Milk toast is just what it sounds like -- toast with milk on it. In the 1800s and into the mid-1900s milk toast was a popular food for the ill and infirm. It was what you gave to a child with a cold, someone with an upset stomach, or your old great-uncle Edwin who was going to kick off any moment now. It was supposed to be easy on the digestive tract, and comfort food to boot.
These days we don't hear much about milk toast, probably due to the fact that store-bought bread makes a rather unpleasant goo when soaked with milk. But if you would like to try this traditional dish with some homemade bread, here's how you do it.
Tem42's Milk Toast Recipe:
- Toast some bread.
- Spread butter on the toast.
- Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
- Warm some milk in a small bowl.
- Dip toast into milk, and enjoy.
Or, if you prefer, here's a somewhat more traditional recipe, for the ailing:
M.F.K. Fisher's Milk Toast Recipe:
MILK TOAST for the Ill, Weak, Old, Very Young, or Weary.
From An Alphabet for Gourmets, 1949.
- 1 pint milk, part cream if the person is not forbidden that.
- 4 slices good bread, preferably homemade.
- Sweet butter, if butter is allowed.
- Salt, pepper, if not a child or very ill.
Heat the milk to the simmering point. Meanwhile have ready 4 freshly toasted slices of bread. Butter them generously. Heat a pretty bowl, deeper than it is wide. Break the hot buttered toast into it, pour the steaming but not boiling milk over it, sprinkle a very little salt and pepper on the top, and serve at once.
These days the 'sugar and spices' variety of milk toast is much more common than the salt and pepper sort. It is still common to break the bread into the milk, and soak it thoroughly (Tem42 does not really like this method. It gets all sludgy).
These days, milk toast also has a (very minor) place in our cultural and literary milieu in that it gave rise to H.T. Webster's cartoon character Caspar Milquetoast, who in turn gave rise to the word milquetoast. As milk toast is a mild and rather gooey food, a milquetoast person is a rather mild and spineless. Milksop also has the same meanings, in both the culinary and psychological senses.