This recipe was attempted by Chelsea McClellan, an accounting representative who works in the admin suite of Strozier Library. She has been with the University for four months and considers her baking skills to be non-existent.
For the Rare Books Bake Off I decided to recreate Cheese Toast from the cookbook titled The Country Kitchen. The instructions were brief and seemingly simple, though the lack of specific direction seemed to be my downfall. The recipe instructed to “take a pudding dish, grate a layer of cheese and sprinkle with salt and pepper, add lumps of butter, then a layer of breadcrumbs, then a layer of cheese until your dish is full. Have breadcrumbs on top sprinkled generously with lumps of butter. Bake twenty minutes in a moderate oven.”
I used a single serve oven safe dish that I felt most resembled the shape of toast (or cheese-butter-breadcrumb lasagna), double smoked cheddar cheese from Aldi’s, and seasoned breadcrumbs (In hindsight the seasoning alongside the salt and pepper and cheese was overly salty, and I should have used unseasoned breadcrumbs or skipped the salt and pepper altogether).
I grated a layer of cheese, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish, and topped it with salt and pepper, slices of butter, and breadcrumbs. If I were to recreate this dish, I suppose it may have held better if I were to melt the butter or even use an egg to hold the breadcrumbs together.
I continued these steps until I no longer had the strength to grate cheese (the equivalent of about three thin layers), then baked it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. As it was still not quite toasted by that time, I set the oven to broil for about a minute, which did help to make my “toast” crispier and more golden.
The outcome was not exactly what I would refer to as toast; It more closely resembled one large awkward mozzarella stick; it was basically cheese coated with breadcrumbs. Some of the breadcrumbs did hold to the cheese, but there were quite a bit of excess breadcrumbs, and it was incredibly salty (I suppose I can only blame myself for that). Additionally, each layer did not stick together, so it was as though each layer of cheese and breadcrumbs were separate from the next. Again, I do think that either melting the butter or adding an egg to the mixture may have helped, or even mixing the ingredients in a bowl and patting it into the dish.