I know, I know…today is Monday! So why are we publishing our latest Sunday Cooking Lesson today?
Well – on Saturday evening, Jack and I had just returned from a fun-filled (and food-filled) long weekend in Atlantic City (we’ll share more about our trip later this week) only to discover that A Family Feast was down! Our web host experienced a major outage and many sites, including ours, were up and down for several hours. We were nervous about publishing a post while everything seemed so unstable, so – not knowing if our site would be up or down in the morning – we rescheduled this Sunday Cooking Lesson for today and went to bed!
So, regardless of whether today is Sunday or Monday – we’re showing you how to make delicious, hearty Homemade Croutons! It’s so easy to make homemade croutons – we make them ourselves all the time – but any time we serve them to guests, they always ask us, “How DO you make these?!?”
Our family and guests will tell you that homemade croutons can totally transform an ordinary salad into something really special! Our go-to recipe is below – using a mix of hearty Pumpernickle and Rye breads and our favorite seasonings – but you can follow this same process using your own favorite type of bread and preferred seasonings.
Start by cutting your bread into large cubes. You do this by first cutting your bread into thick slices. Stack the slices you just cut, then turn the bread and slice in the other direction – you will end up with strips of bread.
Then stack the strips of bread, turn it again and cut the strips so you end up with cubes of bread. At this point – place all of the cubes on large sheet pans and let the bread cubes dry for 24 hours uncovered. (In case you’re worried that your bread cubes will get stale – that is exactly what you want to happen in this step! Trust us, and keep reading…)
After your bread cubes have dried overnight, place the cubes in a very large bowl. Pour melted butter over the bread, tossing and turning as you pour the butter into the bowl so that the butter evenly coats the cubes of bread. (And – because the bread is now slightly stale, it will readily absorb the butter – giving the finished croutons great flavor and texture.) Next sprinkle a spice mixture evenly over the buttered bread cubes and toss again to coat. Pour the bread cubes onto sheet pans in an even, single layer (use two pans if necessary to get that single layer – you want the cubes to toast evenly).
Bake the seasoned and buttered bread cubes in the oven (turning them halfway through the baking process so they toast evenly) – and your crispy, crunchy, wonderfully seasoned homemade croutons are done! Allow to cool before serving on your favorite salad.
- 1 unsliced loaf Pumpernickel bread, or other dense bread
- 1 unsliced loaf seeded rye bread, or other dense bread
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dry parsley flakes
- Cut large slices from each loaf, (1-2 inches wide). Turn and slice the other way so you have strips. Then turn again and cut into cubes.
- Lay the cubes out on two sheet pans (you want them in a single layer) and dry for 24 hours uncovered.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- After the bread cubes have dried, place cubes into a large bowl.
- Melt butter and pour over bread, tossing and turning the cubes as you pour so they are evenly coated.
- In a small bowl, mix all spices and sprinkle evenly over bread cubes as you toss and turn them. (Depending how spicy you like your croutons, you may or may not use all of the spice mix.)
- Pour bread cubes back onto the same two sheet pans (again, you want a single layer) and bake on two oven racks for ten minutes. Remove from oven, flip each crouton and return the baking sheets to oven making sure the two pans swap oven racks so one pan does not cook more than the other and bake for an additional ten minutes.
- Remove the croutons from the oven and cool. Then use on any salad.
- Store leftover croutons in a zipper seal bag in the refrigerator or freezer. Bring to room temperature before serving.
For more of our Sunday Cooking Lesson series, please click here!