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Dear Ann,

It’s been nice knowing you. I’m going to blow up the site now. Here on our pages, I’m going to advocate for a controversial cause that has nothing to with knitting. Know that I love you, but I feel strongly about this issue and cannot in good conscience remain silent any longer.

A few months ago, I read a 2015 article on Food52, How to Butter Your Toast. 

The author advocates distributing shards of ice-cold butter over a slice of bread and then bunging it into the oven (or toaster oven).

I have always hated scraping cold butter across a slice of warm toast, tearing holes in the bread and getting crumbs in the butter as I go, but this is the way I was brought up to do it. Over the years, I’ve tried various containers (the butter bell, etc.) and methods (the microwave, the warm top of the toaster oven) for making or keeping butter soft enough to spread, while preventing it from turning rancid. None were satisfactory to me, mostly for reasons of neatness and hygiene. There is no safer or more proper place for a stick of butter than the refrigerator door, in my opinion.

Initially the article in Food52 did not change my mind. Just more propaganda from the Wrong About Everything crowd, I thought. Toast was meant to be difficult to butter. We are here today because of the fortitude of our ancestors, whose toast was cool by the time they managed to get it buttered, but they carried on.

Then, one morning, I lacked the strength to confront the familiar futility of spreading hard butter on delicately crisped bread. I laid out two slices of naked bread, distributed bits of cut-up butter pats across their pale faces, and slid them into the toaster oven.

Remain calm. it looks like a lot, but This is only 2 1/2 pats of butter between the 2 slices.

The result was life-changing. Or toast-changing, but since, in the gloomy chill of morning, toast is life, my actual life is better now.

You kind of have to be here. It’s delicious. Zero scraping. Zero crumbs in the butter.

Go ahead. Pelt me with cold butter. I’m never going back. Not only does this method dispense with the misery of trying to spread cold butter, it makes much better toast. This toast has a toothsome contrast of crunchy and melty. It has tiny puddles of butter. What could you possibly not like about puddles of butter?

Please use 10 minutes of your Lazy Sunday to go try this alternative method of buttering toast, or to feel smug because this is the way you’ve always done it.

You’re welcome.




  • Do you toast the other side first? This is crucial for structural integrity of the toast, don’t you think?

    • This is an excellent question. Kay is showing the bread on a tray, but the toaster oven toasts the bottoms when you don’t use the tray. Kay, why are you using a tray?

      • The tray is for display only.

        • i can’t get over the pristine tray. Did you go out and buy one just for this shot? Mine all look like they went through a war.

  • Delicious. My mouth is watering.

  • Hmmmmm…….in the hope that you don’t pelt me with cold butter, I actually like the contrast between the hot toast and the cold shards of butter.

    • The contrast is the best bit!

  • Thanks for the memories! I haven’t had toast this way since I was a kid. This is the poor man’s Toast because we didn’t have a toaster so we used the broiler

    • When I was at home, we always toasted buttered English muffins under the broiler. Ambrosia!!!

  • But then you have melted butter seeping through your toast?… You must investigate the French way of cutting butter for tartines. You scrape your knife across the top of the butter, which will yield a perfectly thin piece of butter, which you then deposit on your toast. There is no need to smear it around. It is perfection.

    • Yes!!! Finally, someone else who understands❣

    • Yes! It works really well!

    • and so chic! (not meaning to be sarcastic, only light laughter, like perfectly browned toast, delighting in this lovely idea!)

  • When I was a kid we did this with left over bread and butter. We called it buttered-already. I love it but haven’t had it in years

    • We called it Italian toast at our house. Maybe because we always made it with leftover Italian bread. Just be careful not to use too much butter. If it drips on the heating element of your toaster oven, it causes a fire. Ask me how I know…

    • I love this poetic name.

  • I love butter. Paula Deen kind of love butter. My kids gave me a butter bell, and I found it life changing. My grandmother, who had lots of grandkids to feed and a single sllot toaster, would make toast like you describe. It was magical.

  • Will it work for English muffins? Stay tuned.

    • (Loudly) YES! Do try. Yum

  • “Toast is life.” You are my soul sister. I love peanut butter on toast. Couldn’t live without it.

