Artisinal toast is really having a moment these days and I, for one, am loving it (and kicking myself for not opening a toast bar years ago). People roll their eyes at the idea of paying $3.50 for someone to warm up a slice of bread and slather it with simple toppings knowing darn well they could easily make it themselves. True, but they don’t. Sure, you could go to the grocery store and buy a loaf of Wonderbread, imitation butter, sugar and cinnamon for something close to $3.50, but it will taste nothing like, say, the mouthwatering and mind-blowing cinnamon sugar toast at The Mill in San Francisco. The secret here is simple. It’s the bread, people. You could have all of the best toppings in the world but if your bread is weak, you’re wasting your time.
Sometimes it’s nice to share a painfully clichéd SF style moment with a buddy, splurging on artisanal toast and fairly traded, micro-batch roasted coffee in an upscale, tragically hip cafe on Divisadero – Instagramming the carefully curated wall of handcrafted, regionally sourced, kitchen wares all the while. I’ve been there, and there ain’t no shame in that. However, most times, it’s best to pick up an undeniably good loaf of artisan bread handmade in small batches and make your own toast at home.
This recipe for Blueberry Walnut Toast is one of my absolute favorite foods on earth. It all starts with a good loaf of bread. Whether you’re in Portland picking up a rustic loaf of Como from Grand Central Bakery, in San Francisco and you’ve waited in line all afternoon for one of those famous Tartine loaves, or if you find yourself off 101 on the Central California coast visiting the best bakery in the region, Bob’s Well Bread, do yourself a solid and seek out good bread. It will change your toast game for life and your toppings will shine atop a thick slab of artisan bread. I mean, bread is the staff of life. I read that somewhere.
This recipe is simple. I began with toasting two slices of Pain Au Levain bread from Bob’s Well Bread and then slathered them with rich cream cheese, toasted walnuts, blueberries, honey and a dash of cinnamon. The levain is a slightly sour country loaf that pairs well with the sweetness of the berries and honey. The walnuts give a toasty crunch and the cinnamon brings warmth and comfort. This blueberry walnut toast makes for an ideal snack anytime of day, but tastes best when luxuriously and leisurely enjoyed as breakfast in bed made by someone you love. Valentine’s Day is coming up quick *hint hint*.
A big shout out to my dear friend, Susan, for showing me this combination of toppings on bagels years ago. Bread or bagels, this combo is a heartthrob.
- artisan pain au levain bread - 2 thick slices
- cream cheese - 4 tablespoons
- walnut pieces - 1/2 cup
- blueberries - 1/2 cup
- honey - 2 teaspoons
- cinnamon - 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon
- Begin by toasting walnuts in a dry, hot, cast-iron skillet or pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they begin to brown and give off a nutty aroma, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Slice two big, thick slabs from a high quality loaf of rustic, handmade levain bread.
- Toast until golden brown or desired toastiness. (remember, good toast can only come from good bread....don't skimp on this)
- Slather each toasted slab with about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese.
- Top with blueberries and toasted walnut pieces.
- Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Now bring your honey breakfast in bed and get the day off to a proper start. 😉