I’m not a fan of ready-made dry breadcrumbs, especially the very yellow or orange-tinged ones. Good breadcrumbs should be made from bread and not coloured in any way nor contain any additives. The problem with colouring, apart from the obvious that we should all try and eat food in as natural a state as possible, is that they go brown before the food is cooked through and give the impression the food is cooked and ready to serve. This is dangerous with most meats. Homemade lightly coloured breadcrumbs take longer to turn golden, which is a good thing.
They’re a doddle to make. Apart from making a good home for stale bread, they’ll last for months. Make a big batch at a time, then they’ll be there when you need them. If making breadcrumbs from scratch doesn’t appeal, try panko crumbs, a pale flaky wheat product that can be ground briefly in a blender or crushed with a rolling pin to make it finer for coating snitzels. Panko crumbs are nice and crunchy and turn a good golden colour when cooked.
1 Choose thickly sliced white bread (toast thickness), preferably 2 days old, or sourdough bread. Remove crusts and cut into squares.
2 Process bread until a soft crumb forms. The breadcrumbs can be used as they are in recipes calling for fresh breadcrumbs, or packed into small bags and frozen for later use.
3 To make dry breadcrumbs, put fresh breadcrumbs in a shallow oven tin and cook for about 30 minutes in an oven preheated to 150°C (300°F), or until they are starting to feel crisp and are clumping together – they should not colour during this time. Break apart with your fingers, and when they feel dryish and no longer steamy, transfer to a food processor. Process to a fine crumb, then return crumbs to the oven tray and continue drying in the oven (switch it off) until they are totally dry. Transfer to an airtight container once cool.
4 For a professional finish, pass dried crumbs through a coarse sieve to ensure an even and fine crumb.