Saturday, 30 November 2013

Plain or Gilded - a Toast to Fanny's Mama

Fanny has made me do something I haven't done for years. I'm fooling myself it's in the name of retro-ness and of course to allow me to cook what Fanny insists, but I am secretly quite excited. Maybe it's a common feeling amongst those that bake their own bread - but actually buying a loaf feels like a splendid crime. You see, Fanny wants to show us how to make toast. At first it seems like a joke, but if I have picked up anything this far, it's to trust Fanny. Reminiscing about childhood toast I am reminded of the very Scottish Plain Loaf so I venture into my local supermarket, pick one up and sneak out before anyone sees me. I should add, I did pay for it, I'm not really a criminal.

Fanny wants me to make PROPER toast, just like her Mama used to do. If you are expecting 'pop the bread in the toaster and eat' as the recipe, think again. This toast will be 'all crisp on the underneath and gloriously oozy with butter on top' which will be perfect in front of a roaring log fire in winter. Or a chilly morning in Edinburgh. Fanny insists that we NEVER use a toast rack, which her Mama described as a 'draught with wire around it' but instead recommends a velvet lined box contraption to keep unbuttered toast warm at the dining room table. I don't have one of those. However it's Fanny's Mama's trick for buttered toast that I'm going for...

The trick is essentially to make toast as normal, but instead of spreading butter on, which may tear the toast and make it soggy, Fanny melts some butter in a tray on the hob and whacks in the fresh, hot toast when it's melted. It doesn't stay there long, Fanny warns too long and it will be 'sog', before lifting out and enjoying. I am actually amazed at how good it is, it tastes SO buttery and is indeed very crisp and oozy... I may never butter toast in the usual way again! 

NOTHING infuriates Fanny more than sitting down to dinner in a glossy restaurant and being served a pretty Water Lily napkin filled with Toast Melba that is OLD and COLD. Fanny is fuming as she tells us that it simply takes seconds to make in the proper fashion, and if we don't know how to we are in luck as Peter and Fanny show us in a series of pic-strips. Peter makes the toast, and Fanny makes the lily.

Peter guides us through the process of taking off the crusts, toasting each side gently, slicing the bread along the centre and toasting again until it curls beautifully. I'm not sure if Fanny would approve of me using the wrapper from the Plain Loaf to make my lily but I certainly would like to see her face in the glossy restaurant as it was delivered. It's like making one of those paper folders at school where you choose numbers and colours to decide who you 'fancy' really, except this one is to hold the Toast Melba. Much more practical.

I'm still feeling a little bit guilty if I'm honest, but with Fannys help I have certainly gilded the lily and expanded my knowledge of something so simple. Under Fannys instruction I shall never make batches of toast, Melba or Proper, and store them in tins (who would I wonder? The glossy restaurants?) but instead whip them up in seconds perfectly fresh and crisp. So, a toast to Fanny and her formidable Mama! 


  1. Love how bossy Fanny is about doing things 'right'. Huge nostalgia trip for me seeing that plain loaf with waxed paper, I didn't know they still made them!

    1. Nostalgia all the way for me too, I don't think I've had it since I was little! The waxy paper is so nostalgic to touch too, funny how memories pop into your mind! We used to make toast on a huge fork with a real fire :-) Thanks...

  2. I love Scottish plain loaf! I grew up on the stuff. I can only eat it toasted though. Great post!

  3. I think this is what The Sugerhill Gang must have had in mind when they rapped about how they liked "hot butter on their breakfast toast"- who knew Big Bank Hank was a Cradock fan?