Am I the only one who knows how to properly toast bread into a work of art? Toasting is simple, fun and addictive and you can do it with a $9.99 toaster (or a $9.00 toaster if you’re a man). The first rule of toasting is to turn up the heat high enough and long enough so the toast changes color to a golden earthiness and changes texture to a crusty crunch on the outside while the inner mantle is still moist and soft: You want brown edges and tanned face.

There are too many people in my life who, when they make toast, turn the heat down so low on the toaster they are actually creating a dry, stale, day-old shingle out of delicious, fresh-baked, bread. We have no idea why this happens but we are disappointed when we are presented with toast meant for park pigeons and not for people. We understand the dry-bread approach to toasting is faster than the crunchy, golden road, but we believe it is better to serve virgin bread than to toast without commitment.

Before you add something to a properly crusted toast you need to wait a moment or two for the face to cool down just a wee bit. That way, whatever you add to your toast — butter, margarine, Nutella, jelly, preserves, jam, peanut butter, Vegemite — will gently ooze in a pool atop the bread without actually penetrating the crusty barrier you worked so hard to create. If you add the topping to your hot toast too fast, you will destroy the crunch with melting moisture that makes a soggy experience.

That is almost as bad as creating day-old bread from a perfectly soft and cushy slice of fresh manna. If, however, you wait too long for the toast to cool, you will shatter the new crusty golden layer with whatever you are spreading over your new masterpiece. You must time the toast’s readiness to accept spreading and you do it with a stopwatch and your finger. The stopwatch is used to give you an average time for future reference while your finger immediately tests for the proper temperature of the toast.

You know the toast is ready for accepting when your finger no longer burns on the surface. Your spread better be ready! You have less than two seconds to add a topping before it will rip into the cooling core. Here are the best breads for toasting:

1. Pumpernickel

2. 12 Grain Whole Wheat

3. Jewish Rye

4. Any heavy bread You must never use white bread for toast.

White bread, when toasted, becomes sugary and brittle and it burns black instead of toasting into a crunchy gold.


  1. Good grief! I didn’t know this was a science! 🙂
    What if someone prefers, as I do, to toast their bread in a toaster oven with the butter already on it? Is that considered inferior? 😉

  2. Hi Carla!
    We are worried you even have to ask this question! 🙂
    To make toast you must first toast the bread. Without that first step there is no “toasting” involved in the process even though the machine in play may have that word in its name.
    Adding butter to plain bread and then placing it into a “toaster oven” is to create, we fear, a bit of a mess that is more mush than masterpiece. We will have to pretend you never asked this quesiton.

  3. I admit I actually like my toast a little on the burnt side, makes it more crispier, which I like, and can stand up to whatever I may be placing on it.
    I admittently haven’t mastered toasting bagels yet only because I have “just a toaster” and jam those little suckers in there to get them somewhat toasted and then have to use a knife to fish them out once the toaster starts buzzing because it can’t pop them back up.

  4. Dearest hterry —
    We thank you for your excellent post and we hope Carla is taking notes. 🙂
    I’m not big on bagels. Tons of calories for very litle nutritional pay off.
    Now an English Muffin is another matter entirely…

  5. Bagels not nutritional? I’m shocked to hear this.
    You must look for the Sara Lee Bakery Brands. Very nutritional. I buy the whole wheat bagels. Of course every now and then I’ll stray and buy a package of blueberry ones *hangs head in shame* but they taste soo good 🙂

  6. Ah, but toast, that poor, plain dish, hasn’t been consumed in my family for generations. Instead, my great-grandmother “nanny” invented, among tomato sauce and popover recipes, what we call “Juicy toast.” We are a butter-loving family, so instead of putting toast in a toaster, we put toast in the oven on high broil and the KEY part of juicy toast is that you butter the toast BEFORE you put it in the oven. And don’t spread the butter either — just set big lovely pats on the bread so it will seep in in glorious patches of butteriness. Put the toast in on broil for a minute or two and when it is golden brown with dark edges, take it out and you will have a TRULY buttery delight. There’s nothing quite like juicy toast.

  7. hterry — The average New York bagel has around 600 calories from the go without anything extra added to it: Filling in quite an empty way! Oh, and you only buy bagels in bagel shops not from that Sara person in the frozen food aisle.
    Blair — The words “juicy” and “toast” are two words that should NEVER appear together within the same set of quotation marks! Your great-grandmother’s notions on toast are a bit too new-fangled for our taste. We are hoping Carla is NOT taking notes on your story! 🙂

  8. Blair! Bless you! I have someone on my side! Deny all you want, David, but we “toaster oven” people are out there and we’re not going anywhere! 🙂
    As a southerner, I never even heard of a bagel until I was in middle school, and the only type available was the Lender brand in the frozen food section. It wasn’t until I was out of college before I actually walked into a bagel place and had a freshly made, heavenly soft bagel.
    Needless to say, I left that Sara person and everyone else behind at the grocery store.

