High End Toast


The other day, my friend Jerry sent me a link to an article about the high end toast scene. He knows I’m interested in bread and baking and odd food news. What is the high end toast scene? Well, apparently, toast is quite the fancy item these days in cities like San Francisco where people line up (seriously) to pay as much as $6 a slice. What, is this toast made of gold? Nay, tis not! It’s just….you know, toast. Toast with toppings!

Of course, toast with toppings is nothing new. (Jelly, anyone?) But, one can get into a jelly rut, right? Think outside the jelly! Actually, most of these toast ideas aren’t that far “outside the jelly” and yet I still found them interesting enough to take up as a challenge and replicate some of the toasts. (You can see the article Jerry sent me, with the photos of the actual fancy toasts, here.)

All of these “high end toast” concoctions involve bread, obviously. Country-style bread. That means fresh-baked loaf bread, sliced thick.
That’s some whole grain bread from home-ground wheat berries, and some regular ol’ white bread. Take a thick-cut slice and butter it up, both sides, and broil. Add toppings, and in most cases, broil again.

These aren’t breakfast sandwiches–there’s not a second slice on top. It’s a celebration and elevation of the fundamental single slice of toast.

There is the basic, simple, and always delectable cinnamon/sugar toast, a standard “beginner” sample at the high end toast bakeries.
Once you’ve achieved the first level of high end cinnamon toast, try a slice buttered and broiled then whip out the sweetened condensed milk and broil it again. Sprinkle on some nutmeg while you’re at it.
You could get this whole breakfast plate around here, but you couldn’t afford it at a high end toast bakery.
That’d probably run you about $25 at one of those joints!

By the way, try that sweetened condensed milk trick on top of a slice of cinnamon toast. That turns toast right into a cinnamon bun, let me tell ya.

Veer off into another direction by buttering and broiling (ever the first step) then slathering on peanut butter or a flavored nut butter. This is salted caramel hazelnut butter. Broiled again, of course.
That just about turns breakfast into dessert.

You can go in a savory direction, too, with a thick slice broiled on both sides with garlic butter.
Top with sliced avocado. The sunny side up egg costs extra, buddy.

Having replicated the high end toasts in the article, other ideas hit me. Various combinations of things like cheese, pepperoni, bacon, fried green tomatoes (hey!), sliced fruit, and on and on. The possibilities are endless.

All of these high end toasts cost pennies at home and taste even better with homemade bread. (That avocado and egg toast is surprisingly delicious, by the way. Especially with garlic butter.) So put the jelly away for a day and try something different.

But don’t go spending six bucks for it. There’s just no sense in that!

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Mozzarella, My Way


It’s been a while since I’ve written about mozzarella. I make more mozzarella cheese than anything else, and at this point, I’ve taught as many people to make mozzarella as people who have milked Glory Bee. Which numbers in the hundreds. (I always tell workshop attendees not to worry when they try to hand milk her, she’s not interested in what’s going on back there, she’s eating her big breakfast, and she’s been milked by hundreds of people. She doesn’t care.) Over the years, I’ve changed and refined how I make mozzarella. I’ve had lots of mozzarella discussions with LauraP (my co-teacher in big cheese workshops). She’s made little changes over the years in how she makes her mozzarella, too, which made me feel more confident about creating my own version. Everyone has their own way, and the beauty of the cheesemaking journey is discovering your way–and that it’s okay to deviate from the basic recipe.

Today, when I make mozzarella for myself–and when I teach workshop attendees–this is how I do it. This version creates a very tender, flavorful soft mozzarella that is like the “fresh mozzarella” you may find in some stores or restaurants.

Rick Hutchinson’s photos from the big two-day cheese retreat are so fantastic, I’m going to use them again. You can see more of his cheesemaking photos here and see his complete portfolio here.

The ingredients:

1 1/2 level teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1 gallon whole milk, raw or lightly pasteurized (145 degree pasteurization)
1/4 teaspoon lipase powder (Italase) dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water (for 20 minutes prior to using)*
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water
cheese salt to taste (I use kosher salt)
reserved whey

*Lipase is optional, but it adds flavor that makes cow milk taste more like a mild goat milk.

First, go milk your cow.

Pour the gallon of milk into a large pot and add the citric acid solution. Begin heating the milk, continuing to stir, until it reaches 90 degrees. Stir in the diluted lipase. Mix thoroughly then stir in the diluted rennet with an up-and-down motion. Continue heating (but STOP stirring) the milk until the temperature reaches 100-105. You’ll feel the milk thickening against the thermometer when you move it, and start to see the cheese pulling away from the sides of the pot, revealing the whey.
Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes before transferring to a microwaveable bowl using a large slotted spoon.
I use a glass two-quart bowl with a pour spout.
Pour off as much whey as possible, using the spoon or your hands to hold back the curds. Reserve enough whey for the brine at the end. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for 60 seconds.

Remove the bowl from the microwave and pour off whey. Gently fold the cheese over and knead lightly. Pour off more whey, then heat in the microwave again for 30 seconds. Pour off whey and repeat the gentle folding and light kneading, once. Pour off whey. Sprinkle half a tablespoon cheese salt over the cheese. Fold and knead. Sprinkle another half tablespoon cheese salt, fold and knead once more.

Pick up the cheese with your hands, form into a ball, and place in a plastic container large enough to hold the cheese. (A 16-ounce container works.)
Pour reserved whey over the ball of cheese, enough to cover it.
Sprinkle another teaspoon to half tablespoon of cheese salt into the whey in the container, to suit your taste. This creates a whey brine that adds back tons of flavor into the cheese. (Yes, I know it seems odd to go to all that trouble to get whey out then put it back in. It works. Trust me.)

Put on the lid and place the cheese in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours. When you take it out, you will have the softest, most tender and flavorful mozzarella you’ve ever tasted! Remove the ball of cheese from the whey and drain on paper towels for a few minutes then it’s ready to eat. Great for everything from pizza and lasagna and grilled cheese to just eating all by itself!

And now I can stop pointing workshop attendees to my outdated mozzarella post, but it does include directions for making mozzarella with store-bought milk. If using store-bought milk, look here for some additional information that might be helpful.

Note: All photos in this post are the property of Rick Hutchinson.

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