There are two types of people when it comes to the world of cheese toasties: the purists and the rule breakers. The purists stay true to form and don’t deviate from the classic and reliable cheese toastie that is enjoyed all around the world by the young and old. On the other hand, the rule breakers are the ones wondering whether sriracha sauce or a couple of slices of salami added in might be the new flavour of the week.
Going under various names, the cheese toastie also known as a ‘cheese jaffle’, ‘grilled cheese’ or ‘cheese on toast’ literally melts hearts and minds all over the world. Have you ever met someone who doesn’t enjoy a cheese toastie?
Although the history of the cheese toastie (or the grilled cheese sandwich) is limited, it seemed to start in the US in the 1920’s at a time when both sliced bread and cheese became inexpensive and readily available. This version called for an open faced sandwich with cheese on top, with the second slice of bread on top only making an appearance in the 1960’s.
An alternate cheese toastie gained popularity in France in the 1910’s: the Croque Monsieur. This decadent version still features in many eateries today, consisting of two slices of bread spread with Dijon mustard, ham, Gruyere cheese and fried in butter.
Fast forward to 2018 and not only is cheese toastie game strong, it now comes in more varieties than a lifetime of snacking will allow. Purists will generally limit cheese toasties to a three ingredient triple-punch-combo of bread, cheese and butter but rule breakers have been known to sneak imposters in on the occasion: ham, tomato, vegemite, salami, chilli sauce or bolognese. There’s a fine line when adding variations, so watch out before it turns from a cheese toastie into a Frankentoastie.
A traditional grilled cheese recipe explicitly calls for (boring) white sliced bread. Use a fresh crusty sourdough to maximise the “crunch” of the first few bites. Watch out for large air bubbles in the bread, otherwise you may end up with a grilled bread sandwich after all of the cheese has oozed out onto the sandwich press. Although this isn’t the result you’re aiming for, you can still take some consolation in dipping a finger or two into the river of cheese and then trying again.
This is the most crucial part of the endeavour to cheese toastie glory. Participating in the cheese toastie hunger games is only for serious contenders — may the odds be ever in your favour. Help with stacking those odds by following these three rules:
- Choosing a cheese with a low stringy melt capability will only result in disappointment. Mozarella, a mild cheddar, swiss or gruyere are some solid choices. If you want to be a fancy pants and include a bit of blue or some parmesan or a lucky dip from one of The Cheese Riot’s cheese hampers or platters then go for it, but make sure the main cheese gives an appropriate amount of ooze. A suggestion is to use a LOT of mozzarella, which beckons rule #2.
- The more cheese the better. Don’t be stingy, after all, cheese is the main ingredient. A mouthful of warm bread with a slight cheese flavour won’t win you any new friends. The worst (or best) thing that’ll happen if you overload your toastie with more cheese than the sandwich press will allow is that some will ooze out the sides and make a crunchy cheese crust. In fact, deliberately overloading the cheese a times can be a happy and delicious accident.
- Grated or thinly sliced cheese will ensure maximum cheese-melt-to-bread-cook ratio. Thick chunks of cheese will not only leave you waiting longer for it to melt, there’s a high chance that the bread may burn before the cheese is an optimum melting temperature. There’s nothing worse than biting into a cheese toastie when the cheese is only half melted. Don’t. Just don’t.
Butter vs Mayo
A debate known to divide even the best of friends, but the purists know there will only ever be one correct answer. Butter. Spread liberally on the outside of both slices of bread before cooking, this adds flavour but also gives the cheese extra heat to melt. A quality (slightly salted) butter will make your toastie super crispy and an extra depth of flavour. If you’re a rule breaker then substitute the butter for mayo, but prepare the be judged from the cheese toastie purists. Mayo does spread easier and doesn’t really burn which is good for those rule #3 breakers above, but just doesn’t win over the crispy buttery flavour.
Although loyalty to the sandwich press is strong and is a highly recommended option for the purists, the choice is yours:
Easy to use, fun for the whole family.
Can squash the bread too thin if pushed down too much and cause cheese overflow.
Able to saute in butter for extra deliciousness.
Requires more cleaning up.
Under the grill
Easy to use.
Melting can take too long with indirect head, with the toastie needing to be flipped and cooked on both sides.
Cudos from onlookers for being a top notch aussie. Can do this while camping.
Can burn too quickly without cheese melting sufficiently (we suggest using oil instead of butter).
No need to buy separate toasting appliance.
Requires toaster mastery. Don’t forget that those pesky crumbs at the bottom can start smouldering when sideways. We don’t recommend this unless you have wide toaster and are keeping an eye on it at all times.
Creates pleasant cheese waft through the house.
Takes longer than other methods.
Looks cool and is social media worthy.
Impractical and potentially hazardous.
Cooking method (sandwich press)
- Turn on your sandwich press and if it has an adjustable pressing height, make sure it won’t squash the bread into a pancake.
- Evenly spread the butter (purist) or mayo (rule breaker) onto both sides of the bread making sure it is all the way to the edges.
- Finely slice or grate the cheese of your choosing (see Cheese heading above for inspiration) and place on one of the bread slices ensuring it is buttered side down.
- Place second slice of bread on top, buttered side up. Both bread slices should now have the buttered sides on the outside.
- Place onto the sandwich press and firmly close the lid to ensure the entire surface area of both sides of the bread are in contact with the head pads.
- Cook for 4–5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread is crispy.
- Once cooked, let it rest for just long enough (but not too long) so it isn’t as hot as the surface of the sun.
- Dig in!