  • Hard butter is a big pet peeve, so I leave it out in 1/2 stick increments to avoid the rancid problem but have it nice and soft. A few microbes are good for you! Toast either needs to be made in a toaster or the big oven on broil and it needs to be flipped. Toaster ovens are great for everything but toast. Fact.

    • My brittush bred cousin leaves butter out all the time, with never a problem. I think she puts it in fridge overnight sometimes… altho I’m sure it tastes better kay’s way, since i don’t use a toaster oven, i shall suffer with subpar toast. Wish I’d kniwn this trick years ago!

      • As a Brit I will share, the butter is kept out not in the fridge. As an old Brit, Mid-century modern one might say, I will share more; central heating was not in every house and some had a Cold Slab. In our house it was a tiled shelf in the Larder, where the covered butter was kept when not being used. You wouldn’t dream of using the butter knife for anything but buttering and learned quickly how to not transfer crumbs. The temperature in our house was perfect winter or summer for keeping the butter at the correct temperature, which might explain the stiff upper lip.

  • Yes, it works for English muffins, French baguettes, and garlic bread. I learned this from an aunt and uncle many years ago.

  • Been eating toast this way all my life,my grandmothers Madi this way. The only way to eat toast!

  • Feeling slightly smug. Only do this now and again for garlic toast on spaghetti night. Refuse to give up my toaster even though the oven toast is yummy!

  • Try sprinkling the toast with cinnamon sugar -on top of the butter chunks- and then slide it in to the oven. Heavenly…

  • Now try this with a croissant cut on half. Heaven on earth, I tell you.

  • Bread and butter, things in life that make it joyful. Mmmm butter!

  • This is the way Mama always made it, so the only way I know! But we put it on an oven rack with the pan on the rack underneath to catch crumbs. Gotta make some right now!

  • Who would have thought that toast was such a passionate subject!

  • Butter doesn’t last long enough in this house to go rancid on the counter (and my house runs cold most of the year), so even though I know I’m not moving the butter back to the fridge, I may give this a try. Because who doesn’t want a puddle of butter on a Sunday morning?

  • I spy a tray from Williams-Sonoma …. and I need to try this. Left over challah, anyone?

  • Have you seen the ButterUp knife?

    • Brilliant idea. Currently in back order until April, but I will definitely need to get one.

  • OMG, this sounds so good! I love toast. In my next life, I will open a restaurant that serves only toast. If you’ve read “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant,” you will know that the protagonist envisioned a restaurant where people could wander into the kitchen and help themselves to whatever was in the fridge, just the way people do at home. It was a special restaurant for homesick travelers. That’s the kind of Toast Restaurant I want to open. And guess what… my favorite place to go out for breakfast here in The Left Portland is a restaurant called… wait for it… Toast. (Though they do serve lots of other things.)

  • This is how my mother made toast. We never had a toaster. She would make two slices per person, put one on your plate, leaving the rest in the still warm oven until needed. Leaving it in the oven caused it to dry considerably and, by the time she finished doing her daily crossword, the toast would shatter when taking each bite.
    When I had my own place I bought a toaster. No shattered bread crumbs for me.

  • I killed my toaster and have been too cheap to replace it, so all my toasting happens on a cast iron skillet. Buttering the skillet is what I usually do, but it never occurred to me to butter the bread on the skillet. Mind. Blown.

  • What kind of bread is that? It looks delicious with or without butter.

  • And then there is the inn keeper in Portugal who serves toast buttered on BOTH side’s … magic for sure.

  • This is how my dad made toast — except he’d slide the bread beneath the broiler. Delectable. (We didn’t own a toaster in the good old days, but we had a gas stove/oven.)

    This is much better than the way I make toast.

    Now I’m hungry.

  • I will try this method in the oven (don’t own a toaster or toaster oven). I make toast in a nonstick frying pan. Put the bread on top of butter in the pan on low heat…when one side is crisp flip the bread (adding more butter if needed) and wait for the second side to toast. Delicious!

  • I was literally making toast this morning as I was reading this post. I immediately gave it a try and yes it was really good. Best all time way to make toasted bread is on a toasting fork over a fireplace. Thick doorsteps of bread and lots of butter put on afterwards of course.

