Arthur Sheekman’s Cinnamon Toast, Circa 1943

When I was a child, my father made me two things for breakfast according to his mood: Mashed Eggs and Cinnamon Toast.
Mashed Eggs were a Clean Out The Icebox sort of dish…chunks of salami (sometimes Daddy absent-mindedly left the papery covering on)…cheese (often Liederkranz, his favorite, oh so stinky and no longer made in this country, alas)…orange glints of lox (he used cream cheese with the lox, thank heaven, not Liederkranz)…and pickled onions (he sliced up onions, covered them with his notion of a pickling solution, kept them in a jar in the fridge)…lots of salt and black pepper. All were beaten together in a soupy mix of eggs, scrambled over slow heat in an astonishing amount of butter in his favorite skillet, then poured (Daddy liked his eggs s*o*f*t*) onto the plate. I never really liked Mashed Eggs, but I was also so charmed and complimented that my father wanted to cook for me, I ate them with a smile.

What brought a genuine smile to my face was Daddy’s Cinnamon Toast. It’s so simple a concoction, one tends to forget about it–at least, I do, for years at a time. But this morning I was seized by the need to taste it again. I made it in two versions, one with granulated sugar, the other with powdered sugar. As I suspected, I liked the one with powdered sugar best. In the heat of the broiler, some of the little white balls firm up a bit and they are crunchy when you bite them, yum.
I’ve just Googled recipes for Cinnamon Toast, and I’m surprised to find no one makes it the way my father did. Most recipes want you to mix the cinnamon and sugar. No. The beauty of the toast, I feel, is the snowy (when you use the powdered) sugar under rich reddish brown drifts of cinnamon. When the golden butter bubbles up beneath, your cinnamon toast is not only fragrant but beautiful.
So here is my father’s cinnamon toast.

Per serving:
1 large slice good white or wheat* bread
About 1 tablespoon soft butter (it was always salted butter in those days)
1 very heaping tablespoon (about 4 teaspoons) confectioner’s sugar
Best quality cinnamon from a shaker top
Heat the broiler while you toast the bread as usual…not too dark.
Quickly spread the toast with butter, completely covering the surface.
Use a spoon to sprinkle over the sugar, completely covering the butter.
Shake on cinnamon in drifts over the sugar–be generous.
Place under the broiler until the butter bubbles–the sugar begins to caramelize–and you can smell the cinnamon, about one long minute.
Serve at once, especially to a child.
*Rye and sour dough flavors don’t blend as well with the cinnamon.

3 Comments. Leave new

  • My mouth is watering!

  • Oh Sylvia, you take me back to my youth. In Home Ec in junior high school, they taught us to make cinnamon toast in the oven for over 20 people. And yes, sugar and cinnamon were mixed. Did they envision we’d be doing this to hostess teatimes for ladies clubs? I’ve never had occasion to use the skill acquired. I’ll take your recipe for just one good slice!

  • David O Thompson
    January 8, 2022 3:47 pm

    I can’t wait to make one!


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