By Chef Deb Traylor
One of the real pleasures I have as a chef and a culinary instructor is hearing about our guests’ childhood food experiences. Simple little treats – usually made by a grandmother, aunt, or mom – often hold the strongest memories. Anyone remember scraps of pie dough dipped in butter and sprinkled with sugar? Remember chopped up hot dogs added to eggs or beans to stretch them? Fried bits of corn tortilla and eggs (Migas, if you’re from South Texas) or fried bits of matzah and egg (Matzah brei, if you are Jewish).
Ask anyone if they’ve had cinnamon sugar toast, and immediately we are all on the same page. We’re 6 or 7 years old, and it’s our grandmother, mom or dad slathering butter on bread and sprinkling a magical mixture of ground cinnamon and sugar.
Every family has a different style. Some use a toaster, then butter and sprinkle. Others butter the bread, sprinkle away and put the yummy concoction in the oven to broil so that the top gets crunchy and crisp (in fancy cooking terms we call that bruléed). No matter the method, as a child it was simply the best breakfast or snack you could have hoped for.
In my family, I’m certain my grandma saved the ends or heels of the bread for just this purpose. She was always watching her pennies, yet she made her grandkids feel like they were so special.
Grandma would start by firing up the broiler on her old oven. Heels of bread were buttered (margarined?) and generous amounts of sugar and cinnamon were sprinkled over the entire bread – no corner was missed. She’d place the bread on a cookie sheet and stand at the oven taking carefully timed peeks to make sure she did not burn our toast.
Oftentimes, it scorched a bit, and she’d make a show of scraping off the burned bits reminding us that it was “still good.” I must tell you… it sure was! I don’t have a single memory of not absolutely loving a piece of (possibly stale) bread carefully crafted with love and bits of char. I know you have a few of these stories too.
Nostalgia is one of the reasons Ginger wanted to open a pie shop. It’s an oft repeated narrative and we’ve realized that a connection to a fond memory simply makes all of us happy.
The one thing I know for sure is that we all share similar food memories and though they’re not always identical, they’re close enough to cause a collective nod, a smile, and the beginning of a lovely conversation.
A toast to grandmothers everywhere!
Tricked Out Cinnamon Toast
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1-1 ½ Tbsp. Ginger and Baker Pumpkin Pie Spice or Apple Pie Spice
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
- Eight slices of bread, or one French baguette cut in half horizontally
Preheat oven to 325°
In a small bowl whisk or stir together soft butter, sugar, brown sugar, spice blend, salt, and vanilla extract, if using. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Next, generously spread mixture over sliced bread or use our favorite; big slabs of French bread sliced horizontally. Place bread on parchment lined sheet pans and bake for 7-8 min. Next, turn on broiler, leaving the door ajar, and broil toast until the top begins to bubble and brown, about 2-4 minutes.
Slice toast into manageable pieces, and share (if you must)
Unexpected tricked out cinnamon toast…
For even more fun, use Ginger and Baker Gingerbread Spice and replace vanilla with 1 teaspoon of molasses!