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From the food editor: How to make your own avocado toast

Homemade avocado toast. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
Published Aug. 14, 2017

As a millennial, I am genetically predisposed to like avocado toast, craving it any time of day, willing to give up a limb to get my hands on some.

Is that right?

We are living in a time of peak avocado toast. And while the dish has been on menus at many a trendy restaurant for some time now, it really rose to the level of mass cultural awareness back in May when an Australian property mogul named Tim Gurner told 60 Minutes that in order to be able to buy a house, millennials needed to start saving money. And that means no toast.

"When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn't buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each," he said. "We're at a point now where the expectations of younger people are very, very high. They want to eat out every day, they want travel to Europe every year. The people that own homes today worked very, very hard for it (and) saved every dollar, did everything they could to get up the property investment ladder."

Sure, okay. Economics aside, there's no need to single out avocado toast, which, as far as trendy dishes go is actually a very solid and often delicious option. And yes, I do own a house!

Of course, the cheapest way to go about consuming avocado toast is to make it yourself, and I'm happy to report that the homemade version can taste just as good as the $19 one.

I went on a wild tear last week when I just had to have a thick, toasty piece of bread smothered in avocado. I came up with the recipe below, the utter simplicity of which proved to me that avocado toast deserves to be a star with or without all the millennial shaming.

It's a reliable recipe, but the great thing about avo toast is that it provides a relatively blank canvas for improvisation.

My No. 1 tip is to use bread you made yourself. There is simply no substitute for bread that was made 30 minutes before you eat it. Plus, you can cut it into a desired thickness. (For me, the thicker the better.)

This loaf is simple to make: In a bowl, place 3 cups flour (I use 1 ½ cups bread flour and 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour), 1 packet yeast and a big pinch of salt. Stir, then add 1 ½ cups warm water, mixing as you add. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight, or for at least 5 hours. After that time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place a Dutch oven with a lid in the oven. Place the dough on the counter and turn it over a couple of times onto itself; use some flour if it's sticky. Let it rest 30 minutes, then open the oven, carefully remove the lid from the Dutch oven and place the bread inside. Bake for 30 minutes, then take the lid off and bake for another 15 or so. (For more bread-making tips, consult Times food critic Laura Reiley's manifesto from a few years back.)

If you're going for a store-bought bread, use something dense and sturdy that won't sag under the weight of sumptuous avocado.

Also, feel free to get creative with your toppings. There's really no need to pile on, as the point is to let the avocado shine. But a little something goes a long way.

Try pomegranate seeds for something fun and unexpected, maybe with a slight drizzle of honey over the whole thing. Or how about raw sunflower seeds? Microgreens lend a subtle, earthy touch. And after working on this story, I was also inspired to douse the toast in flavored salts. Perfection.

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