Sue’s Kitchen – Making Toast Under The Grill
Using a grill pan in the grill compartment of the cooker is the traditional and original way to make toast. Although thought by some to be a little slower than an electric toaster, it is still perhaps the more versatile for its ease when making toasted sandwiches, browning thicker bread, muffins and other products which need regular observation and a more varied heat setting.
The grill can also come in handy as its a much healthier and safer way of cooking than frying things like bacon, sausage, chicken, fish etc.
Sue’s Kitchen – Selecting And Using The Right Equipment
Most ovens, whether split level or free standing, have a grill compartment, positioned either above the oven cavity or at eye-level, over the hob, the temperature of which is usually controlled by a rotary knob situated either on the oven’s front panel or on the upper outer edge below the eye-level grill.
First of all, examine your grill compartment and grill pan while they are still cold. Slide the pan out and you’ll notice that it is wide and fairly flat, with either one central handle or two handles, one at either side attached to the front edge.
It will probably have a removable wire mesh rack and another slotted tray to use when grilling other foods. You are going to use the wire mesh rack to toast your bread, it has an open construction which will evenly distribute the heat, to give even browning.
Examine this rack carefully and you may feel small protrusions or flanges on one side at each corner, put it flat inside the pan with these facing down. This raises the rack slightly so that the heat can permeate above and below the rack.
Practice taking the grill pan in and out of the grill compartment,, making sure that its sitting level, and that it is secure. To do this, stand centrally in front of the grill, Hold the handle of the grill pan in one hand, use your free hand to locate the ridges or slots inside the compartment, there may or may not be more than one position or slot. Bring the furthest edge of the pan up to your hand where it has found the slot, put the end of the outer edge in the groove, remove your free hand, then slide the pan in by gently pushing it away from you.
You will find, with practice, that if you get one side to slide in, provided that the pan is straight, the other side will find its correct level position. When you have the pan in straight, keep gently pushing the pan away from you until you feel and hear it touch the back wall of the grill compartment. If you do this you’ll know that it has engaged properly and won’t slide out. When its in place, you can let go of the handle and examine the pan to check that it’s sitting correctly in the grill compartment.
The position of your grill pan may need to be altered according to what you’re cooking, the thicker the product you are toasting, the lower the pan and heat setting may need to be.
Try taking the grill pan in and out without having to touch the slots inside the grill. You’re probably thinking that I’m putting far too much emphasis on practising this while everything is still cold, but please remember that the grill pan and interior of the grill compartment will be very hot when the heat is turned on. So this makes it very important that you should be confident and proficient now.
The grill compartment probably has a drop down front. This is very useful as it can act as a platform to rest the pan on while you practice sliding it in and out, coming into its own again, when your grilling, and having to remove the pan regularly to check on your toast.
Using The Grill
While the grill is still cold and when you are quite confident in using the
grill pan while its empty, take two large slices of bread, put them on
the rack in a central position and practice the above procedure again, but this
time don’t touch the inside of the compartment or the outside edges of the grill
pan. Take the pan in and out, sliding the pan right out onto the drop
down door, or well out away from where the heat source will be. It will
help if you hold the pan handle all the time even when you touch the bread,
because when the pan is hot, keeping hold, or constant contact with the handle
all the time, will prevent burns, spillages or the possibility of you having
any accidents. Locate the bread with your free hand every time you have
the pan sitting flat, safely well away from what will be, when the heat is on,
a very hot grill pan and grill compartment.
Marking the grill control
If you are going to use your grill to toast or cook a selection of products,
right from thin sliced bread, through to teacakes, muffins, croissants, and
other foods, you might need to mark the heat control knob. Use bump-ons
or Hi-marks to denote the appropriate settings, these are stick on dots
or lines that can be seen or felt. With the knob at the off position,
put one dot on the top edge of the knob with another on the cooker facia immediately
above it so that there are two dots close together in a line running vertically.
By marking this position, you will always know when the grill is turned
off. More dots can then be placed on the cooker facia at the appropriate
settings to suit the type of bread or products that you are toasting. Now,
as you turn the knob round, you’ll notice that the reference dot on the knob
will line up with your marked settings making it easy to turn the control back
to the off position. You may have to alter these heat settings
initially until you have things toasted or cooked to your liking.
Buying the right bread
When you have familiarised yourself with the grill pan, grill compartment
and cooker control while everything is still cold and turned off, and
you’ve had a practice run with some bread in position, its time to decide which
products you want to toast. There are dozens to choose from, but I would
begin by trying a medium sliced large white loaf of the type of bread specifically
produced for toast, then once you know which grill position, heat setting and
how much time it takes to toast this, you can go on and try other breads, as
well as using the grill to cook many other foods.
With the mesh rack in the grill pan, put two slices of bread on top of the
mesh so that it is sitting centrally. slide it into position, not
too near the top of the compartment, then stand in front of the grill, keeping
your hand on the pan’s handle. Turn the heat on to fairly low and start
You will notice that warmth will begin to come from the interior of the grill
as it gets hotter and hotter from inside at the top. Use your nose at
first to distinguish the doughy warm bread smell. Every 30 seconds or
so, slide the pan out onto the drop down front, then press the top surface of
the bread with your fingertips to check how brown and well done it is getting.
The harder the bread becomes and the less it gives, the browner the toast
is. Your nose will tell you if its becoming too brown.
Turn the bread over when the top surface is brown or hard enough, then repeat
the toasting process for the other side. Unlike a toaster, the grill only cooks
or heats from above, making it necessary to turn most foods half way through
their cooking time. Always turn the bread over while the grill pan is sitting
flat, safely well away from any heat source. How
well done you like your toast is personal preference, of course, and experience
in using your grill, combined with exact timing and adjusting heat settings
will give you your perfect slice of toast.
Have a warm plate ready to put your toast onto and soft butter or margarine
of your choice to spread on to it. Dot the surface of the toast
with your spread and use a flat bladed knife to distribute it over evenly, giving
the bread a quarter turn as you spread for best even results.