I originally heard that toast becoming a San Francisco trend from an episode of “This American Life.” It’s only because of the show that I didn’t bat an eye when my SF friend wanted to stop for toast while I was visiting. I enjoyed my bread snack. It was simple, filling, and tasted good. What more could you ask for?
I then started to notice how common it seemed on the menus in San Francisco. Toast was taking over. Furthermore, it wasn’t uncommon for it to cost $4 or more… for toast!
Sophisticated San Francisco Toast
When I got back home, I couldn’t help but crave the simple delight I had on the West Coast. After all, I had seen it everywhere! I started to think of what I could layer on to bread to enjoy. Upon researching the best toast in Bay Area, I realized the formula was simple: thick slice of good bread + fresh ingredients + imagination.
Artisan or specialty bread is nothing new, but they do have an especially nice variety of fresh breads in San Francisco. The Mill, an bakery in San Francisco, even goes a step beyond in the creation of the bread it uses for its toast recipes. It stone-grinds all its flours in-house and doesn’t use commercial yeast.
For my own recipe, I chose the Honey Wheat loaf from my local Panera. Pat and I like to use the bread for fondue, and we never use it all. I was happy to have another use for it beyond the one meal we usually make.
The toppings in San Francisco ranged from simple to complex. I had toast with just butter and cinnamon sugar at Trouble Coffee and Coconut. It was fantastic and easy to recreate later at home. However, other restaurants layer on the toppings: cream cheese, fingerling potato bits, capers, smoked salmon and sprouts– practically a sandwich.
The Toast Recipe
I tried to remember an old recipe I liked, which used a crisped tortilla as a base for a healthy dessert. Reworking the recipe, I eliminated some of the ingredients and added some lemon juice to soften the ricotta a little. What I came up with has been my go-to breakfast for a couple mornings this past week. I love that it uses fresh, in-season ingredients, and the lemon zest gives in a bright flavor that is a great pick-me-up in the morning. I love the combination of raspberry, lemon, and mint. The cinnamon sugar gives it an extra added sweetness.
- 1 good quality bread (I like the Honey Wheat from Panera), sliced about 1 inch thick
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. sugar
- ½ cup raspberries
- ⅓ c. ricotta cheese
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. fresh mint, roughly chopped
- Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small dish. In a separate dish, combine ricotta cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, and half of cinnamon sugar mixture. Mix well and set aside.
- Toast bread to desired darkness. Spread ricotta mixture on toast. Arrange raspberries on top. Sprinkle fresh mint on top of raspberries. Repeat with remaining cinnamon sugar.
I like my toast just as much as the San Francisco samplings. I think I may have to do a follow-up “research” trip though, just to make sure.