Sunday, June 14, 2009

Granny Knott's Baked Toast

High Country Fall was published in the summer of 2004 and featured Deborah Knott’s twin cousins, who want to own and operate a tea room, capitalizing  on some of the family recipes. 

Dorothy Sayers referred to Busman’s Honeymoon as “A Love Story with Detective Interruptions,” and High Country Fall could have been described as “A Detective Story with Culinary Interruptions.”   I’ve never had so many requests for recipes, especially the recipe for Granny Knott’s baked toast, a homely dish created out of necessity.  Here it is again for all of you who missed it the first time around.

Really, this is nothing more than French toast baked in the oven, but Kezzie’s mother never heard of French toast and she was way too busy to make individual servings or to measure anything.  She cooked “by guess and by golly.”  When hens nearly stopped laying in winter, this was her way to stretch the eggs at breakfast time and to use up the old bread at the same time.  Proportions will vary according to the number of mouths to feed.    I usually cut one-inch slices from loaves of bread with some body to it: sour dough and whole wheat work well and so does Italian bread.   Figure 1-1½ eggs for every cup of milk and proceed thusly:

Butter a large casserole dish (approx. 9 x 12") and cover the bottom with a thin layer of brown sugar (a little over one cupful).  Melt a stick of butter and stir in a quarter-cup of honey, maple syrup or molasses, then drizzle that over the layer of brown sugar.  Lay inch-thick slices of  bread  atop the sugar, leaving no spaces between.   (Tear extra slices to small pieces if needed to fill in the cracks.)Beat up three eggs and two cups of milk with a healthy dash of vanilla and pour over the bread slices, completely covering them.  Sprinkle on a little more brown sugar and drizzle melted butter over the top.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, bake in a moderately hot oven for thirty minutes or until the sugar caramelizes on the bottom and the top is well browned.   An inserted knife should come out clean.  Serve immediately to 6 hungry people.  (Do not ask about carbs or calories!)

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