My favourite week-day breakfast, before I stopped eating regular bread, used to be toast and coffee. Nothing fancy there. Just tumble out of bed, roll into the kitchen, put the water to boil for coffee, and pop a double-slice of bread in the toaster.
I was a little picky about the toast, though. It had to be made from a good heavy, grainy bread that would pick up some strength from being toasted and it had to be dark toast. I like crunch, and it could never really be too crunchy for me. I didn't load it down with butter, either. I liked it dry or with a smidge of butter, peanut butter, or occasionally, jam.
I always wanted one of those antique English toast racks. I figured the English knew a thing or two about how to eat toast. And they weren't having any of those margarine-soaked slices stacked up on a plate, so they steamed themselves into a soggy square that actually turned down in your hand, folding itself shamefully in two. The kind of toast they serve at family restaurants.
Even as a little kid, travelling with family, and looking forward to a rare meal out, I couldn't contain my disappointment when that kind of toast was served. I couldn't eat it, either. To me that toast was the epitome of everything that was wrong with packaged white bread. I figured cremation was too good for it. Just toss it to the dog, if she wasn't too fussy, and bring out the real deal, crisp golden brown slices with a hint of the smoke of the oven, unbuttered, maybe cut diagonally in two, arrayed on the ides of the plate around the eggs, and when I bit into them, gloriously crisp, crunchy, toothsome, perfect.
I still like toast. It helps improve the flavour and texture of gluten-free bread, which tends to the cakey, crumbly, and bland side of the bread spectrum. In other words, most of the commercially prepared gluten-free bread, and even home-made loaves, are a bit of a disappointment. More "memories of bread" than real bread. It's no secret among gluten-free folks that one of the things we would love best is a recipe for a nice loaf of bread. Good toast is probably a close second. Often the toast made with these breads is rather pallid. Bruschetta, a great gilding of toast, and perfect for breakfast or a snack, is almost impossible, because it relies on grating the raw garlic over the toasted surface of the bread, and you need enough strength and structure in the bread to do that.
I have dearly missed brushetta; I loved it for breakfast with deep dark coffee.
Happily, I've discovered I can make a pretty good toast and therefore a good bruschetta with gluten-free bread.
I had a few too many slices for breakfast yesterday, just to perfect the method, you understand.
Yep, it works. And it was darned enjoyable.
For all you gluten-free folks who have been longing for bruschetta, here's my method. I used Glutino Flax-seed bread and it worked well. You might like to experiment and let me know which ones you favour.
For this toast you need a small (or large) cast iron frying pan. Just the thick black ordinary kind. This pan could be your best friend for crusty pancakes, fried tofu, anything that you want extra flavour and crispiness in. It's my favourite pan these days. It might be hard to find in Japan, though. I'd appreciate if any of my readers from there let me know about a source.
Note for campers: this method work for any toast, in the absence of a toaster, and I think the toast is tastier, too. It's got some of that smoky flavour of other camp toast, without the heavy scorching issues.
Put your cast iron pan on high heat and heat it up for a minute, then put in the slice of bread in without using any oil. You need to wait until the toast starts to smoke just a tiny bit. Keep checking until you get used to how fast it cooks. Once the pan is hot it will cook very quickly and you might want to reduce the heat to medium or low. Usually it takes less than a minute a side in a hot pan. Turn it with a fork.
When it's done, immediately put it on a plate and grate a garlic clove that you've peeled and cut in half over one side a few times, to taste. Drizzle on a bit of extra-virgin olive oil and a drift of salt. Eat right away for the crispiest texture. It does tend to get limp fairly quickly. You could try putting finished toast, without the topping, on a wire cookie rack and see if that holds the crispness. I'll try that next time.
In any case, this toast is very good, and about the closest to regular bread I've tried. You could also top it with anything else that makes your hungry heart flutter.
Enjoy the crunch!