Manolo says, in the autumn, the middle aged man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of toast.
Gone now is the summer of our grapefruit halves, sprinkled with sugar, replaced by toast
All hail toast!
The miraculous transformation of that holiest of foods, bread, into the perfect synthesis of homey tastes, the essential conveyance of butter, or jams, or honey, or if one is ambitious, perhaps the scrap of soft boiled egg.
Toast! The English vice!
“Village life makes stale bread so common that toasting has become a national habit restricted to the British Isles and those countries which have been colonized by Britain.” – H. D. Renner, The Origin of Food Habits
Of the course, as we all know that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the toasting forks of Eton?
“It isn’t only fictional heroes to whom toast means home and comfort. It is related of the Duke of Wellington – I believe by Lord Ellesmere – that when he landed at Dover in 1814, after six years’ absence from England, the first order he gave at the Ship Inn was for an unlimited supply of buttered toast.” – Elizabeth David, English Bread and Yeast Cookery
Did the Manolo say toasting forks?
We modern have advanced into the present blessed with the electronic 4 slice toaster. Two for me, and two for thee, dear breakfast friend!
So, lift your cup to toast! Humble, yet divine. Simple, yet delicious.
Today’s food news comes to us from the cast of the late, great Harry Potter movies. Remember when Neville Longbottom was a potatoface? Remember when Luna was an unpopular nutbar? Well, you’ll be happy to know that their characters’ less attractive qualities have been put behind them and they still manage to be free spirits.
“Matt and I, are somewhat like partners in crime. Whenever we finish our scenes first, while the others are doing theirs, we kind of hide in opposite corners of the set and roll bagels to each other , and then no one realizes it because they’re so busy acting. Matt and I run away before anyone can catch us and then when they play the scene back they see a couple of bagels happily rolling across the set.”
Who doesn’t love toast? Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I like better than a newly-cut piece of beautifully made, fresh bread; it’s just that this exquisite pillowy pleasure lasts, at most, one day, and then there you are with a dried-out husk of rapidly hardening gluten, suitable perhaps for insulation or waylaying passers-by in lonely alleyways without leaving bruises (can you imagine the police report? “and then, *sniff*, and then she beat me about the head and neck with a large ciabatta“) SO much handier than a telephone book, and who even has those anymore? Or you could make spitballs with which to annoy pedestrians outside your window, if it’s not too far gone.
Where was I? Oh yes, talking about old bread. There are several food-based things you can do with superannuated bread, namely Stuffing/Dressing, Bread Pudding, French Toast, and Toast Toast. Croutons don’t count, because croutons are the devil’s own hemorrhoids, and we shall speak no more of them.
Today we are discussing toast in its purest form. It is not warm bread. Carbonization is necessary, if only to justify the word “toast” as a colour favored by hotel designers everywhere. Just look at this adorable Toast Modernist piece. Speaking of imperial levels of chic, let’s check out this fascinating video by Chloe, everyone’s favorite fashionista foodie philosotrix.
We are agreed: toast is charming! Toast is AMAZING!
I am a big fan of breakfasts, as is the rest of my family. I often skip it, but I love it. Lunch I can pretty much do without. Dinner is the best.
One of my favorites for breakfast is French Toast and a while back I cam across a recipe for for French Toast that I love. It is less eggy than many recipes which look like nothing more than a fried egg with bread in it. The recipe can be made with other breads but Challah (or Hallah), makes it an exceptional breakfast item, as good as virtually any you will find at a restaurant.
As an aside, Challah bread is a traditional Jewish bread generally eaten on the Sabbath and holidays. It is made generally with eggs, sugar, water and fine white flour. It is very rich and eggy which helps make it a perfect bread for this French Toast recipe which omits the egg whites. Another special ingredient makes this even better.
One loaf of good quality Challah
1-1/2 cups room temperature milk (2% or whole)
pinch of salt
a generous 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
0-2 tablespoons melted butter
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons brown sugar
And, in order of awesomeness, one of the following:
One Tablespoon Pear Eau De Vie (Our present favorite is Kuchan™ Poire Williams / Bartlett Pear Eau De Vie from Old World Spirits . For the LiquorLocusts review of this product, click here.)
One Tablespoon Bourbon, of a kindler, gentler nature like Woodford Reserve or Makers Mark.
One Tablespoon vanilla.
The Pear Eau De Vie should be tried. It is great. A subtle but rich flavoring. Bourbon versus vanilla is more a matter of personal taste, but everyone should try the pear.
For the bread, preheat the oven to 280 degrees. Slice bread about 1-1/4″ thick. Put on a baking sheet and put in oven for 15 minutes, flipping bread once, half way through. Take it out and let it cool. Alternately, take your bread out of the wrapper and let it get stale for a few days. The baking works better though, but if your bread is already stale, there you are.
