Wednesday, January 30, 2013

French Toast

My parents used to make french toast a LOT on Sunday mornings for breakfast. If we weren't having pancakes, it was french toast. I'll just remind you that I used to despise pancakes and now let me share some new information: I used to despise french toast as well. There was just something about the eggy soggy white bread that did not appeal to me. The problem with my parents' french toast was the texture and quite possibly the taste, as they only used 3 ingredients (bread, milk, and eggs) and no seasonings. Seriously, no seasonings! No cinnamon or sugar or salt or vanilla - it was just a vessel for maple syrup, which is something I don't really like either.

As is my solution for many things I dislike, I decided that I'd tackle the beast myself and if at that point I still didn't enjoy it, it was going on my list of things I despise and refuse to eat (along with pickled horseradish, cauliflower, and people who don't know the difference between "your" and "you're"). Well, obviously I liked it, because otherwise I wouldn't be posting about it, right?

Ingredients:
bread (something hearty like sourdough or french baguette)
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
butter (for cooking)
+ 1 cup strawberries
+ 1 teaspoon sugar
+ 1 teaspoon honey
+ powdered sugar

*You may end up doubling the custard ingredients depending on how many pieces of toast you're making.
This step is purely optional. If you are allergic to strawberries or you hate them or you just don't currently have access to any that are fresh and sweet, please skip.

Start with some clean, rinsed, and drained strawberries. Remove the stems and slice them.
In a bowl, combine the sliced strawberries with honey and sugar. Stir and then set aside so they can macerate (i.e. release their juices and get all yummy).
Now onto the actual french toast. Start by slicing the bread into thick pieces. I like 1/2" thick at least. Using a nice hearty bread is better (in my opinion, of course, because this is MY blog) because it maintains some integrity and texture and structure, even after being drenched in eggs and milk.
Assemble a stack of bread and set aside.
Next, get a wide dish - one that is large enough that you can comfortably dip the bread into the custard. In the dish, add in the egg, sugar, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and milk and then whisk everything together using a whisk or fork.
Dip the bread into the custard and let it soak on each side for at least 5 seconds to allow it to soak up some custard.
Then, in a skillet - I used cast iron because it holds onto heat well and I wanted a nice and crispy exterior - melt a little butter. Once the butter starts to brown, add your toast to the pan. Allow to cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until they're golden and lovely.
Look at this awesome before and after shot! Looks good, right?

Plate the finished toast and dust with powdered sugar.
And then top with the macerated berries (and maple syrup if you wish). I love this french toast because the bread has texture - it has crunch, it's chewy, it's soft - and because it's sweet. It's essentially like a simplified bread pudding and I think it's great. So next time you host brunch, I say you whip up a batch of these and impress the heck out of your guests.
Here's the recipe page:

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