  • And here I go, putting the fox in the hen house: Kay, there is an invention that means you don’t have to heat the oven. With your toaster’s help, it gives you evenly-toasted bread, and there are no crumbs in the butter! It’s called whipped margarine. (Ducks, runs….)

    • Oh no, butter tastes WAY better than margarine! You will not find any margarine in my house!

  • No one here has yet mentioned what it is this approach is best for. Bagels! When people had returned with us from some local event late at night we would fill the oven with buttered bagel halves and watch then watch then magically disappear. They not only taste better this way, the texture is better also …………… which reminds me that bagels sliced into coins and browned in butter w/, perhaps, some minced garlic, make great croutons for pea soup and other nice things.]

    • I agree this is better for bagels than a toaster, but since there’s only me I hesitate to turn on the broiler for one bagel. I usually go to the bagel place near me instead. 🙂

  • You crack me up. Thanks for a smiling-Sunday-morning xo.

  • After my first Whole30, I never went back to eating dairy. I do use home made clarified butter, which I keep on the kitchen counter. It is soft, spreadable and shelf-stable. (It originated in the very hot region of Southeast Asia at a time of no refrigeration, after all.) It is my go-too cooking fat, and it is great for toast!

  • Forget the toast business. The tray. I’m stunned by its beautiful appearance. It looks practically sterile and glittering with newness! How do you have children and a spotless tray??? Especially older and practically grown children! I’m now stomping grumpily around my kitchen, again scrubbing my tray.

    • It’s brand new because I only just learned that this type of tray comes in this perfect size. It needs some age on it to look like a Food52 photo!

  • Want lovely thin slices from cold hard butter? Use a vegetable peeler across the top. Then lay them on the bread!

    • brilliant!

  • Laughing–this post generated more comments than some of your knitting related posts!

  • I keep my butter on the counter and it has never gone rancid. It is perfect for toast buttering and creates the kind of butter pools you desribe. A butter bell also works well. But your way is definitely better than trying to spread cold butter That is indeed an insult to the toast. I think a big factor in the crunchy/tender contrast is the kind of bread you use. Some breads just make better toast.

  • I have given up on breakfast food and usually eat a sandwich for breakfast, but my husband constantly complains about his toast, which he usually burns, and toast making is an ongoing morning debate, so I made him read this. For your amusement:

    This is a joke, right.

    Do you read this every day. (Duh?)

    I think we need to get a toaster oven as soon as we get home (we are currently visiting family in California)

    You really read about toast every day (of course not, it’s aknitting blog) About toast? So who is going to get the new toaster.

    So I guess we are getting a new toaster.

  • I cannot imagine eating butter so slowly that it has a chance to go rancid. Doubly so, since seeing it on the worktop all the time reminds you to eat more butter 🙂

  • This is truly a full service site – on day we read about Carbeths and then, bam, it’s all about toast!! Keeps me coming back!

  • At first I thought, oh ha-ha,it’s a joke . . . you are kidding . . . ?
    No, you all are serious. All of you.
    I can’t believe no one has mentioned jam or jelly if need be.
    Though, it says right there “how to butter . . . “.

    Goodness, I butter my toast with preserves, jam, the thick delicious sweet, crushed fruit JAM.
    And that is all.

  • I grew up with this method. I don’t think toasters had been invented yet—we certainly didn’t have one—and I remember how unimpressed I was when I first had toast made in one (so stiff!). Of course I also thought soda in cans would never catch on because it tasted like metal. For a real treat put peanut butter or cinnamon and sugar on top of the butter before toasting. You can also use day-old biscuits cut in half. I often leave butter (and a goat cheese log) out and have never had a problem, but my kitchen is like the cold room at the uptown Fairway. For instantaneous combustion of nonsliced bread, I just stick a hunk on a toasting fork over an open flame and wave it around when it catches fire.

  • My method is to toast in the toaster, have the butter (unsalted, always) ready in thin pats, lay them evenly across the toast and pop into the microwave for no more than 7 sec. Any more and the bread gets tough. YMMV. P.S., I miss my late, lamented Viking toaster which went to small appliance heaven a few years ago. Viking doesn’t make toasters any more, I may have to get one on eBay.

  • I toast mine that way except I let the butter start to melt then spread it over the entire slice of bread, then finish toasting in the oven, set to broil@

  • Our solution? Larger household.

