Toast is just toast right? I for one have always scoffed at toast recipes; if you need help making toast then there just may not be any hope for you in the kitchen or elsewhere. Yet since toast is trendy, there’s no shortage of recipe roundups and guides if you really are toast deficient—and to be honest there’s one necessary type of toast recipe which might just be the trendiest of them all: avocado toast.
Sure, you might think it’s as simple as some bread and some avocado, but you would of course be wrong. It’s important to learn the art of avocado toast from the masters: the Aussies. If the U.S. is the land of pancake breakfasts, then Australia is the land of avocado toast; any cafe and restaurant with even a moderately respectable reputation will have it on the menu. Take a long black and a plate of smashed avocado toast and you have yourself a morning meal. I mean, brekkie.
After having made my way through an innumerable amount of avocado toasts in Australia—all in the name of research of course—I decided it was time to talk to a professional. Dylan Johnson at Paramount Coffee Project in Sydney was kind enough to sit down and chat with me about all things avocado toast.
While it’s hard to say who started the avocado toast trend, Johnson was quick to point out how much it has changed over the last decade. “The first cafe I worked at ten years ago got annoyed if you mashed it up,” said Johnson—those were the days of the delicate avocado slice. Such genteel days are long behind us.
At Paramount Coffee Project, where the avocado toast is simple yet refined—avocado on rye with dukkah and feta—Johnson says that it’s their best selling dish. People tend to “scan a menu for recognizable things,” says Johnson, which makes it no surprise that nearly every coffee shop in Australia has it on the menu.
But you don’t have to head to an Aussie cafe to master the art of this classic brekkie. After weeks of research and with the help of Johnson, I have come up with my Definitive Guide to Making Avocado Toast.
Because avocado has a pretty subdued, clean taste, you want something to offset that, which means that you want to choose bread that’s denser and more flavorful. Think breads like rye and sourdough. Given avocado’s smooth texture, Johnson says the bread should “definitely be toasted”. This also gives you the delicious combination of different heat levels; the cool avocado contrasts well with warmth of the bread.
So how do you properly mash an avocado? “Smash it up… don’t go easy on it,” says Johnson. You can do that with a fork, or even your hands if you’re making a huge serving (just be sure your hands are clean). Johnson even recommends going at the avocado with a big mortar and pestle.
Now here is where you can really get funky. As Johnson says, “avocado is a pretty tame flavor… it lends itself to additions.” At Paramount they throw in a little lemon juice when they mash the avocado, which gives it a bit of acidity. Dukkah is a popular topping—this condiment hails from Egypt, a blend of finely chopped nuts and spices—way more interesting to sprinkle on avocado than boring old salt and pepper.
Purists often prefer just toast and avocado, but the gourmet crowd may add a poached egg (you want the yolk runny), cherry tomatoes, greens or even some sort of salsa. You’re pretty much only limited by your culinary creativity.
Now, I wouldn’t be a proper food/coffee/travel journalist if I didn’t leave you with my favorite avocado toast discovery. It was recommended one morning in the kitchen of a friend’s house.
“Have you tried vegemite and avocado?”
My first vegemite toast-making experience had of course failed miserably on account of not realizing that vegemite isn’t meant to be spread like jam. Once I mastered the a lot of butter/a little vegemite ratio, things were much better. But now, I was being goaded to throw avocado into the mix. Result? Perfection, even if you hate vegemite.
Avocado and Vegemite Toast
One slice of bread, preferably sourdough
Toast the bread and spread liberally with butter. Carefully spread the vegemite on top so as to just have a very thin covering. Using a fork, mash avocado on top of the vegemite.
Serve with your coffee of choice and consider yourself one step closer to Aussification.
All photos by Anna Brones.