Introduction: Mini Toasts or Emergency Dip Crackers

Having friends over and discovered that you are all out of crackers? Can't get any because the shops are shut? DON'T DESPAIR! Here's how to make some tasty mini toasts that will go down a treat.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

You will need a sandwich press, a bread knife and some bread. Day old is fine, in fact it's better if the bread is a day or two old and little dry. Really stale bread isn't so good though, because the flavour changes as it goes stale. I like to use an open cell bread like sourdough.

Although I haven't tried it, you could probably use unleavened bread like Pita as well. If you don't have a sandwich press, you night be able to use your oven, although I haven't tried it. (Edit - I have since tried it with Pita, and it is gooood. Experiment a little to get the cooking time right. Still haven't tried using the oven though)

Something to avoid is par-baked bread. Par-bake is where the bread dough is made and partly baked into loaves (hence "par-bake"), that are the right size but are still not fully cooked (no crunchy brown crust), before being frozen. The par-baked loaves are then shipped in a refrigerated container to the store where they will be sold, thawed out as required and then baked to create the crusty brown loaf that is then sold. Some large supermarket chains do this because it only requires an oven in the store and it is cheaper to hire unskilled workers than fully qualified bakers.

More on this at the end.

Step 2: Slice Your Bread

Start by turning your sandwich press on. While it is heating up, cut your bread into thin slices. Aim to get the slices 3-4mm thick. The slices will probably be a bit to big to use for dips, so cut them into handy cracker-sized pieces.

Step 3: Toast the Slices

Arrange the slices in your sandwich press. Close the press and let them cook until they are nicely browned. check the centre of the slices by lightly pressing on them. They should feel crusty. If they are still soft, they need more time.

Once the slices are crusty all over remove them, and cook the next batch. You may have to leave some of them in a little longer than the others. I usually check each one before removing it. Once they are all browned, set them aside to cool. They may still be a little soft initially, but will crisp up when they cool. It's better to let them sit for an hour or so to dry out thoroughly and crisp up before putting them into a container to store.

Step 4: Enjoy!

I love these, particularly with dips, but I have to hide them. If I leave them out on the bench, my kids will eat them all!

Now, a note on par-baked bread.

Par-baked bread is fine as long as it's fresh. It's great in sandwiches and in most cases you can't tell that it was par-baked. For most uses there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Less cost for the stores, par-bake suppliers get business and employ people, tasty fresh bread - big win all around.

Because it has been frozen, however, the gluten collapses when you try to toast it like this. The result is a mini toast that is crumbly and dissolves into mush in your mouth instead of being crisp and crunchy.

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