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Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Stale News

November 18, 1998|RUSS PARSONS

Eleven months of the year, stale bread is pretty much a bad thing--the occasional bread pudding, croutons and French toast excepted. But when the holidays approach, cooks begin to hoard it like gold. You can even pay exorbitant prices for somebody else's stale bread, just because it's been cut up into cubes for you.

Why? The simple answer, of course, is stuffing. But why stale bread in stuffing?

The process of cooking bread is, at bottom, one of drying. You begin with a wet mass of risen dough and use heat to drive out most of the moisture, leaving the airy gluten framework behind.

Letting bread go stale takes that one step further, drying out the gluten strands to the point that they are hard (so they won't mush together when they're mixed with the wet ingredients) and absorbent (so they'll soak up the flavored liquids and fats they're combined with).

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