I learned this technique for garlic croutons from Jacques Pepin. It’s a lot more efficient than browning croutons in a skillet and uses less oil too. Makes 4 cups, enough for about 6-9 bowls of Caesar or other salad.
A loaf or two of day old levain-style bread* (4 c when cut into croutons)
1/2 c good olive oil
half a dozen garlic cloves (1/4 c when chopped)
Parmesan cheese, grated**
Method: The night before prep, chop the garlic very fine and macerate in the olive oil in a large bowl. (If you’re short on time, heat the oil to 200 degrees F or so and steep the garlic for a couple of hours; make sure the oil doesn’t get so hot it cooks the garlic.) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Slice the bread then cut it into cubes no larger than 3/4 inch square. Dump the cubes into the oil and mix with your hands until all cubes are evenly coated; be gentle so the cubes don’t break into crumbs. Transfer cubes to a half-sheet pan and spread out in a single layer. Bake 40 minutes or so, until the croutons are well toasted and dry but not so hard they break your teeth.
- My Tartine-style Kettle Bread is a good choice as is most any sturdy loaf made with white flour. It’s ok to throw in a few rye or whole wheat squares as well.
** Optional; taste before adding salt.