Since February 2011 Uther Henge has been thrilling visitors to St. Michael’s Tower on top of Glastonbury Tor with his lecture Toast, the Tor, Past Present and Future that leads visitors through the historical artefacts on display – a variety of gas and electrical toasters that have been used since 1912, and includes advice on modern toast-making techniques.
But it appears that mothers are reporting that their children are distressed by the section dealing with mystical foodstuffs.
Jenny from Glastonbury said; “The display is very informative. At last I understand why toast is depicted in the Glastonbury coat of arms. And since I learned the Uther Henge Flip I’ve enjoyed evenly browned toast every day. But while I was enjoying the lecture I hadn’t realised my son was looking at the interactive display that explains the mystical qualities of Welsh Rarebit. He hasn’t slept since, and panics every time I go near the grill.”
Uther Henge has promised to remove the Welsh Rarebit display until it can be made more family friendly, explaining; “Really this display was aimed more at people who want to be students in the mystical food science department of the Mystical University of Glastonbury, so it focuses heavily on kitchen safety. The interactive display shows what can happen if you mistakenly include Mozzarella in your cheese mix – it can give your Welsh Rarebit qualities similar to napalm. We now realise that the scenes showing kitchen staff dousing one of their colleagues with fire extinguishers may not be suitable for all audiences.”
The traditional method of toasting. You simply adjust the toaster setting so that it pops up cooked to perfection. At least, that’s the idea. The reality is that several factors usually result in very uneven toasting.
Basic toaster settings
No special training required
Uneven toasting (unless you use the Breville Toastmatic 4000)
The first level of advanced toast-making. The toaster is set to half the standard setting, and when it pops out midway you rotate the bread horizontally before reinserting for the second stage.
Consistent toasting on both sides
Top of bread often toasted more than bottom
Inexperienced users can burn their fingers at the midway stage
Basic training required
The Uther Henge Flip (mid-stage vertical rotation)
The pinnacle of practical toast-making. This is a simple improvement over the horizontal double insertion method. The introduction of a vertical flip creates fantastic toast.
Consistent toasting top to bottom on both sides
Resetting toaster to half the single insertion value confuses other toaster users who have to be forcefully inducted into the ways of the Uther Henge Flip.
Horizontal rotation followed by vertical flip followed by second vertical flip
This over-elaborate method of toasting results in the most consistent browning but is so complex that most people get worse results than the traditional single insertion method.
Incredibly even toasting
Requires quadruple insertion
Many novices fail to observe the rule that bread should be inserted either once, or an even number of times, but never an odd number, unless of course you introduce a final finishing off phase to remedy any inconsistencies
Setting the toaster becomes very complex
Toaster needs to be reset for subsequent slices to prevent over-cooking
Constant monitoring necessary to avoid burning
Many people forget how many toast rotations they have performed because they are distracted by other events in the kitchen
Factors to consider
Is your bread sliced by hand or machine?
Hand-slicing is less consistent than machine-slicing and the raised areas can become especially burnt. But you may be able to spread more Hobgoblin Marmalade on hand-sliced bread because it has a greater surface area. Experts call this the Goblin Ratio.
Is the bread thicker at one end than the other?
This can have a massive impact on the flow of hot air through your toaster, disrupting your calculations. You may be wise to set some time aside for wind-tunnel testing if your slices of bread are particularly wedge-shaped.
Who is Uther Henge?
Uther Henge is the chief mystics consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor. If you visit St. Michael’s Tower on top of Glastonbury Tor you can experience the Making Toast Through The Ages display at which Uther Henge gives a twice-daily lecture Toast, the Tor, Past Present and Future. Henge invented the Uther Henge Flip during one of his lectures when he realised that this unintuitive method of rotating bread resulted in a better and more consistent slice of toast.
Today OAP Percival Angstrom was welcomed back to Glastonbury Tor at a reception arranged by Chief Gatekeeper Titania Bonham-Smythe. This followed his dramatic airlift in January when he was discovered unconscious in St. Michael’s Tower.
Angstrom was presented with a basket of new age products from the National Trust gift shop at the tor, including a delightful selection of lentil tea and Hobgoblin Marmalade.
But the highlight of the event was when the plucky pensioner was given the Vortex Award – a special cut-glass trophy in the shape of St. Michael’s Tower inscribed with his name. It means he joins a very prestigious club that only has eight other members.
Bonham-Smythe explained; “We have now deployed each of the thousand hand-painted signs we received as part of the annual shipment from head office. When Mr. Angstrom visited the tor last month there were still some signs that were not in their correct place, and the particular No Entry sign he encountered on the wrong side of the main door to the tower almost caused him to come a cropper. The St. Michael’s vortex is something that members of the public shouldn’t be too concerned about though. It is very rare, and usually there is a member of staff on hand to step in and help using the special anti-vortex equipment.”
Before leaving the Tor, Mr. Angstrom was shown the display Making Toast Through The Ages that was installed in St. Michael’s Tower as part of the cleanup operation following his vortex. Unfortunately the event was cut short when a slice of toast became wedged in a Toastmatic 4000, setting off the smoke alarm.
A new display Making Toast Through The Ages opened today in St. Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury Tor. This follows the cleanup operation that was necessary following the recent no entry vortex encountered by Percival Angstrom.
This fascinating display charts the development of toast since medieval times. Delicious toasted wholemeal bread has always been part of Glastonbury’s history – indeed it appears in the town’s coat of arms. The Domesday Book refers to the toasted sustenance that pilgrims enjoyed in the town of Glastonbury before making the final barefoot ascent to the tor summit. Visitors to the display learn that no mention is made of butter or marmalade in those early times – these innovations were to arrive in the early fourteenth century during Edward II’s reign.
Sponsored by Breville, the display includes a variety of gas and electrical toasters that have been used since 1912.
The most compelling part of the display is the lecture in one corner of St. Michael’s Tower by Uther Henge, the top mystical consultant at the National Trust who leaves his duties at the gift shop twice a day to fascinate visitors.
The lecture titled Toast, the Tor, Past Present and Future leads visitors through the historical artefacts on display, and includes advice on modern toast-making techniques. For example, visitors are taught the “double-insertion method”, in which they learn how to set the intensity level for their toaster to half its normal value, and flip their toast half way through the process, leading to an incredibly evenly browned surface.
Such techniques are not necessary when using the Breville Toastmatic 4000 which uses modern technology to dynamically brown the surface of bread and deliver a perfect slice of toast every time. This is one of the models of toaster available in the gift shop as you leave the tor.
Uther Henge commented “Obviously safety is first and foremost for us. When they enter the display area we issue visitors with safety goggles so that there is no risk of toast popping out of toasters and causing an injury. We also confiscate any knives we find during our routine search because there have been incidents where people have inserted them into the display toasters to try and remove bread that gets stuck.”