5 Great Unexpected Uses For Bread

Go beyond the sandwich with clever ways to use bread

Bread, glorious bread. It holds your spreads and sops your sauces. It turns random ingredients into a sandwich and thus a meal. And there's so much more that bread is capable of. Like this.

Skim fat: Making soup or stew and want to eat it today? There's no need to refrigerate it overnight in order to solidify the fat to then strain off. Simply place a couple pieces of bread that have been lightly toasted on top of the soup, so that they absorb most of the fat.

Catch grease: A couple of stale slices placed at the bottom of your drip pan will make cleanup a whole lot easier. Toss the grease-soaked slices or feed 'em to your dog, if they're into that kind of thing.

Test for hot spots: Got a new-to-you oven? Before you bake that delicate soufflé, determine if your oven's cooking evenly. Put a rack in the middle, preheat to 350° and place several pieces of bread across the rack in a rectangular shape. Let toast. Darker spots indicate the areas where your oven's hot, so you can rotate future baked goods accordingly. Oh, and get an oven thermometer.

Clean your grinder: Sometimes, you want to grind up something that isn't coffee, like whole spices or grains. Remove the lingering java grounds—and smell—in your coffee grinder by whizzing a few chunks of bread in it. Any remaining particles and oils will stick to the bread. Rinse, wipe, ready to go.

Soften brown sugar: Say your once soft brown sugar has turned into a brick. Make it pliant once more by adding a piece of bread to the bag and letting it sit overnight. (Use a whole piece or just a corner, depending on how much sugar you have.) Brown sugar, which has a high moisture content, becomes hard when its inherent moisture evaporates. A piece of bread reintroduces just enough humidity to make the sugar supple again. Store it in an airtight container once it's soft.