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What is Melba Toast?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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Melba toast is a thin, crisp toast that is now packaged and sold in stores next to crisp breads and crackers. Auguste Escoffier, a friend of Swiss hotelkeeper Cesar Ritz and his wife, Marie Ritz, created it when Marie commented that she could never find thin enough toast. Escoffier originally called it "Toast Marie" after his friend's wife, but renamed it "Melba" toast when he was working with Cesar Ritz at London's Savoy Hotel and Dame Nellie Melba was staying there.

It was reported that singer Dame Nellie Melba ate the toast regularly when she was sick in 1897. Helen Porter Mitchell is the real name of Dame Nellie Melba, who formed the surname of her stage name from her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Peach Melba is another food that was named after the opera star. Apparently, Marie Ritz, understanding the hotel business, did not mind having the name of "Toast Marie" changed. After her husband Auguste died, Marie ran Paris's Ritz Hotel.

Nutritionally, Melba toast is usually low in fat, cholesterol and calories and is said to be a great source of the mineral manganese. It is often good for those on low sodium diets as unsalted versions are available. Cheese is a popular accompaniment to the toast, and together they form a complete protein source. Its neat, compact size makes it fun for appetizers, and toppings such as egg, hummus, shrimp, mushrooms and smoked salmon are just some of the delicious possibilities.

Cooks can make their own Melba toast using very thinly sliced bread that are flattened with a rolling pin. The crusts should be removed. Herbs such as dill and thyme can be mixed into butter and then spread onto both sides of the bread. The bread should be toasted for about 15 minutes at a 350°F (176.6°C) oven, turning once, until it is lightly browned.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon146806 — On Jan 27, 2011

I agree with anon44269. Glad to get a straight uncomplicated answer! Thank you

By anon135193 — On Dec 17, 2010

Melba toast was first invented by toasting normal bread, splitting it, and toasting each half on the split side, so that is what you were asking for. Nowadays melba toast is made completely different commercially, and some would argue that it's not real melba toast -- just some sort of cracker, and thus many recipes you find are trying to duplicate the commercial version, not the original.

By WaterHopper — On Jul 13, 2010

I usually serve Melba toast when I have guests over for a brunch. I buy a loaf of French bread and slice it into ¼ inch slices. Then I spread butter over them and sprinkle them with Parmesan cheese. I put it on a cake rack on top of a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes. Delicious!

By anon44269 — On Sep 06, 2009

Thanks for telling me plainly how to make Melba toast, as all the other cook books start with nonsense about toasting bread and splitting it. That isn't what I asked for and I thank you for being straight forward with what I wanted.

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