10 Takes On Toast
Toast isn’t just for breakfast. Slice and smear your way to delicious tartines, open-faced sandwiches, and crostini any time of the day.
Not only is toast photogenic, it's infinitely customizable (toppings, yo) and something that virtually anyone can whip up quickly. But before you start on your next toast-venture, there are a few basic guidelines for the bread, heat, spread, and toppings. (Already a master of toast? Jump to the recipes here.)
Choosing your bread
Texture is everything when choosing bread for toast, so you'll want to think about matching your bread to your toppings. Soft brioche, for example, will wilt under the weight of heavy proteins or wet sauces, but it’s perfectly suited for soft cheeses like mascarpone or for berries and light greens. Slabs of rustic bread have a satisfying crunch but can have holes in them, so it’s best to lay down a barrier (like sliced cheese) before drizzling anything over it or sprinkling it with smaller toppings. Dense breads like rye and pumpernickel impart unique flavors that pair well with cured fish and meats. Baguettes are a versatile choice because you can cut so many sizes and shapes from them.
Pre-sliced bread from the store toasts up just fine, but there's nothing like a freshly baked loaf for flavor and versatility. So buy a whole loaf from a bakery or get to mixing your own. This way, you can choose how thick to slice your bread.
Heat it up
Throwing a piece of bread in the toaster or toaster oven is easy enough, but if you don’t have either of these appliances, you can still char your way to a meal. Here are a few other toasting options:
- On the stovetop: With a gas range, you can quickly grill thick slices right on the fire using tongs. For a safer option (or for electric ranges) use a grill pan.
- In the oven: To feed a crowd, lay slices of bread on a sheet pan, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Under the broiler: Move the oven rack to the very top and fire up the broiler. Heat the bread for just a few minutes, watching closely, then remove, flip, and repeat. This is also a great technique for melting cheeses.
A word of caution about hot toast: Serve it right away or let it cool on a rack. Bread has moisture on the inside that will try to escape while still hot, so stacking it will leave you with a pile of limp bread that has essentially steamed itself (diners and pubs in the U.K. have toast racks for this reason). If you don’t have a rack, try to balance the toasts vertically like a house of cards.
Spread it out
Once you've chosen your bread and toasted it up, it's time to start layering. I like to start with something soft and spreadable: Fatty spreads and soft cheeses act as a lubricant, provide a contrasting texture to the crisp bread, and help keep toppings from falling off.
A classic choice is plain ol’ butter. Don’t underestimate it! It can be salted, compounded with herbs, smoked, and cultured. Remember to leave butter out to soften or whip it up in a stand mixer; otherwise you’ll be loudly dragging it across your bread.
If you can spread it, it can go on toast. Besides the classic condiments you already know like nut butter and jelly, there's a world of possibilities to explore using your favorite dips and blended vegetable purees. Try out hummus with sliced cucumber on top, or plaster on leftover mashed potatoes with slices of roasted turkey breast for a Thanksgiving throwback.
Top it off
Here's where you really get to be creative — and make a toast to remember. Sure, you can enjoy a simple toast with spread, but extra toppings can fill you up and provide a satisfying mouthfeel.
Slice up fruits, vegetables, pickles, or meats small enough that they’ll stay on after you take a bite. Drizzle olive oil, pesto, or reduced balsamic vinegar to add more acidity. Another option is fresh lemon zest — it imparts a lovely aroma without too much tang.
My favorite part of creating toasts is adding an extra crunch from a sprinkle of large-flake finishing salt, seeds, or nuts. (I’m also a crazy person who saves the dregs of potato chip bags for this purpose.) Recently, I’ve also been enjoying labneh with spicy cucumbers and crispy shallots.
10 toasts to try today (and tomorrow, and the day after that...)
Ready to put your newfound toast knowledge to the test? Give one of these ten recipes a try:
Vegetable Ribbon Tartines
Quick-pickled veggie ribbons are sandwiched between a bed of tangy whipped cheese and a sprinkling of salty, crunchy pumpkin seeds for a light and elegant summer treat.