    We have four adults and one toddler. We leave the butter on the counter. With our adoration for the stuff, it never goes rancid.

  • I cannot believe no one has mentioned spreadable butter…

    A couple of companies make a butter/canola oil blend that a revelation for toast.

  • We have never, ever kept the butter dish and its one or two sticks of butter anywhere but on the counter, mainly because of the impossibility of spreading cold butter on anything.. And we have never, ever had rancid butter — that’s why the butter makers put salt in it, I think. (I made butter once with the kids. Didn’t salt it. It got rancid.)

  • This is always how my grandma made it when we took turns staying overnight at my grandparent’s house. It was fondly called “toast in the oven”.

  • Thank you for recommending Bright Star….really enjoyed wTching as I knit this afternoon

  • Our family distributes the butter, sprinkles on sugar and cinnamon, and slides it in the toaster oven. Heaven! Like crème brûlée topping on toast.

  • Fyi a non-butter spreadable I like is Earh Balance Original no soy. It calls itself a vegan butter. (The soy craze here is a bit misleading, in Asian cou tries they primarily eat fermented soy, which is quite different. Might explain why those who rode the American soy wagon for years ebded up with problems. Alledgedly.)

  • May I suggest that you use a vegetable peeler to get long ribbons of butter to lay over your (pre)toast.

  • Sometimes, I melt butter in my cast-iron skillet and griddle on each side. Like a grilled cheese sandwich without the sandwich.

  • Kay, this post fills me with guilt. I just had to take away my mom’s toaster oven. Her short term memory is shot and there have been ‘incidents’ in which she forgets it’s on. Once she even left the house and someone else entered to find it smoke-filled. She is royally pissed and every time I visit her, the new, standard toaster is sitting on her dining table. She says she doesn’t want it. (It’s her way of pouting.) And now she has started to make toast in a pan on the stove, which I am also going to have to disable.

    All these years she has told me she eats dry toast in the morning. I think that was a fib, and that what she is missing, is toast she made like yours. I can’t seem to find one that isn’t also an oven. They really should make a horizontal standard toaster. I think it would be a big seller. Sigh….

  • The toast photos posted here look beyond delcision. I like toast however it is buttered. Toast is my favorite food. Ever. Really. This is true even though I am now gluten free and most, if not all, of the delicious bread is filled with gluten. I am an expert on toast and butter. Two words: whipped butter. Works best on toast. I prefer Breakstone.

  • Late to the party. When I first saw the toast I was afraid the Baby Louie was going to be seen in the design of the darker parts and soon crowds would appear to worship the image (a little far fetched but I actually did think it was about the design rather than really about the toasting of the toast). But eventually Curiosity got the better of me and I find this is actually a toasting lesson. I feel your pain about the tearing of the bread. I remember those days. But being more lazy at the first light of day than culinarily discerning I now slather spreadable fake butter across a slice of my evenly or unevenly (dependent on the crotchetiness of my $10 Big Box toaster) bread and bow to quality cuisine by using Expensive Jam. Only you and Ann can make me write an entire paragraph about my morning eating habits, Kay. Non-knitters are really missing something. Thank you both – no tongue-in-cheek about that, Just happy reality.

  • And now I am going to go and have another slice of toast. But in the toaster oven. Reluctantly. And only because, like another commenter wrote, my toaster after years of hard labor, literally did just break. Be careful what you write about.

  • This has been a revelation to me! Especially for non-pre-sliced bread, like what I get from my neighbor sometimes. He is a flight steward and occasionally brings me bread from Germany or Amsterdam–the kind that doesn’t last long. I will never waste any of it again! Thank you so much!

  • it look delicious, but…I use a french butter dish and my butter is at room temperature always and never goes rancid…then I add my delicious homemade raspberry jam.

  • Cinnamon and sugar have been wisely suggested. But finely grated parmesan cheese atop the buttered cold stale bread out of the oven is revelatory with dinner soup.

  • My grandma and grandpa used to make toast like this. I am 65 now and they are long gone but I can still taste it!!

  • While this is an amazing idea, I’m going to drop a new knowledge bomb…frozen butter and a microplane grater. You’re welcome. 😉

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