Ree Drummond Has A Problem With The Way We Make Cinnamon Toast

Toasted bread spread with butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar is a practically perfect food — unless you ask Ree Drummond. The pro chef has very strong feelings about this basic version of cinnamon toast, calling it "just plain awful" on her blog The Pioneer Woman

Her main complaints about classic cinnamon toast are that the butter does not properly melt into the bread, the flavors aren't distributed evenly, and you miss the opportunity to create a caramelized top. "It's the wrongest. The most wrong. The Wrongalongadingdong," Drummond writes. Once you try the chef's recipe for this simple treat, you might some choice words for the cinnamon toast person you used to be, too. 

Drummond's recipe aims for an even distribution of fat and flavor, with bread that is well-saturated with butter and has a lightly crisp top. Despite being leagues better than a basic version, her cinnamon toast technique is really no more challenging. It takes a bit more prep work, but uses the same ingredients. The rewards are well worth the minimal effort.

How Ree Drummond makes her ideal cinnamon toast

Instead of dusting cinnamon-sugar on top of buttered toast, Ree Drummond makes a sweet, spiced spread by combining softened salted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and one non-traditional ingredient — vanilla extract. Vanilla offers an extra boost of aromatic sweetness that elevates the flavor of the cinnamon butter from good to great. Salted butter is also a great idea, as salt makes any food taste more like itself and can bring out the depth of simple ingredients. It also adds a welcome contrast to the rich butter and sweet cinnamon. If you don't have it on hand, you can easily turn unsalted butter into the salty variety

Making a separate cinnamon butter also ensures an even distribution of flavors. Sprinkling cinnamon and sugar directly onto toast can leave you with some bites of plain, boring bread, and other bites full of overwhelming cinnamon spice. Buttering and then toasting the bread in the oven is really where the magic happens. The result is a delightfully decadent but deceptively easy confection that has a caramelized sugar crunch over soft, buttery bread, heavy with a warm cinnamon aroma.

Can Ree Drummond's cinnamon toast get even better?

Part of the draw of cinnamon toast is its super-simple deliciousness, but it also makes a nice canvas for customization. Ree Drummond's addition of vanilla adds depth, but does not overpower the cinnamon, sugar, and butter. You can achieve a similar vibe with a dash of nutty almond extract, or try changing up the sources of sugar and spice.

Drummond's recipe is heavier on the sugar and lighter on the cinnamon, but if you want the spiced flavor to come through more, you can up the amount of spice. Or, incorporate just a touch of other warm spices like ground ginger, clove, nutmeg, or allspice. Adding more than a dash or so will change your cinnamon toast into a more generic spiced toast, but maybe you want a more dynamic flavor, anyway.

When it comes to the sweetener in the cinnamon butter, many kinds of sugar besides the standard white kind will work. Opt for demerara or turbinado when you want a more noticeable crunch and a subtle caramel flavor, or use brown sugar for its molasses notes. The bread is another opportunity to have some fun. Pretty much kind will work, including spongy sourdough, a hearty seeded loaf, eggy challah, sweet raisin bread, or chewy bagels. You could even slather a slice of delightfully lazy cake mix banana bread with cinnamon butter, and pop it in the oven for a truly special sweet treat.