A Toast to Toast

board with toasts with different toppings - dried figs, kiwi, banana and blueberry, strawberry

My early memories of toast is as a breakfast food usually topped with the basic spreads of butter and jam.  At that time toast was considered a “thrifty” choice and was often an economical way to use up stale bread.  Over the years, this “comfort food” has evolved and become a significant food trend to the extent that some toast creations are now referred to as “artisan”.

What is “artisan toast”

According to some, “artisan toast” is very similar to ordinary toast except “bigger, better and louder.” It is about innovating toast and pairing it with varied and interesting toppings and I have seen some examples that truly do resemble a work of art.  With toast as a proven platform, the possibility of toppings is limitless and as it seems there is very little that can’t be successfully added to a slice of toast, it is a great way to enliven the creative as well as digestive juices.  

board with toasts with different toppings - dried figs, kiwi, banana and blueberry, strawberry

Origins of “toast”

Although the word toast comes from the Latin torrere meaning ‘to burn’, I think the preference for most of us is that we don’t go to that extreme for a good slice of toast.  

According to Emily Upton’s article The History of Toast, the bread we enjoy today was “likely invented in ancient Egypt” where it was discovered that, due to yeast spores in the air, dough would rise if left sitting out. By about 3000 BC, the closed oven was invented for the baking of the first leavened breads.

However, if the bread was left out in the desert heat for long periods of time, it would go hard and become difficult to eat. Upton believes that it is “likely that toast originated as a way to preserve bread since scorching it would make it last longer as a palatable food”.

board with toasts with different toppings - dried figs, kiwi, banana and blueberry, strawberry

Origin of the term “to toast”

In the Origin of Toasting Drinks, Tegan Jones refers to the term “to toast” someone as originating in the 16th century and it is thought to have sprung from the practice of adding warmed bread to a drink, often wine.

Although settling down with a glass of wine and dunking a piece of toast into it does not immediately spring to my mind as a way to enjoy either, it was actually quite a common practice at that time. It is thought to be due to the quality of wine and by placing a piece of toast in the drink, it was supposed to soak up some of the acidity and improve the flavour. 

plate of toasts with different toppings - dried figs, kiwi, banana and blueberry, strawberry

Ideas for toast as a complete meal

Today toast can be eaten with just about anything and by adding a variety of toppings, toast can become a healthy addition to any meal of the day. It not only looks appealing but can go a long way to ensuring that you eat a rainbow and get the necessary variety of nutrients.

Some of the most common spreads I use are nut butter or chia jam but for something a little different, I have started to use a tahini-based spread which can be topped with figs or fruit which I first came across in Deirdre Nielson’s cookbook, Eat More Plants.

board with toasts with different toppings - dried figs, kiwi, banana and blueberry, strawberry

Recipe for Tahini and Banana Spread:

In a small blender combine the following:

  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 small or 1 large ripe bananas
  • 2 tsps lemon juice
  • 1 tsps coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Spread on toast and then add sliced figs or any choice of fruit and sprinkle with cinnamon.

board with toasts with different toppings - dried figs, kiwi, banana and blueberry, strawberry

Closing Thoughts

Good toast usually starts with good bread.  There are so many tasty breads available and my current favourite is a red fife sourdough which comes from a wonderful bakery which is a 40km bike ride, one steep hill and a ferry ride away.  It is totally worth it!

Although I believe most people enjoy toast warm, there were obviously certain idiosyncrasies in our family as I recall several of us preferred our toast cold.  In fact, some even went to the extreme of putting it in the freezer for a few minutes after toasting, just to take the “edge” of! I must admit, I was one of the guilty ones and still prefer to leave my toast cooling for a while before eating. However, whether you like it hot or cold, have fun experimenting with all the wonderful topping possibilities out there.

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  1. Healthy and great idea’s for toast toppings!!

  2. A good way to get kids eating 🙂

  3. All your toast variations look so good!!

  4. Yum! They look delicious and so pretty!

  5. What a relief to find such a delightful post! Cleve, coloufull, and intelligent. I am putting an order for Emily’s book today. Absolutely love your toasts+
    Thank you!


  6. 40 km bike ride for bread!! Must be really too good to put up so much efforts.
    Didn’t know so many facts about Toast.
    Cold toast-this is completely new. Will try it once!

    • It is but it is a very scenic and enjoyable route so totally worth the effort. Let me know if you become a cold toast convert .. you never know 🙂

      • That’s true, with beautiful view any ride is worth covering kilometers. Cold toast sounds good to try but my throat sensitivity and cold things don’t do well until and unless I am really at a very place. My current city Bangalore always has very pleasant temperature so body resistance to fight with extreme weather dies down.

        • I hear you about the sensitivity. Hopefully, it would be OK for you as it is not cold like ice-cream but more room temperature and most of all the thing I like about leaving the toast to cool it that it seems to make it crispier.

  7. Crispy is definitely my favorite thing!! I will definitely try once this corona fear is out of the air. Otherwise nowadays a simple cough is scary?

  8. This certainly lifts toast to a whole new level. What super ideas for turning the humble piece of toast into a feast. I shall definitely have a go. And I am of the hot toast camp, not a fan of cold toast !!

  9. Healthy way of living! ?

  10. Enjoyed this article so much. I always eat my toast Straight from the toaster. However, when on holiday I would always eat it cold and enjoyed it.

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