If you’re anything like me, you’ll be guilty of at least one of two unforgivable things: either spending exorbitant amounts of money on artisan-manufactured loaves of bread or flinching with guilt (but not hesitating) once the time comes to dispose of the uneaten leftovers, once time – usually the space of a weekend – has atrophied them into hardened husks of their former selves.
Here’s hoping you’re only guilty of the former, and not the latter.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, one third of all food produced globally is either lost or wasted – a sobering fact that amounts to around 1.3 billion tonnes of food and a cost to the global economy that’s estimated as being close to $940 billion each year. That staggering realisation formed part of the reason that, in 2015, the top Italian chef Massimo Bottura assembled a crack team of 60 of the best chefs in the world, including René Redzepi, Alain Ducasse, Alex Atala, Daniel Humm, Ana Roš, Gastón Acurio, and Mario Batali, to contribute to his then-new project, the Refettorio Ambrosiano – a community soup kitchen that coincided with the Milan Expo. Bottura charged leading Italian designers and artists with converting an abandoned theatre (pictured top) into an welcoming dining hall where guests could feed not only their body but their soul on three-course meals prepared by the world’s best chefs using only supermarket surplus ingredients, like bread.
Last week, Bottura – whose restaurant Osteria Francescana has previously been ranked first in the World’s 50 Best and is currently sitting pretty in second place – released his second cookbook, Bread is Gold: Extraordinary Meals with Ordinary Ingredients (available now through PHAIDON, $55). The hardcover book highlights contributions made by each chef, accompanied with extensive texts written by Bottura and stunning reportage photographs capturing the Refettorio in 2015. Recipes include popcorn pesto as created by Noma’s head chef Redzepi; Teriyaki burgers by Japanese chef Yoshihiro Narisawa of his eponymous restaurant, Narisawa; and Rice Pudding by Ferran & Albert Adrià, once of elBulli. All of the book sales royalties generated from Bread is Gold will also be donated to Food for Soul, a non-profit organisation that seeks to fight food waste in support of social inclusion that was founded by Bottura in 2016, to create and sustain community kitchens across the world.
Then there is the title dish, Bread is Gold: Bottura’s dessert ode to his grandmother made of bread crumbs, warm milk and sugar, the recipe for which you can below. Waste not, want not.
BREAD IS GOLD
Recipe by Massimo Bottura
3 ½ oz (100 g) stale bread, sliced 1⁄8-inch (3 mm) thick and cut into six 4-inch (10 cm) rounds (see Note below)
0.35 oz (10 g) edible gold powder
BREAD AND SUGAR CREAM
3 ½ oz (100 g) stale bread (see Note)
½ cup (100 g) packed light brown sugar
3 1/3 cups (800 ml) milk
3 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM
2⁄3 cup (150 ml) heavy (whipping) cream
¾ cup (150 g) packed light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2⁄3 cup (150 ml) milk
3 ½ oz (100 g) bread, cut into small pieces (see Note)
4 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
MAKE THE BREAD CRISPS
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas Mark 4). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the bread on the baking sheet ¾ inch (2 cm) apart.
Bake until crispy and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Let cool. Sprinkle with the gold powder.
MAKE THE BREAD AND SUGAR CREAM
In a medium pan, heat the bread and brown sugar over medium heat and cook until caramelized, about 3 minutes.
Add half the milk and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Add the remaining milk and the cream, bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Transfer to a blender and blend on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve two times. Cover and refrigerate. Once cold, whisk until stiff peaks form and transfer to a pastry (piping) bag.
MAKE THE SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM
In a small pot, bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. In a medium pan, melt the brown sugar over medium heat until completely melted, about 3 minutes. Add the warmed cream and salt, remove from the heat, and whisk. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pan. Add the milk and generous ¾ cup (200 ml) water. Return to the heat and bring to 104°F (40°C) over medium heat, then simmer for 2 minutes until it reaches 176°F (80°C). Remove from the heat and let cool. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Transfer to an ice-cream machine and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, freeze the mixture until hard enough to scoop.)
MAKE THE CARAMEL CROUTONS
In a medium pan, heat the bread and brown sugar over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar caramelizes and coats the bread, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let cool. Store in an airtight container.
Place a scoop of the salted caramel ice cream on each plate and top with 5 caramel croutons, 1 tablespoon bread and sugar cream, 5 more caramel croutons, and 1 more tablespoon bread and sugar cream. Garnish with 1 bread crisp.
Note: Save the leftover bread for the bread and sugar cream and caramel croutons. This recipe has been extracted from Bread is Gold: Extraordinary Meals with Ordinary Ingredients by Massimo Bottura, available now.
Tile and cover image: Courtesy of PHAIDON