  9. Carla!
    You are destroying the idea of toast and we must insist that you stop encouraging Blair and her “juicy” and “toasty” non sequiturs!
    Toaster Oven toast is not the same as Toast Toast! Adding something to bread before putting it in your “oven” is creating a sort of simpleton’s bread pudding BUT NOT TOAST!
    We are thrilled to hear you have had a “real” bagel and not the store-bought kind. There’s nothing like a New York bagel in the morning in Greenwich Village where the bagel is so huge, even cut in half, you have to tear it down with your hands first to fit it in your mouth. Try that with one of your oven toaster strudel monstrosities!
    I am so glad I wrote this article to set the toast record straight! 🙂

  10. In my family there are two camps of “toast” lovers.
    One is the “wimpy toast” people who like their “toast” barely brown and quite flimsy.
    The other camp (the one that I belong to) is the “real toast” lovers. We prefer ours crispy, niced browned, and firm.
    There is always a battle at the table for whose toast we will be eating.

  11. Dearest Ken —
    We, of The Toast Police, thank you for understanding the Laws of Toast and by abiding by the rules of the heating element.
    We also hope Carla is once again taking notes because we may have a Pop Quiz later.
    Yours in Crust,

  12. Ok, I get my bagels fresh not frozen lol
    But they are Sara Lee bagels and there darn good. Bought me some more tonight when I went to Bi-Lo.
    Toaster ovens should be outlawed, I say get a petition going NOW!! lol

  13. Ah, hterry must live in the south, where BI-Lo is a grocery store. They used to have these large life-size cow statues on top of each store, where that idea came from I don’t know. In Greenville, BI-LO has even staked its claim on our entertainment arena, the BI-LO center; it’s quite embarassing.
    And the Sara Lee bagels are “fresh” in that they’re not frozen. You find them on the regular bread aisle.
    And…. BREAD PUDDING! I’ll have you know that I grew up with toast toasted in the oven WITH the butter already on it. If it was good enough for my ancestors, it’s just the way I want it! And when I eat my toast, I eat it with GRITS, not oatmeal!

  14. Carla!
    “BI-lo” sounds a lot like “Hy-Vee” in the Midwest. Now to figure out what the “BI” and the “Hy” mean is our next research project. 🙂
    Hmm… I think we need to have a discussion about “fresh.” To me it means direct from oven to mouth — as in a NY bagel. 🙂
    Toast begins dry and ends dry. That’s all there is to it and you can ask my new best friend Ken, newest member of The Toast Police, for a ruling on that one.
    Now you’re going to have to explain to us what makes up grits. Is that like sheep innards or something?

  15. Grits are made from hominy, which is actually a disgusting vegetable, but the center is a grain that is tasty when cooked until tender and butter added. Surely, they had this in the farmland of the midwest. (Sheep innards…. smart ass)
    The Toast Police? Are you guys going to make some sort of badge and go around like the Mattress Police? 🙂

  16. Ah! Thanks for the clarification on grits. Isn’t there some Southern comfort dish that is made from the guts of animals?
    We did not have hominy in the Midwest. Corn. Alfalfa. Boysenberries. Not grits.
    Yes, The Toast Police are getting badges and butter knives. Watch your toaster oven! 🙂

  17. If women can join The Toast Police, I would like to wear my badge with honor, please. For crying out loud, that’s why it’s called “TOAST,” People. You TOAST it. You don’t sop it in butter or give it a wimpy little bit of color and no texture in whatever you choose to ‘cook’ it in. You TOAST it.
    David, I’m going to be your Barney Fife here and carry a bullet in my pocket for ya. You and Ken are my heroes.

  18. My Dearest Barney —
    Welcome to The Toast Police! We admit all people to our Task Force as well as small animals and fish.
    Your first assignment will be to pat down Carla for any hidden pats of butter she may be wielding against the good citizens who prefer their toast dry and on the crispy side! 🙂

  19. Hello Will!
    Toast has many uses!
    Raw toast (toast that has been created from fresh bread and doesn’t yet have any spread) can be used to stave arterial bleeding.

  20. Hello Ms. Carla!
    I’ve never tasted chitlins, either. I would love to know how they became a popular dish and why they are still popular today in some cultures.

  21. Well, Andy, er, uh, I mean, David, I’m at yer service. Ready to pat down Carla for pats! (oh, but she wasn’t baiting ME, was she?)
    🙂 (this is getting sort of ridiculous now. I’m going to go listen to my recording of Mayberry Rap.)

  22. I’ve been looking for a long time. Paula, where can I find a copy of the Mayberry Rap?

  23. I don’t know if you are looking for the same “Mayberry Rap” that I use to hear when I was in Knoxville Tennesse as a co-op. I too have been looking for a copy of it ever since. It is a very funny comic view of the Andy Griffith show. With Don Knotts passing away this past weekend, I want to find it even more. I have always looked up to many of the older legends of Hollywood. They seemed to give more in tallent and showmanship. Mr. Knotts was one of my favorites. He will be sorely missed. If there is a way to find this audio comedic song, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank You.

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