Molletes de Chorizo
These traditional Mexican open-faced sandwiches frequently feature refried beans, a thick layer of melted cheese, and fresh tomato salsa. In our take on the mollete, we forgo the tomatoes for spicy fried Mexican-style fresh chorizo and opt for a light sprinkling of queso fresco for the cheese. Serve with salsa and sliced avocados if you like.
Fresh Radish Tartines with Cultured Butter and Sea Salt
Spicy spring radishes are the perfect foil for tangy European-style cultured butter. These simple toasts are a great way to highlight fresh radishes from the market (or your garden).
Cheese makes anything better — especially when it's melted under the broiler ‘til warm, brown, and bubbly, as with this classic comfort toast from the British Isles.
Fried Egg Toasts with Sautéed Greens
High in protein, healthy greens, and, most importantly, flavor, these versatile toasts will take whatever seasonal greens you have on hand to make a satisfying breakfast, power lunch, or light dinner.
Blue Cheese, Pear, and Honey Toasts
This classic combination of sharp cheese, fruit, and honey shines when paired with a dense, semi-sweet nut bread. Use whatever fruit is in season — figs or stone fruits such as apricots or plums would also make a wonderful topping for these tangy-sweet toasts.
Mashed Sweet Potato Toasts with Furikake
These mild, kid-friendly toasts feature furikake, a Japanese seasoning with bits of seaweed, sesame seeds, and other spices frequently used to add flavor to plain rice. While its unique flavor makes it well worth seeking out, you can substitute black sesame seeds if you prefer.
Pan con Tomate
Pan con tomate, or "tomato bread," is a classic (if simple) Spanish tapa that celebrates perfectly ripe tomatoes and artisanal olive oil. Use the best ingredients you can afford and let the ingredients shine!
Sourdough Fett'unta with Whipped Chevre & Sauteed Mushrooms
Fett'unta, or "oiled bread," is the OG Italian bruschetta: nothing more than toasted bread doused in high-quality olive oil, and typically rubbed with raw garlic. For this version, the garlic goes in the mushroom mix, where the earthy flavor plays off the tangy goat cheese for a flavor match made in heaven. Use a sourdough baguette to make bite-sized crostini to serve as an appetizer.
Berry Toasts with Marshmallow Creme
Is it a sweet breakfast or a crunchy dessert? We'll let you decide. The topping quantities here work for generous slices of bread; you may have leftovers — or need more bread — if your loaf is on the smaller size. Pro tip: Any leftover marshmallow creme makes a great dip for fruit, graham crackers, and more.
Once you're done with that? Break free from recipes and let your imagination go wild. Here are a few more toast ideas to try — customize them according to your tastes (and your pantry):
Ham and cheese melt
Turn your broiler on high. Toast one side of the bread for 2 minutes, flip and dress with a couple slices of Swiss cheese and a single slice of prosciutto. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the meat has curled up on the edges.
Artichoke dip crostini
Drain and blend a jar of marinated artichokes in a food processor with a block of cream cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Spread it on toasted baguette rounds and grate Parmesan cheese over it.
Cured salmon and scallion cream cheese
Slice two scallions and fold them into cream cheese. Spread it onto pumpernickel toast or crispbread. Drape the salmon over the cheese and crown it with fresh lemon zest.
Egg in a hole
Use a shot glass or small cookie cutter to make a hole in a slice of bread. Melt a Tablespoon of butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Place the bread in the pan and crack an egg into the hole. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes until the white is opaque, flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the yolk barely jiggles.
While we’re talking about eggs, throw a fried egg onto any toast for more protein and experiment with soft scrambled eggs as a spread.
Want more ideas? There are almost 130,000 toast recipes on Yummly.
What are you toasting up? Let us know by tagging @Yummly on Instagram.