Mix milk, salt, cinnamon, egg yolks brown sugar and your choice of the eau de vie, bourbon or vanilla in a medium bowl. Add melted butter by preference. It is not necessary but does add a bit of richness to the flavor. If you use non-fat milk I would definitely add 2 tablespoons, one for 2% and personally I would still add one with whole milk. If you are not using Challah, which is a rich, buttery bread, I would perhaps add 3 tablespoons melted butter and definitely two,.
Pour the liquid in a 9×13 baking dish. Put slices of challah in and let soak 15-20 seconds per side (both sides) and move to another sheet to sit. Let the bread sit for 2-3 minutes before putting on griddle.
Cook the french toast on a griddle or non-stick pan until golden brown.
Serve with a simple
2 cups fresh blueberrys or 1-3/4 cups frozen Wyman’s Wild blueberries.
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon corn starch
3-4 tablespoons of Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado) or plain sugar
cook in heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook approximately 10 minutes, until blueberries break down somewhat. Allow to cool to just warm.
Finally, a bit of ham, a half a grapefruit, and to kill your day,
Recipe is here at LiquorLocusts.
Anyway, I think you will find this an excellent and enjoyable recipe.
Every family has holiday traditions, usually going way back to their ethnic roots. I am of Irish, German and Finnish descent. So, we had several festive traditions. Getting drunk on whiskey and fighting with each other, getting drunk on beer and invading France and getting drunk on vodka and trying to kill Russians. Family gatherings were lively.
The Finns had one other tradition besides the Russian thing. Pulla. Pulla is a wonderful holiday bread made with Cardamom.
I remember as a child having pulla at family gatherings. The wonderful braided bread, golden and infused with the rich flavor of cardamom is one of the best memories of my childhood. Remembering my Aiti (It was not until I was an adult that I realized that Aiti was a title – mother – rather than her name. To this day I have to look to see what her first name was) on the rare occasions we made it to Minnesota or vice versa.
Anyway, in recent years I have missed the Pulla. So, last year I decided to make some pulla myself. I am not sure why I waited so long, it is not hard. (With one little warning).
First some stuff:
Cardamom is about the third most expensive spice in the world, after Saffron and vanilla. Cardamom spice is made from the seeds of the cardamom plant, a type of ginger native to India, Sri Lanka and parts of Southeast Asia. It has been used medicinally and as a flavoring for food for at least two thousand years Like saffron, cardamom is expensive because it is labor-intensive to produce. The seed pods are hand-picked before they are fully ripe to ensure the freshness of the seeds. There are about 12 seeds per seed pod.
India and Guatemala are the main producers of cardamom. It is a primary ingredient in curry, a popular additive to coffee in Arab countries and is widely used in Scandinavia to flavor baked goods.
It is the Scandinavia thing I come from even though the Finns are not Scandinavians. Still they retain some traditions from their years of oppression under the jackboots of the Swedes. In my family we had it at Christmas and at weddings and special occasions. In the later years of my life I was much surprised when a Greek family I knew gave me a traditional Greek Easter Bread that was cardamom flavored and tasted very much as I remembered pulla.
Anyway, pulla is very delicious and not that hard to make. Here comes my little warning, though. I had the bread dough in a stand mixer and I noticed that the dough started to march up the bread hook. This is a very dense, sticky dough, and throughout the mixing process kept working its way up the bread hook. Even with a spatula and a steady nerve, it got all over the place. Recently I have learned about an aftermarket attachment you can get for your stand mixer that prevents that and if I can find out the link I will put it in this article.
Anyway, pulla is a great holiday bread and not that hard if you remember to watch out for the bread crawling up the mixer.
Here is the recipe:
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon finely crushed cardamom
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preparation: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 1/2 hrs
- Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm.
- 2 Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, 4 eggs, and add 4 cups of flour and beat well; the dough should be smooth and glossy in appearance. Add the melted butter or margarine, and stir well. Beat again until the dough looks glossy. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is stiff. Knead by hand for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled.
- Turn out again on to a floured surface, and divide into 3 parts. Divide each third into 3 again. Roll each piece into a 12 to 16 inch strip. Braid 3 strips into a loaf. You should get 3 large braided loaves. Lift the braids onto greased baking sheets. Let rise for 20 minutes.
- Brush each loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for 22 to 28 minutes. Check after 20 minutes as the bottom burns easily.
This is a great holiday bread, very traditional, and not that hard. Other than the mixing, the toughest part for me was to remember how to braid things. I had not braided anything since I used to braid string in 3rd or 4th grade, Lo’ those many years ago.
Anyway, try the recipe out. I think you will like the results as will your friends and family.
(And if I have screwed this up royally, Finns can feel free to drop a comment. Swedes – shut it.)
N.B. Guest blogger Erik Nabler blogs regularly about drinks and drinking at the Liquor Locusts.