Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Toast water: the new green tea?

I’ve just been experimenting with what must be the most frugal drink of all: toast water which is, exactly as described, water infused with a slice of toast. It’s actually rather nicer than it sounds - it has a faint caramelly flavour which I think I’d want to accentuate by infusing two slices of toast in the recommended amount of water but that would obviously be rather less thrifty.

I found out about it from my son Will's business partner Huw Gott who masterminds the menus at their four bars and restaurants which include Hawksmoor, The Marquess Tavern and Green and Red (quick opportunity for a family plug!) They’ve just acted as consultants to a new restaurant opening, The Vyse Room at Stoke Place in Stoke Poges, which features toast water as a sorbet.

Huw is a great one for scouring old cookery books and discovered the recipe in Mrs Black's 'Household Cookery and Laundry Work' from the late 1880s (Mrs Black being a teacher at the 'West-End Training School of Cookery' in Glasgow).

Here’s the recipes with my comments in italics.

"Toast the quarter of a slice of bread (wasn’t sure how big a slice so used a whole slice from a small white loaf) till it is quite brown in every part wthout being in the least burned.
Have a jug, with three breakfast-cupfuls of cold water in it (I reckoned this was about 450ml in total) in which put the bread, and allow it to stand for a few hours.
Hot water is frequently used instead of cold, but the water is scarcely so clear and nice. In this case it must cool before being used.
The water is put in the jug first and the bread put in, otherwise the bread gets crumbled.
It is a most refreshing drink."(Huw says, and I agree, that it needs to be served well chilled).

Apparently the recipe was designed for invalids and in the proportions given I can imagine it being just the thing if you had a virulent attack of gastro-enteritis and couldn’t keep anything down. But I think if you tweaked it, possibly using wholemeal bread, a second slice and a spoonful of honey to sweeten it it would be the perfect drink for a sweltering summer afternoon. Non-alcoholic drinks are apparently the Next Big Thing. Perhaps it will take off as the new green tea ;-)


Silvana said...

What an idea! We are off to Stoke Poges visiting friends this weekend so with any luck, we might get a chance to try that sorbet.

Fiona Beckett said...

Hi Silvana - try it and let me know what you think. Apparently there's a herb sorbet too . . .

Anonymous said...

I remember buying a very old cookery book in a 2nd hand book shop many years ago, one of the recipes in was toast water, and yes, it was for invalids - my husband and I laughed about for weeks - who would drink toast water in this day and age we asked - just shows how anything can become fasionable again - even toast water.....

Fiona Beckett said...

Well I doubt if it will take off in a big way ;-)

Hippolyra said...

I am really wondering about this one? Surely it cannot actually taste good?

I will have to try it at the weekend.

Fiona Beckett said...

Hi hippolyra. I think 'good' is probably overstating it. 'Refreshing' is probably a better description. Have to say I wouldn't mind a glass at the moment. It's currently 33°C in the shade down in the south of France. (Not that I expect a whole lot of sympathy about this!)

Anonymous said...

Toast & water was indeed a cure for common ailments in the 19th century and special jugs called nursing jugs can be found. Spode apparently made some with the words toast and water on them. These jugs look very like ordinary jugs but with a strainer in the lip.
The latest news about crusts being good for you makes you wonder if the old ways are not so strange after all!