Does YOUR family make anything like the Tasmanian favourite, Savoury Toast?
I’m not talking about Welsh rarebit (which is pre-cooked and contains beer) or Cheesy Toast (Stephanie Alexander’s famous and much-loved recipe from her Richmond Hill Café and Larder.)
I’m talking about good old fashioned melty cheese mixed with sauces/relish and spices, piled on sliced bread and grilled/baked until bubbly and a bit golden/burnt. (Sometimes with egg or ham or bacon, often not.)
I grew up with Savoury Toast and it’s a life-long favourite to be turned to when things are tiring or overwhelming or a bit chilly out. Some say that Savoury Toast is a Tasmanian quirk of cheesy weirdness. I like this idea, but I suspect that other states and territories have something similar on the menu, albeit closeted away and eaten from the kitchen table on crisp mornings or chilly nights.
I’m not the only Tasmanian turning to Savoury Toast (or as my family call it Cheese Spread On Toast.) Last year the editor of the Illawarra Mercury Julian O’Brian wrote about his nostalgic pandemic longings for ST. I must say his toast looks delightfully rustic … and you can find the recipe for his crowdsourced version of “heaven on earth” here. #Bacon-y
ABC Radio Hobart also ran a segment about Savoury Toast a wee while ago, chatting to northern Tassie local Ange Wilson about what makes this toast such a firm favourite. Ange mentioned that she does hers in the OVEN and that she often has it cold. On a boat. Imagine it?! #Inspiring
After the segment, the ABC were hit with a swathe of delighted and wistful comments from toasty cheese enthusiasts. Some offered recipe tips, others pointed readers to various Tasmanian cafés where Savoury Toast is still on the menu. #Helpful
There are other recipes on forums and in chat groups across the internet, if you’re keen to diver deeper.
When I was researching ST I found a recipe for something called Tomato Cheese in the Esk Valley CWA Cookbook. I think it’s a cousin of the usual Savoury Toast as it explores similar themes although it’s a pre-cooked mix, like Welsh rarebit.
In my family, I THINK the recipe originated from my paternal grandmother, Nanna Icky. My aunty sent me Icky’s handwritten recipe for Savoury Toast which seemed to point to that.
The recipe was then tweaked and riffed-off until it had morphed into something that would warm your insides on a wintry morning (while possibly burning the roof of your mouth, if you were too quick and greedy!)
It wasn’t written down, but my brother recreated his version of our family’s Cheese Spread (aka Savoury Toast). My first version of his recipe is in my book Craft For The Soul and it’s very good, I must say.
When I moved back here I was determined to dig deeper into ST and tweak that recipe further. I came up with something that truly, rooly does resemble the ST of our childhood. One that my Mum scored an 11 out of 10 on the Cheese Spread ranking.
Here’s how to make it. Be warned, it’s not for the delicate palate.
How to make Pip’s Savoury Toast
Makes enough to top 10 slices of bread
250g of mozzarella cheese, grated
250g of mild cheddar cheese, grated
250g of tasty cheese, grated
2 tablespoons of tomato relish
250ml of tomato sauce (or ketchup)
150ml of BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons of Keen’s curry powder (or similar)
1 tablespoon of Keen’s mustard powder (or similar)
1 tablespoon of mild paprika
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of white pepper
Mix together. Spread on sliced, buttered toast bread and grill on the ‘toast’ setting in a toaster oven so both sides toast simultaneously. (OR grill one side of the bread, then flip it over and spread the cheese mix thinly across the un-grilled side. Then grill until bubbly.) It’s quite important that it burns a tiny bit, so just keep that in mind.
Once you have made the mix and tried it on toast, you can adjust it to taste by adding more cheese or curry powder or salt … or whatever. Our family occasionally added mashed potato to the mix. Sometimes even egg. We always had ours HOT and grilled or toasted – on sliced white bread – in the toaster oven. None of this baked palaver, but YOU DO YOU Savoury Toast fanciers. Bake if you want to!
There are clearly recipes for Savoury Toast tucked into family recipe books across the state. Possibly across the country. Perhaps you have one you’d like to share? Please DO! You can add it in the comments or email it to me? Maybe I can make us a booklet of Savoury Toast recipes?!
Of course, you might find all this chatter quite perplexing and wish you had never heard about Savoury Toast. I understand this too. Feel free to scratch your head and wander away …
Or read on and come over to the spicy, cheesy side? That could be grand, too! You won’t regret it.