Saturday, 9 January 2010

A toast to Louis

It was Grandad Harry who had me hooked. Hotel toast.

If Heston should even need the services of a doyen to his laboratoire posse, he need look no further than this man. He would have him at toast.

Being babysat by your grandparents and offered supper after already having a hefty wodge of food was always an added bonus to your slumber.

Slotting the fluffy wedges into the shunty grids was about as good as it gets as a seven year old in a flammable pink dressing gown. I would busy myself about the kitchen until the toast was ready, adjusting fridge magnets and licking my finger to mop up any crumbs that had fallen astray from its metal prison.

The reason that I waited for so long for my toast was the reason why I now wait in life..... l'essence d'hôtel.

It is all about the texture, not so much the taste in the toast.

Essentially toast to you and I is simply warm bread. However, after studying bread and its many complexities in depth at univeristy, I discovered how we come to appreciate this morning morsel. Apparantely one day a rather hungry and inquisitive chap, young Mr Louis Camille Maillard decided to check out the reactions between foods with proteins and foods that are sweet. I dig his vibe.

He was onto a winner when he discovered that upon the application of a dry heat source (step up Russell and Morphy) proteins would convert with the sugars in the bread and a lovely tangerine tinted shade would appear.

Upon the fragrant waft and the bright red signal from the depths of the toaster, the bread..sorry, toast, would pop out and alert all of its magnitude and prescence. The process would have a defined line of manufacture. From the brown melanine worksurface onto a dinner plate. Why a dinner plate? Surely a side plate for supper?

Well.... its just that dinner plates offer a much more spacious and liberating appeal to the toast and there is much more room for fresh air to integrate.

Onto the dinner plate and now the toast would be assembled into a doughy wigwam thus creating a tunnel for maximum waftage.

Building this structure provided the toast with ample breathing opportunity. Where so many have made mistakes and continue to do so in cafes, restaurants and houses we have the unfortunate opportunity to stay for breakfast is that they do not respect the time elapsed.
The main reason we do not make direct contact with bread to plate is that of bread perspiration. Yeast sweating profussely onto the plate produces a texture similar to babies chewing their morning toast. Don't even mention the crumb loss too.

Eight minutes was the PB for completion. We must have had some tail winds from an open window.

The toast was as good as ready when the surface abrasion had been complete and approved by Harry G.

Spreadage time.

Now, I have a lot of time for butter, a Lurpak girl by choice. Salty, nutty with a hint of toffee. Being able to see the mass of yellow blanketing the chewy raft was pure supper heaven. Teeth marks in the butter are also a staple part of the hotel toast experience.

Crumbs lapped up and time for my nylon nap.

Twenty years later, the suppers may have gone but I am still giving my 8 minutes each morning.

How do you like your toast??? x


  1. I favour the fresh from the toaster toast. I can't bear toast that has gone cold and chewy. So I get the butter and knife ready whilst the toaster is doing it's work and then as soon as the toast pops up, the butter's on and it goes lovely and melty on top. But I think nothing beats my Nan's toast she gave us when we were little girls. She does her toast on a proper grill over the oven and it is perfection. She has to stand and wait to turn it over with her asbestos fingers so that it doesn't burn. Yum.

  2. Good memories of toast and egg in a cup ... Heaven.