Toast 101: An Introduction

Posted on December 23, 2013 by Sandford Schirmer | 1 Comment



Toast is defined as “sliced bread that has been browned by dry heat.” Why does it get browned? Because of the Maillard Reaction, a chemical interaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar.

For a zany food science demonstration of how it works, see this video. For an adult version of the explanation, go here. If you need to explain the process to young children, go here. One would think that making toast is incredibly simple, but judging from the 1100 results available on You Tube there must be a lot of trepidation about doing it correctly. Even Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef who is on a mission to teach people home cooking skills, has a blog post about how to toast bread.

During the Maillard Reaction, hundreds of flavor compounds are created. Some of these account for the taste, smell and feel differences between a slice of bread and a toasted slice of the same bread. It also explains why the Nicer Slicer works so harmoniously in combination with a good toaster. Some breads have rich aromas that are created by toasting- salt rising bread, breakfast loafs, cheese loafs, rye bread all have distinct aromas when toasted that are a delight to the nose and palette. The act of slicering the bread opens up the soft inside, exposing the untoasted heart of the bread and creating all sorts of creative options.

From my perspective, almost any sandwich is better on slicered bread. From the hungry user’s perspective, there are some qualitative advantages to toasted slicered bread. Sandwiches made with them age well- meaning they are ideal for brown bag or lunchbox meals. Slicered toast stays supple due to the exposure of the soft insides to the sandwich contents. Cut in half, they make easy to handle packages for car travel or outdoor adventures.

Creatively speaking, retoasting once toasted and slicered bagels opens up your culinary horizon. The resulting crisps are wonderful as breakfast fare. Or they can be seasoned and baked for 10-15 minutes in the oven to make appetizers.

Slicered toasted bread can be wrapped around a hot dog or small sausage, and all sorts of hor d’oeuvres using cheese, bacon and other ingredients can be formed easily into shapes to bake in the oven. The possibilities are extensive. The toasted outside of the slicered bread creates a firmer surface. When the toasted outside is only one side of the bread the added strength enhances the character of many types of bread. Having both a soft side of the toast and a crunchy side create options for toppings and open face sandwiches. For example, I cook cheese in the oven on slicered toast soft side up and I create open face sandwiches (such as chicken salad) crunchy side up.

We think it’s good to play with your food! The point of all this experimenting is to enjoy creating your own food while eating less of it. If I am going to have to eat less (which as I grow older is obvious), I want to make sure I increase my enjoyment at least in proportion to the reduction in calories! The Nicer Slicer’s great strength as a tool is this quality- it makes bread, particularly toasted bread, better to eat. It allows me to avoid eating processed food spiked with chemicals whose names I cannot pronounce.

Please take my advice if you are interested in improving your health: get a Nicer Slicer and enjoy being in the kitchen!  Enjoy what you eat. Exercise and rest more, eat less. And have a chuckle while pondering the Jelly Toast Cat Paradox.

Sandy Schirmer

Posted in bagels, hot dogs, Jamie Oliver, Jelly Toast Cat Paradox, Maillard Reaction, toast

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1 Response


March 10, 2015

My family recently bought one of these slicer thingamabobs and I can’t get enough of it. It makes so that you get less carbs and more flavor, without wasting anything…actually saving more. But my favorite would definitely har to be when I toast a bagel, slicer it twice, so I have four quarters of a bagel. And then make two honey and peanut butter sandwiches. Yum. I’m salivating at the thought.

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