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Recipes for leftover bread

Just some of the many delicious ways you can reduce food waste.

See also:

Love Food Hate Waste's leftover recipes

Chai spiced bread and butter pudding

Serves 4

This slight twist on the timeless classic is inspired by the ridiculously sweet Indian version of tea.

B&BP can be dressed up with chocolate, marmalade, jam, apples, nuts and who knows what or left plain. Pretty much every cook in the land (and many beyond) has a version in his or her repertoire, so if this one doesn’t do it for you, you won’t have far to look for an alternative.


320g stale Real Bread, sliced 1 or 2cm thick and cut into triangles
600ml milk (or a mixture of milk and cream)
50g caster sugar (or vanilla sugar)
40g butter** (or enough to spread on one side of each of the bread slices)
2 eggs
50g seedless raisins or sultanas
1 green cardamom pod
1 or 2 cloves
1 slice (about 3mm thick) of fresh ginger or ¼ teaspoon of ground
2cm piece of cinnamon quill or cassia bark
A vanilla pod (if not using vanilla sugar)
A twist or two of black pepper, very finely ground
Zest of half a lemon

*the Real Bread can be white or brown, brioche or bagels – basically, whatever sort of bread you have lying about. As they are already spiced, pannetone and Finnish pulla work very well.
** not margarine (sorry, vegans) or low-fat, supposedly butteresque, horrors of the yellow fats market

The weight of the bread is based on 8 thick (40g each) slices of an 800g tin loaf but as with all of the other measurements, this is approximate.  You can tweak the amounts of bread, butter, sugar, milk etc. depending on your taste and how much of each you have to hand.


Preheat the oven to 180?C (350?F or gas mk 4)

Add the spices (except the pepper) to the milk and heat but do not boil. Cover and set aside to cool.

Grease an ovenproof dish. Butter the bread on one side and arrange half of the slices a layer in the dish. Scatter over the lemon zest and raisins or sultanas and layer the rest of the bread on top.  If you are using a smaller, deeper dish, you might get two fruit layers and three of bread.

Strain the spices out of the milk. If you have used a vanilla pod, give it a rinse and dry it out so that you can use it again.

Whisk the milk together with the eggs and sugar and pepper. Pour it over the bread and butter – the liquid should reach about half way up the top layer of bread.  Leave to soak for twenty minutes or so.

Put in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes until brown on top an just set in the middle – wobbly, not watery.

Serve hot with cream, custard or brandy butter.  Tastes great cold, too.

If you are counting calories or trying to eat less of anything in this recipe, just eat a smaller portion.

Bread sauce

Not the packet stuff you waste your time rehydrating at Christmas to go with dry, stringy turkey and then throw in the bin because it has the consistency (and taste) of wallpaper paste – this is the real deal.

Aromatic and with a discernible, yet silky, texture, this is a bread sauce that deserves to be let loose on any roast meat.

Now, this is leftover cookery, not a science lesson, so no need to get the ruler out to measure your bread chunks (you can even blitz them in a food blender, if you prefer) or lose sleep over the exact weight of the onion. If you don’t have any star anise or any of the other spices, leave them out; not all of them, mind or it will be blander than that packet sauce.  I’ve put the cream as optional, as there’s no point in running out to buy a pot of the stuff unless you know you’re going to use the rest of it.


600ml Milk
1 medium onion (something between 150g and 200g but don’t lose sleep over exact weight)
2 cloves
1 point of star anise
1 bay leaf
1 blade of mace
6 black peppercorns, cracked in half
120 – 150g white bread (crusts cut off – see sippets below for what to do with these), torn or cut into 1cm cubes
25ml single or double cream (optional)
20g butter
Salt to taste


Roughly chop the onion and put in a saucepan with the milk and spices.  Bring almost to the boil and then turn off the heat. Cover the pan and leave the spices to infuse until cool.  You can do this bit the day before and keep in the fridge, if you prefer.

Strain the milk. Pick out the spices and discard but hang on to the onion. Although its flavour will be milder, you can still use this for any other dish that needs chopped onion.

Again heat the milk until nearly boiling and then turn right down to a low simmer.  Stir in the bread crumbs and leave to soak up the milk. Just before serving, stir in the butter and cream (if using) and taste. If you think it needs a bit of salt, add a pinch at a time until it tastes right.

If you have any leftovers of this leftover dish, it’s good spread on toast. Mmm, carbs on carbs.

Pineapple spice

Serves 4-6

Based on a recipe I found scribbled by an unknown former owner in the back of my 1958 edition of The Constance Spry Cookery Book, this is a dish from the days when pineapple was often only available in tins and cinnamon as a powder. 

I’ll leave you to mull over the various arguments (environmental and otherwise) for and against using fresh pineapple instead.  It also tastes pretty good with any locally grown, sweetish apples that will stay firm when cooked but you’ll need to change the name of the dish.


240-250g pineapple rings or chunks (400g can undrained weight)
200g white breadcrumbs, crusts left on (or mix of bread and plain sponge cake crumbs)
1tsp powdered cinnamon
60g Demerara sugar
1 orange
40-50g  melted butter

This is a very forgiving dish that allows you to jig the amounts of any of the ingredients up or down a bit.


Preheat the oven to 190?C (375?F or gas mk 5)

Drain the pineapple, reserving juice. If using rings, cut into small chunks. Zest and then juice the orange.

Mix together breadcrumbs, cinnamon, sugar, orange zest, the pineapple and orange juice and melted butter. Stir until even mixed through. The crumbs should be quite wet (the juice will get soaked up or evaporated during baking) but not to the point that there’s a lot of liquid at the bottom of the bowl.  If it’s too dry, add some extra orange, apple or pineapple juice.

Grease an ovenproof dish and layer the breadcrumbs with the pineapple chunks, starting and finishing with a layer of breadcrumbs.

Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown on top and serve hot or cold with cream, custard or - if you fancy keeping with the post-war theme – evaporated milk.

Bread soup

Serves 2

Now, this is a really quick and cheap soup.  Chicken stock is a fine way of getting every last bit of value out of the bird and respecting the fact that it died for your dinner.  If you don’t have any stock kicking about in the fridge or freezer, a stock cube will do, though it’s not as nutritious.


600ml homemade chicken/vegetable stock (or water and a stock cube) or mixture of stock and milk
125g white breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic
½ - 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste


Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan, crush the garlic to a fine pulp, add to the liquid and simmer for five minutes or so.  Stir in the breadcrumbs, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and simmer for four minutes.  If using eggs, break carefully into the soup just after adding the crumbs, cover the pan and let them poach for the four minutes. 

Pour or ladle into two bowls (take care not to break the eggs, if using) and drizzle a swirl olive oil into each bowl.

If this all sounds a bit fancy or extravagant for you, a late 19th century edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management gives a version using just 1lb of bread crusts, 1oz butter, 1qt stock and salt.


Not really a recipe but the very simplest way of turning bread that’s a day or three past its prime into a tasty snack in its own right or accompaniment to a feast. 

‘…our offering to world gastronomy,’ as self-confessed toast addict Nigel Slater would have it.

  • Take slices of Real Bread and expose the cut to radiant heat  (e.g. drop it in a toaster, pop it under a grill, place over an Aga hotplate in the toasting gizmo or impale on some sort of tasting fork or stick in front of a camp or other open fire) until golden brown on both sides.
  • Dunk into, drizzle or slather with whatever you choose.
  • Eat and enjoy.