Random Acts of Breadness baker and owner Randall Michael Tobin often shares his own suggestions for making the most of his breads, including giving out his favorite stuffing recipe to customers who buy Breadness’ special thick-sliced stuffing loaves during the holiday season. But the relationship goes both ways; he’ll also solicit feedback on new creations — like offering samples of two different versions of his December special GingerBreadness sourdough to find the right balance between sweetness and spice — and ask for photos and “tastimonials” of how people are using Breadness products in their own culinary creations. It’s the kind of creative give-and-take that’s been inspiring him since his earliest baking days, when a neighbor he happened to meet while on a walk around the block recommended a cookbook that led him to the idea of making sourdough pizza. “Once I learned how to make the crust (it takes four days) and how to cook it (in a skillet, partly on the stove and partly under a hot broiler), a whole new world opened up to me,” he recalls. “My wife and I agreed this was the best pizza we’d ever had. And so did our friends who happened to come over at the right time. I also took my ‘mobile pizza kit’ to friends’ homes and made four-course pizza dinners for them, including a dessert: apple pie pizza!”
Not everyone can devote that kind of time and planning to making pizza from scratch — not even Tobin, with his busy entrepreneurial life these days. “My meal schedule is all over the map,” he confesses. “Sometimes I don’t get to eat ‘breakfast’ until late afternoon!” That’s why he devised a toasty open-faced melt to enjoy at home and with friends as “a fast and easy way to hint at sourdough pizza. Once you know the basic recipe, you can change cheeses, toppings and spices. The main difference is that with the pizza, there’s a good amount of high-heat cooking going on, whereas with the cheese melt, it’s in the oven for about five minutes. You don’t get the chewy crust of the pizza, but you get that same sourdough flavor and melted cheese.” You can experiment with adding other toppings once it comes out of the oven — Tobin suggests avocado slices for “a cheese melt/avocado toast mashup.” It’s a perfect quick and cozy lunch to whip up during the hectic holiday season, or pair it with a steaming bowl of soup for a comforting dinner on a chilly evening.
Breadness Artisan Sourdough Cheese Melt
If you don’t have a toaster oven, this can be adapted for a traditional oven. “Since the cheese melt is made in a shallow pan, it can go under an oven broiler element, but do take care to check it after a minute or so, as broilers get pretty hot!” Tobin notes.
2 slices Random Acts of Breadness Organic Traditional Country Sourdough Loaf
Goat cheddar or Italian truffle cheese (available at Trader Joe’s) or fresh Asiago (available at Whole Foods), sliced about 1/8 inch thick, enough to cover each slice of bread
1 strip pastured bacon (optional)
Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle (available at Whole Foods) to taste
Organic smoked paprika to taste
- If using bacon, have 1 strip precooked and cooled for every 2 slices of bread. Cut bacon crosswise into ½-inch pieces.
- Arrange two Breadness slices in a large baking dish that fits in your toaster oven. Having the two bottom crusts touching and offset usually makes an efficient fit.
- Arrange cheese slices in a single layer on the bread slices, being careful to keep all of the cheese within the crust edge. You may have to break slices into smaller pieces to cover completely.
- Dust cheese with Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle.
- Lightly dust with organic smoked paprika (a little goes a long way!).
- If using bacon, arrange pieces across the two slices, leaving space for the cheese to melt.
- Place baking dish in toaster oven and set to toast for 5 minutes. This will heat the top and bottom of the dish. Depending on your toaster oven and the distance the top heating element is from the cheese, you may need to heat the dish more or less than 5 minutes. The toasting is done when the cheese has melted. It may or may not bubble, depending on the cheese.
- Using oven mitts, remove baking dish from toaster oven and place on a heat-safe surface. Use a spatula to gently remove bread slices from dish and transfer to a plate. If there are any loose spices in the bottom of the pan, tap them over the hot slices.
- Serve immediately (but make sure the cheese has cooled enough so as not to burn your mouth!).
For more about Random Acts of Breadness, read “A Toast to Giving.”