This all started because our new prospective roofer gave us a free loaf of bread. I scratched my head too, but apparently one of his clients works at a bakery, but the roofer doesn't eat white bread, so would we like it? Uh, sure. We don't eat white bread, either, but there we were suddenly with a loaf of it. What to do? Hey, we've got all these salad greens to eat—let's make croutons! It's really easy, and I didn't even do it quite right.
Here's what you do:
Here's what you do:
1. Procure a loaf of yeast bread. Any kind, practically—white, wheat, baguette, rolls, whatever.
2. Cut it into cubes, whatever size you prefer your croutons.
3. If it's not already stale and crusty, spread the cubes on a baking sheet and put them in a 300° oven for a few minutes, until they're dried out. The drier they are, the crunchier your croutons will be. I left mine with a bit of spring in them—I like just a bit of give in my croutons.
4. Lightly and evenly coat a frying pan or skillet with oil or butter. I suspect the best way to do this would be to use a big stove-top skillet and an olive oil mister, but I managed just fine with a wok and bottle. Turn the heat to medium-high.
5. Once the oil is heated (but not spitting) spread the bread cubes on it. Evenly sprinkle on your preferred seasonings—salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, anything really. Once the bottom sides are browned, flip the croutons over with a spatula, brown some more, and generally shuffle them around to distribute the seasoning and prevent burning. (You can also add the seasoning later, by putting the cooked croutons in a bag or Tupperware with the seasonings and shaking them—it's not rocket science.) The bread will brown quickly and likes to smoke, so do keep an eye on your pan or skillet.
6. Remove from the heat and let them cool completely, so you don't trap any excess moisture in the bag or container you store them in, which would wreck the crunch-factor.
And that's it! You may be surprised how much better homemade croutons are than store-bought ones. Definitely worth the minimal effort.