 20 cms.
Put the prunes, soda and hot water into the food processor. Process until liquid and stand for 5 minutes.
Add in butter sugar and process
Add in flour and any other ingredients. Finally add in chocolate and mix once more. Pour into pan and bake for approx 35 – 45 minutes checking to see if it is done in the middle.
Stand to cool and remove. We iced with melted chocolate. It was gone in a jiffy…… oh and Jack decorated it with great concentration to excellent effect.
This recipe is based on one from The Australian Women’s Weekly Food for fit and healthy kids cookbook – it’s a goodie, I recommend.
Now, must fly, I am off for a trip to my homeland, the land of the long white cloud. See you in a month!