The Art of Toast

Toast can be anything but ordinary.  Most of us think of it as the stuff of peanut butter and jam, but it can be a wonderful blank canvas for colour, texture and flavor.  It can make the taste buds sing in the AM or provide a comforting snack or light supper.  But what elevates toast from ordinary to extraordinary?  3 words.  Attention to detail.  What exactly does that mean anyway?

Well, first off, the bread makes a big difference.  A crusty artisanal loaf is a good place to start.  When the base layer is already tasty, the toppings enhance rather than hide the taste of the toast.  Other nice choices include nut and seed breads, spiced loaves and denser more cake-like breads or loaves.

Next, there’s the level of toasting.  I’m all about a golden, bordering on dark, crispy toast level.  Others prefer chewy and moist.  However you like the toast – watch it like a hawk, particularly when working with a new bread.

And then it’s toppings.  Avocado toast is all the rage these days – but in my humble opinion, the unsung hero of the toast world is roasted sweet potato.  Particularly over more bitter nut butters like sunflower and sesame.  But the point is to think outside the box: unconventional spreads, spice pastes and dips can all work.  Roasted vegetables, sauced or baked beans, seared mushrooms – all of them are options.  Mix and match until you find the unlikely best food friends that were just waiting to meet.

To conclude and really nail that toast, flavor accents.  A little something to make it all shine.  A couple of examples to try, should you so desire, are the ones in the photo:

What you need for the Sesame-Sweet Potato Toast:

  • 1 large slice sourdough bread, halved and toasted
  • 2 slices of roasted sweet potato (either oven roasted or BBQd, but do try and do it on the BBQ – it makes for an incomparable sweetness and smokiness)
  • sprouted black sesame butter (I like the BTR (Better-Than-Roasted) brand)
  • Zaatar

What you do for the Sesame-Sweet Potato Toast:

  1. Butter the bread with as much or little black sesame butter as desired.  Top each half with a slice of sweet potato and sprinkle with some Zaatar to finish.
  2. Serve.  Although it works anytime of the day or night, it would be particularly striking on Halloween – at which time using a stencil to sprinkle the Zaatar into a pumpkin face would be apt.

What you need for the Avocado Toast:

  • 1 large slice sourdough bread, halved and toasted
  • 1/4 or 1/2 of an avocado, depending on size
  • plant-based cheese, preferably a cultured/fermented variety with some depth
  • nutritional yeast
  • a wedge of lemon or lime

What you do for the Avocado Toast:

  1. Spread a nice thick layer of plant-based cheese on the bread.  In the photo, it’s a cashew-based, cultured, cheddar-style cheese that I make.  If you want to make some of the good stuff yourself, then Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese is an amazing reference guide and instruction/recipe book.
  2. Top each half with a couple of slices of avocado and use a fork to mush them a bit and give them some grooves.  Sprinkle with the nutritional yeast and squeeze a bit of juice from the lime or lemon wedge overtop.
  3. Serve.

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