What, you may ask, is “Aga Toast?” Well, it’s toast made on an Aga.
What, you may ask, is an Aga?
Aha! That, my friends, is another tale!
This is an Aga:
It belongs to my friend Penny Lewis who lives in Abergavenny, Wales, and it’s like no other stove/oven/toaster/clothes dryer/house heater you’ve ever seen.
The original Agas were fueled with coal. My husband, Paul, who is Welsh, remembers his mother’s Aga and how the cast iron kitchen monster ruled the house. Wet towels were strung over the Aga to dry. Pots simmered, and puddings steamed. At Penny’s house this past September, even underwear and other delicates were strewn over and above the cooktop for drying.
In Paul’s childhood home, oatmeal (porridge to him) was put on top of the cooker at night, and by morning, sitting in a kitchen warmed by the Aga, a creamy, smooth, comforting bowl of warm cereal was put in front of him for breakfast. The Aga is simply a part of the family to those privileged enough to own one – kind of like a warm, gentle but steady grandmother hovering quietly in its place in the kitchen. All it needs is a rocking chair beside it to complete the picture.
Originating in Sweden, the Aga was imported into Great Britain in 1929. Operating on the principle of continuous heat input and the heat storage properties of cast iron, the Aga’s creator, Gustaf Dalén’s original Aga featured two hotplates on top and two ovens. Four and five-oven Agas are the most popular today. But let’s get back to the Aga toast…
The flat cooktop of Penny’s Aga features two huge hotplates and a griddle, sitting over five, you read that right, FIVE, ovens! Did I mention that specific cookbooks have been written to educate users of the Aga. It’s NOT like a conventional oven!
Freshly sliced bread, they call it “doorstop” slices because they are thick and heavy, are placed between the grids of a toasting basket and then are placed on top of the hotplate. Slowly, evenly, and more slowly, the toast is … toasted.
Maybe it’s the slow heating of the grain, maybe it’s the allure of the Aga, but magic is created when the golden slices of toast are removed from the basket, slathered with farm-fresh butter and eaten in the cozy comfort of a Welsh breakfast room. Add to the ambiance a view of sheep grazing on the green mountains in the background and you’ll have a picture-perfect setting for your morning treat.
Simply stated, Aga toast is a state of mind.