Beard on Bread

September 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

On the subject of Toast, James Beard writes with the same no-nonsense yet inviting style as he does in recounting where and how he learned the recipes presented in the book. His voice can be both full of nostalgia and censure in the same sentence. His air of expertise is not off-putting, but rather at-ease-putting, as if to say he knows you can do it and wants you to know it, too.  

“It seems to me that one seldom finds toast that is really toasted. Usually it is a flabby piece of warmed bread with slight color to it. My thoughts go back a long way to the days when I first lived in England and one would still use a toasting fork in front of the fire to toast bread, crumpets, and muffins for tea. Never, never, never has toast smelled or tasted as good, save when it has been done over a toast rack on a stove or over coals. Our electric toasters are extremely efficient, but people do not use them correctly. Bread is not toasted when it takes on color; it must have a change of texture as well. So don’t be afraid of darker toast, and put it in a rack afterward so that it crisps instead of sogs. Nothing is as revolting as the plate of toast one usually receives in a restaurant or hotel; this comes buttered and wrapped in a napkin, and while it may have been crisp when it came from the toaster, it has, in the meantime, steamed to a most unpleasant texture. On the other hand, English toast is often kept too long in a rack, so it becomes cold, although crisp. I am not sure which is the greater crime, particularly when a perfect piece of toast made from good bread is one of the most delicious foods–and one that any fool can make.”

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