Golden crunchy garlic infused sourdough croutons, a delicious addition to salads, soups or crushed for homemade breadcrumbs!
Artisan bread is my weakness, especially bread with a chewy center and firm crust. I especially like a particular sourdough rosemary loaf that the OC Baking Company makes and sells locally at the Old Towne Orange Farmers and Artisan Market every Saturday.
The only problem is the size of the bread is insanely HUGE! I have to carry it like a baby because it doesn’t fit in any of my grocery bags, haha. I like to use half of the loaf for dinner or sandwiches the same day, but I don’t want the delicious bread to go to waste, so my easy solution is to make garlic sourdough croutons.
Fresh garlic cloves are crushed then added to canola oil. The garlic’s pungent flavors and aromatics are gently infused with the canola oil. The garlic infused oil is used to coat the fresh sourdough bread pieces which then bakes to create these tasty garlic sourdough croutons.
Each kind of oil has a smoke point, and it varies between each type. This is important because the smoke point is the temperature at which the lipid begins to break down and smoke. When a fat begins to break down, the chemical structure is altered; triglycerides which make up a lipid structure breaks down into individual fatty acids and glycerol. When this happens, the fatty acids create undesirable flavors that can be incorporated into the food being cooked. You can also smell when your oil reaches it’s smoke point because the glycerol breaks down in a chemical called acrolein, which gives a harsh chemical smell. If you know the smoke point of the oil you’re using, you can monitor the temperature of the oil as you cook your dish to prevent lipid breakdown.
When the croutons are baking, the herbaceous rosemary in the dough fills my home instantly with the strong rosemary aroma, and it’s wonderful! These garlic sourdough croutons are a flavorful addition to salads. Over the weekend I added them to a blood orange and fennel salad recipe for an extra crunch. The croutons can even be crushed down to make homemade breadcrumbs!
How do you select the right oil for your cooking process?
If you are just sauteing then canola, grapeseed, olive oil and clarified butter are good selections. Whole butter can be used. However, there are milk solids in the butter which cause it to darken quickly and burn if heated to high temperatures, so keep a close eye on your stove top heat. For deep frying, which requires temperatures above 350°F, high smoke point oils like peanut, corn, safflower, sunflower and canola are some good choices.
- 1 loaf sourdough bread , 4 cups, ½ inch cubes or torn into 1-2 inch pieces
- 5 cloves garlic , skins removed and crushed
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 pinch salt , as needed
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut or tear the bread into small pieces no larger than 2-inch pieces. Place the bread in a medium sized bowl and reserve.
- Add the ½ cup of canola oil to a small sauté pan, then add crushed garlic cloves. Slowly heat the oil over low heat, gently infusing the garlic flavor and aroma. The garlic should turn a light golden brown, and flipped over when the first side turns color. Keep a close eye on the garlic, if they become burnt, the oil will need to be discarded. The oil should smell fragrant when done, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and add 1 tablespoon of butter, stirring until melted. You can leave the garlic in the oil until ready to use to allow for longer flavor infusion.
- Strain oil and discard the garlic (or use in another dish).
- Gradually add the garlic infused oil to the bread, stirring after each addition, until each piece is evenly coated.
- Line a sheet pan with foil. Spread the bread pieces in one single layer on the sheet pan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, checking and turning the croutons every 10 minutes (less time may be needed if using older, or more dry bread). The croutons will be golden brown and crunchy when done.
- Remove croutons from oven, and season with salt. Cool croutons completely.
- Store croutons in an airtight container for longer shelf life.