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Bread Croutons are made by cubing any variety of bread, and then toasting, browning or drying them in an oven. Sometimes, croutons may also be deep-fried. Usually, white bread, brown bread, whole wheat bread, French baguette, focaccia bread, garlic bread etc., serve well to make croutons.
When making croutons, the slices of bread are first brushed with a little oil or a flavoured butter like garlic butter or herb butter. They are then cut into even-sized cubes and baked in a pre-heated oven till they dry up completely. Bread croutons can be plain or flavoured. Minced onions, shallots, garlic, thyme, rosemary, mixed herbs, cayenne pepper etc. are common flavourings used in bread croutons.
Bread croutons are available in the market, but they can also be made easily at home. In fact, they are a great way to extend the shelf life of leftover breads.
To make bread croutons at home, follow this easy recipe:
• Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Combine herbs with olive oil and brush on both sides of each bread slice.
• Stack all the slices together and cut into cubes of your choice.
• Spread the cubes on a baking tray and bake till dry and crisp. This may take around 30-45 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the cubes.
• Cool completely and store in airtight containers. Try and use within a week.
How to select
• If purchasing from the market, choose a good brand.
• Check the manufacturing date, expiry date and packaging.
• If making bread croutons at home, you can use bread that is a day old. It is not necessary that bread should be fresh to make croutons.
• Bread croutons are used mainly as a garnish for soups like Cream of Tomato Soup. Ensure that you add the croutons to the soup just before serving, otherwise they will get soggy.
• You can use flavoured bread croutons to enhance the flavour of the soup further.
• Crisp croutons can also be used to garnish biryani.
• Bread croutons are also used in salads such as the Caesar salad. To make Caesar salad, combine romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, etc., and add a few croutons just before serving.
• Bread croutons, if in excess, can also be ground into bread crumbs and used as a coating agent.
How to store
• Store bread croutons in airtight containers, in a dry place, as moisture can spoil the croutons.
• Use within a week.
The calories in bread croutons will differ according to the quality or variety of bread used to make them. So, try and use healthier bread such as whole wheat bread to make the croutons.