I received a loaf of Nature's Pride 100% Natural Hearty Wheat with Flax bread a few weeks ago thanks to the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program. This brand has come to be a favorite with mine, as it's one of the better natural breads available on store shelves. The texture is soft and spongy and the flavors are always delicious. You won't have to worry about the ingredient label with Nature's Pride, either.
I wasn't sure what I wanted to make with it. I could make a strata or a bread pudding, but I've already done that. Since I had some fish, I came up with the idea of turning the loaf of bread into panko breadcrumbs, which are my favorite.
How does panko breadcrumbs differ from normal breadcrumbs? Panko crumbs are typically made from the crumb part of the bread and not the crusts, which explains the white color you see that identifies panko. However, for my first try I used the entire slice. I simply tore the slices into pieces and ground it in the food processor. Next time, I'd grind them a little finer as I don't feel they adhered to the fish in an even coating and some of the pieces of breadcrumbs were too big.
After spreading the crumbs onto a baking sheet, I mixed in 2 1/2 teaspoons of lemon pepper seasoning for 6 slices of bread. Next step is to bake in the oven, turning occasionally. You are aiming to dry the breadcrumbs out rather than toasting them. A bit of the breadcrumbs I made ended up being toasted, but that's probably because I turned the heat up to speed the process.
It's easier to see here how I should have ground the bread a bit more finely. However, the flavor was really good. You get the nutty sweetness of whole wheat flour with the tart lemon pepper seasoning all toasted up together.
And there you have it, homemade panko breadcrumbs! Economically speaking, I'm not sure which is the cheaper option, buying panko already made or making it yourself, but if you have a loaf that's on the stale side this is always a good idea to have so as to save the bread.
Also, I feel the need to explain that the coating on my fish wasn't as thick as it needed to be, preventing the topping from adhering more evenly. Still, the crumbs were a bit too big.
Homemade Panko Breadcrumbs
The cooking time is determined by the freshness of your bread. If it's fresher, you'll need to bake it longer to dry it out. Older bread won't take as long. Don't let the breadcrumbs toast, as the aim is simply to dry it out.
6 slices Nature's Pride 100% Natural Hearty Wheat with Flax bread
2 1/2 teaspoons seasoning powder or herb blend of your choice
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Tear up six slices of Nature's Pride bread. Add half to a food processor and process until crumbs are coarse, but small. Pour out onto a rimmed baking sheet and repeat with the remaining bread chunks.
- Sprinkle the seasoning powder over the breadcrumbs, stirring to coat the crumbs evenly. Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir crumbs. If they're still moist, place in the oven and continue to cook for another 5 minutes
- Once breadcrumbs appear slightly firm, remove from oven. Transfer breadcrumbs to a cool container or bowl to cool. They'll harden completely when cooled to room temperature.