Time was, it was just for breakfast, spread with a layer of dripping or jam. Nowadays, toast is the new black, beloved of hipsters everywhere who appreciate artisan bread toasted and topped with the latest hot (and thus cool…) thing. Jane Pikett explains…
Cheese on toast with Heinz Salad Cream (a generous layer under the cheese, with a gap left around the edge to avoid seepage) was for years my sofa supper of choice.
I’ve grown up since then (though not out of my love of salad cream) and will dollop anything on toast at any time of day, so I am delighted at the rise of toast on menus. Anna Hedworth at Cookhouse in the Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle, is the undisputed queen of imaginative toppings, and her menu includes many variations, including goat mince ragu with Doddington cheese or whipped feta on toast with blood orange and walnut.
We like to take a hunk of proper sourdough (Vallum Farm’s from Corbridge Larder, Artisan Bakery’s from Blagdon Farm Shop, or home baked at PureKnead in Whitley Bay or at Knitsley Farm Shop), toast it lightly and top it with mashed avocado, soft-boiled egg, rapeseed oil, salt and chives.
If gluten isn’t your thing, we can recommend the gluten-free breads at PureKnead in Whitley Bay, and G/F rye from the Village Bakery in Melmerby, which is stocked in independent shops and retailers including Waitrose.
The key with beautiful bread is to slice it generously without descending into a doorstop and toast it lightly – enough to warm it through but not so much that you’re going to lose teeth on the crust. We like it best toasted on one side under the grill, and the other, un-toasted side, topped while warm.
We recommend whole grain rye with whipped cream cheese or ricotta, butter-sautéed mushrooms and fresh thyme (pictured below), or spread with labne, mashed garden peas, za’atar seasoning, fresh mint and a drizzle of olive oil.
Or try sourdough with a generous layer of best butter, soused herring, sliced red onion and dill, or spread a hunk of cottage loaf with stilton mashed with a little port, lightly grill it and top with pears pickled in a solution of cider vinegar and caster sugar. Or just go easy on yourself and keep it simple – tahini and honey is life-changing; nut butter topped with banana and cinnamon will keep you going all day; and cream cheese, pineapple and cashew nuts create a sweet sensation. Enjoy!