Tales of the Toaster Oven

November 2nd already? 4 weeks of classes left?

I’m a happy college student.

And an even happier baker.

This is without a doubt my favorite time of year to be in the kitchen, for obvious reasons. Seasonal fruits, warm spices, and hot chocolate in heavy mugs add a little something special to the season.

Normally, I’d be baking at least two pies a week to satisfy my extremely demanding autumn sweet tooth.

Baking requires an oven, yes?

Here’s my problem. My oven doesn’t work.

How’s that for irony? Anna Claire without an oven. Just the thought makes me chuckle.

I discovered this soon after I moved to Auburn in August. I was having separation anxiety from baking, since it had been almost four days (gasp) without picking up a whisk, spoon, mixing bowl…anything.

I turned my pantry upside down searching for ingredients. “Cocoa powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, WHERE ARE YOU HIDING?” I thought.

Then reality hit me square in the face. I have to actually purchase ingredients in order to bake.

But I was lazy back then. In the corner of my eye a box of brownie mix appeared. Although it was sinful and completely against everything in which I believe, I mindlessly picked it up. I was baking brownies that day. Period.

As I proceeded to crack eggs, measure water (It couldn’t even be milk, Betty Crocker?), and spread the batter into a pan, I noticed the “preheated” oven wasn’t so hot. I didn’t think much of it, since that thing was probably thrice as old as me. Patience. So I slid it on the rack with very high hopes and a very empty stomach. Thirty minutes was just enough time for me to finish up some Chemistry homework.

The time finally came.

I joyfully grabbed my mitts and opened the oven door, only to find a wet, unbaked pan of batter.

How was this torture happening to me.

What did I ever do to deserve this.

I’m not what you’d call a handy-woman, but I did know that a light was supposed to be on inside the chamber—a detail I failed to recognize thirty minutes earlier.

“Good bakers improvise,” I thought.

I reached above the refrigerator for the toaster oven, which had undoubtedly seen the days of World War II, or possibly as far back as the stock market crash. Which would explain why the heat setting on it doesn’t work. It’s basically off, or set at 450 degrees. But it was worth a shot.

I very optimistically gave it a shot.

Seven minutes later, in the midst of educating myself on chemical equations, I smelled something. And it wasn’t chocolatey brownies.

The smoke poured out of that toaster oven like a chimney in January.

Seven minutes is all it took for that dreadful appliance to turn my brownies into a smoking, burned rock. I believe I shed a tear. And then quickly left to buy cookies at the market.

Serves me right. That’s what I get for baking brownies from a box.

Since then, the toaster has been a bit more benign towards me. It’s never done my sister, Sarah, wrong though. She must have the magic touch with archaic appliances. Congratulations.

So now you know why I made a no-bake pie yesterday. Creativity is key.

And it’s also the reason I made this today:

Single slice with apple

A new show on Food Network, Heartland Table, inspired this recipe. Maple Butter Toast with Brie and Apples.

Are those angels I hear?

This is quite possibly the most delicious non-pie snack I’ve ever tasted.

Thankfully, I had a little company during my maple-butter experiment.

Meet Joey, my brother, Robert’s, basset hound.

one with joey

Joey likes Aunta Claire’s cooking.


Sit, Joey.

sit more

Sit more.

good joey

That’s a good girl!

that was good

I’d venture to say that Joey approves of maple butter toast.

i love you aunta claire

I love you, Aunta Claire.

Gee, I love you, too, Joey.

If Miss Joey likes it, I’m sure you will, too.

Here’s how you make it:

Maple Butter Toast with Brie and Apples


½ cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons butter

Pinch of salt

8 thin slices bread (I used a baguette. Sourdough works, too. No pre-sliced bread!)

Spray oil for the plate

1 small disk of Brie cheese (or Camembert)

1 Granny Smith apple


Over medium heat, warm up a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron). When it’s pretty hot, pour in ¼ cup of maple syrup, 1 ½ tablespoons butter, and a pinch of salt. Let the butter melt, and add 4 slices of bread to the pan. Flip immediately, coating both sides with the maple syrup-butter mixture. Flip the slices frequently with a butter knife, making sure to absorb all of the mixture. When the bread begins to look toasty and lacquered (it doesn’t have to be hard, just shiny and toasted) remove from pan and place on an oiled plate to cool. This is when the bread will become nice and firm, just how we like it. Repeat with the remaining slices.

Cut a wedge of cheese and smear into the toast. Top with small dices of apple, if you’d like. I love the bit of tartness from the apple to cut the sweetness. I tried it with a Honeycrisp apple, but the flavor and texture gets a little lost in the cheese. Go with Granny Smith.

Serve immediately—great for entertaining!

Word Document:Maple Butter Toast with Brie and Apples


2 thoughts on “Tales of the Toaster Oven

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