Recycled bread... is that even a "thing?"
It may well be the case more recently that recycled bread appears to have been around for a while, although apparently no-one really speaks about it. It may even be the best kept secret in baking!
The reason why I say that, is because we recently did an experiment to look at new ways to recycle and become more sustainable as a university over the past week. We had heard about an article that British Baker ran on a bakery in London, where old bread is recycled into new bread. Now we had heard of using old bread up in products such as bread pudding, but in terms of adding it to the final dough, this was something new! So with this in mind and being curious, we decided to have a go and see what happened! Here are the results;
So how do you make recycled bread?
Well first off, you need some old bread. It is really important that you know where this bread came from and what's in it as well. Otherwise you might have an allergen issue. The recycled bread starts life by being sliced and then water is added to it to make into into a porridge type consistency.
Once you have the bread porridge, its a simple case of adding this to a new dough. In order for this to work you need to use a strong flour and the final water added to the dough will have to be reduced slightly, but we found through a number of trials this is only about 3%-5% on flour weight. The amount we use is 50% on flour weight, using a flour that is 14% protein. Add the porridge at the start of mixing, and then process as per normal;
So did it work?
So we found that the final bread came out excellent. We were worried at first that the bread would be low in volume, due to the extra weight it was carrying from the recycled bread, but didn't find any problems at all. We added some extra finishing touches including a recycling stencil and dusted it with spinach. The final bread had more flavour and the crumb was creamy in colour with specks throughout.
Is it going to change the world?
Honestly, probably not! Although this experiment worked very well and the bread was of an excellent quality, there are some potential problems with recycling bread.
However, taking into account all of the above, there are a number of other bakeries that have commented they have been doing this for years! (mainly in Europe (France and Germany) So it appears it may not be innovating to some, but to us this is a great way to recycle bread, taking into account the above points and making sure the food is safe.
So in terms of larger bakeries, probably going to be challenging, but for a smaller craft or artisan bakery, it might work well. It is a way of being more sustainable and recycling, whilst at the same time improving products. Every little helps to reduce waste and become more sustainable.
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