How to Make the Perfect Piece of Toast, According to Science

Apparently, there's a lot more to it than plopping your bread in the toaster and plugging it in.

iStock/john shepherd

Americans like their toast. In fact, 71 percent of us who regularly eat bread like it warm or toasted, says market researchers NPD Group (yes, people actually study this). So, if you’re going to eat that much toast, you might as well do it right. That’s where British food researcher Dr. Dom Lane comes in. He and his team spent one whole week toasting and tasting 2,000 slices of bread so you don’t have to, as the Daily Mail reported. Here’s his recipe for Toast a La Science:

•   The perfect piece of toast starts with a pale, seeded, loaf that has been refrigerated at a temperature of 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
•    Keep a ruler nearby because you’ll want to measure the thickness of the bread, which should be 14 milimeters, or 0.551181 inches.
•    Set the toaster to produce a temperature of 309 degrees.
•    With stopwatch in hand, cook for 216 seconds. This will lend the slice a golden-brown color and ensure the ultimate balance of external crunch and internal softness, which means the outside will be 12 times crunchier than the middle.
•    Once you’ve removed the toast, quickly add butter. Do you have a scale handy? Good. The ideal amount of butter is 0.44 grams per square inch. Quick, grab that ruler again, because in another report on the subject, Leeds University food scientist Bronek Wedzicha contends, “The amount of butter should be about one-seventeenth the thickness of the bread.”
•    Cut your slice of toast immediately! We mean it. Stop reading and cut the toast already! And cut it on a diagonal. We’re not sure why, but do it anyway. Then serve the toast on a plate warmed to 113 degrees Fahrenheit to minimize condensation beneath the toast. IMPORTANT! Don’t let the plate get too hot, or the toast will continue to cook and ruin your scientifically perfect piece of bread.
•    Now sit back and enjoy your toast. And put a napkin on your lap, you’re going to be covered in crumbs.

Sources: The Daily Mail, www.agr.gc.ca, the BBC

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest
Andy Simmons is a features editor at Reader's Digest.