Bread is toasted, or dried and browned, before the fire to extract the moisture and make it more palatable and digestible. If the slices be cut thick and carelessly exposed to a blazing fire, the outside is blackened and made into charcoal before the heat can reach the inside; the moisture is only heated, not evaporated, making the inside doughy or clammy, and when spread with butter, which cannot penetrate the charcoal, but floats on the surface in the form of oil, it forms one of the most indigestible compounds. The correct way is to have the bread stale, and cut into thin, uniform slices about one quarter of an inch thick. The fire should be clear, red (not blazing) coals. The crusts may be removed or not according to your taste, or the purpose for which the toast is intended. If you require only one or two slices, a toasting-fork will answer; but if a larger quantity be needed, there is nothing better than a double broiler with wires about a third of an inch apart. Place the slices evenly on one side of the broiler, being careful not to put in more than can be equally exposed to the fire; close the broiler and hold it firmly, that the slices may not slip; move it gently over the fire for one or two minutes; then turn it over, that all the moisture may be drawn out; hold it nearer to the coals, and color it a delicate golden-brown. Serve at once in a toast rack or piled lightly, that it may not lose its crisp-ness. Butter before serving, or send it dry to the table. Bread properly dried and toasted is changed from the nature of dough, which always has a tendency to sour on the stomach, into pure wheat farina. It is not so scorched as to turn the butter into oil, but absorbs the butter; and butter and farina, being easily separated, are quickly acted upon by the gastric fluid. Many persons prefer toast that is soft inside, but it should never be served to sick people in that manner. It is better to have it dry, and then moistened with milk or water, than to have it doughy. If the bread be freshly baked and you must make toast, dry the slices in a warm oven before toasting. Always toast over the coals, or in the oven. If toasted over a hot stove, the crumbs fall through and burn, giving it a scorched and smoky flavor.
1 saltspoonful salt.
1 cup milk.
4 to 6 slices stale bread.
Beat the egg lightly with a fork in a shallow pudding-dish; add salt and milk. Soak the bread in this until soft. Turn the slices by putting those underneath on the top, and dip the custard over them, being careful not to break them. Have a griddle hot and well buttered. Brown them on one side; then put a piece of butter on the top of each slice, and turn and brown on the other side. To be eaten hot with butter, also with sugar and cinnamon if liked. This is one of the nicest ways of freshening stale bread, and is especially convenient when the fire is not in order for toasting. It is called French, Spanish, German, and Nun's Toast; but Egg Toast seems to best indicate the character of the dish. When fried in deep fat, it may be used as a pudding by serving with a sweet sauce, and is then called Italian Fritters.
1 pint milk, scalded.
1 tablespoonful cornstarch.
1 large tablespoonful butter.
½ teaspoonful salt. 6 slices dry toast.
Scald the milk; put the butter in a granite saucepan; when melted, add the dry cornstarch; when well mixed, add one third of the milk. Let it boil, and stir constantly till it is a smooth paste; add the remainder of the milk gradually, stirring well; then add the salt. Put the toast in a hot deep dish; pour the thickened milk between each slice and over the whole. Keep the dish over hot water until ready to serve. If liked very soft, the slices may be first dipped in hot salted water, or in the hot milk before it is thickened.
Cream toast may be made in the same way, using a scant tablespoonful of butter, and cream instead of milk, or by thickening the boiling cream with one tablespoonful of cornstarch wet in a little cold milk or water; then salt to taste, and boil eight or ten minutes.
Have a shallow pan with one quart of boiling water and a teaspoonful of salt. Dip each slice of dry toast quickly in the water, then pile on a hot platter. Spread evenly with butter and serve very hot. Do not let them soak an instant in the water.
For poached eggs, cut the bread into rounds with a large cake-cutter before toasting. For small birds or asparagus, remove the crusts and cut into oblong pieces. For minces and fricassees, cut into small squares or diamonds. For a border, cut, after toasting, into inch and a half squares, and then into halves diagonally, making triangles; or cut into long pointed triangles.
Put one teaspoon of butter and half a teaspoon each of sugar and salt in one cup of scalded milk. When cool, add half a cake of compressed yeast dissolved in one third of a cup of lukewarm water. Stir in fine whole-wheat flour till stiff enough to keep in shape after you stop stirring. Mix it well, but do not knead it. Let it rise to double its bulk, then knead it just enough to shape it into a long thin roll. When light and double, bake in a hot oven about thirty minutes. Mix in the morning and it will be baked before dinner.