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May 1, 2010

Earlier this week, Oliver Thring wrote a short piece for the WoM blog about Soreen Maltloaf. Soreen Maltloaf is a most splendid thing, the only bakery product worth buying from anywhere but a bakery, and (I stick my neck out here) quite possibly the best thing you can unwrap form a plastic packet.

In my love for the Soreen I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with his every word until, that is, it came to the subject of toasting. Here we diverge, I’m afraid. I notice this anti toasting sentiment is attracting a growing following online, with blogger James Ramsden adding his bit to the debate. I know I normally write about daydreams and imagination, but I thought that, for once, I’d come back down to earth, stick my tongue in my cheek and fight the corner for one of my favorite tea time treat: a buttery toasted slice of Soreen’s finest.

To the doubters and haters, I say this: with the greatest respect, you’re just can’t be doing it right. Because if you do do it right, your slice won’t burn, and it won’t dry out. Indeed, it will be transported to new levels of sensation. Sensation that, quite frankly, the cold loaf cannot offer. And so I will give you some sort of instructions to guide you through the toasting process to smooth your transition to enlightenment.

It is possible to buy a sliced loaf, but I would urge you to avoid it. The cuts are square and clinical and the resulting surfaces are too smooth to be a toasty treat on the tongue. Buy a normal maltloaf and refrigerate it, this makes slicing easier. Ensure it is not squashed in transit. WIth a very good bread knife cut cm slices, making sure you don’t squash the slice in cutting it – saw, don’t press. Toast gently. The grill is better for this than the toaster – things get a bit sticky in there. You are aiming to grill quickly at high temp, and to achieve only gentle browning. Beware the dangers of browning a brown thing – it’s difficult to tell – test with your finger until the surface is crisp, then turn and grill the other side. When the second side is done, remove from the grill and slather in butter. This will melt, soaking into the slice. Re butter and then eat, quickly.

The maltloaf in its raw state truly is a wonderful thing – the last word in stodge, a convenient calorie booster and an excellent workout for the jaw. The perfect snack for a day’s climbing or after work treat; rip it and scoff it. But the toasted version, if done with care and an open mind, offers a much more rewarding prize. It is hot, the butter melts and oozes between your tastebuds. The crisp outer, wafer thin and crackling, gives way to the teeth exposing the centre, just as stodgy and sticky as cold, but now gently warm and oozing, and permeated with the salty lip-smack of the butter. The flavours at this lukewarm temperature are heightened. The textures multiplied and contrasting. Toasted maltloaf is to raw what a still warm soft boiled egg is to a cold hard one: both are great, but one is obviously better.

Free your minds and embrace the grill.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 20, 2010 14:50

    I could not agree more…who ARE these people that do not comprehend the virtues of the toasted maltloaf? I thoroughly approve of your idea of double-buttering; truly inspired. To my mind the toast is transported to an entirely new level of loveliness when paired with cold, hard, salty butter – but the timing is imperative – too warm and your butter will melt…soggy maltloaf is certainly not your goal having so carefully toasted it in the first place! On one point I must press you though – I put it to you that there is one other packaged item at least that deserves a mention in the reminiscing of dated delectables…Butterscotch Angel Delight. Please don’t hate me. It teleports me back to my grandmothers kitchen and that can never be a bad thing. Besides I am told that the truly discerning Nigel Slater shares my penchant and we can’t both be wrong, can we?

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