French Toast Christmas Morning
My job is Christmas morning brunch. I'm going to do French Toast and am interested in anyone's favourite recipes. Generally I use egg nog to soak the bread with a little rum in it. Any variations on that theme? The bread is always a challenge. What is the best bread to use for French Toast? Looking forward to the responses!
Best bread: Challah or egg bread; holds up well to the eggnog/batter, crisps up very nicely.
Variation: Add orange juice and almond extract to the traditional egg/milk batter. Toasted almonds sprinkled over top.
Personally, I like fresh banana bread or pumpkin bread or even raisin cinnamin. And then I caramelize some bananas and make it really delidant. Some times, I like to "stuff" the french toast.. so its kinda like making a french toast sandwhich (you dip it in egg etc as usual and fry) and then you put two slices together with some fruit and maybe some caramel or other flavoured cream cheese and bake at 350 until it all kinda melts together.
This will likely be moved to the Home Cooking board...
I suggest using a challah loaf (not the braided kind) or a brioche loaf to go really decadent. You can also use, say, a cinnamon loaf if it is solid. Cut the bread at least an inch thick and leave it exposed to air to harden slightly. (If it gets really stale, it will take much longer to absorb the liquid and it won't come out better.)
The recipe below is adapted from one published in Cooks Illustrated several years ago. It is the best one I've found.
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted cultured butter, melted
3/4 cup liquid (I use 18% cream but eggnog is fine. If you use prepared eggnog, I find President's Choice superior to all others)
1-3 tbsp flavouring (rum is fine with eggnog; with cream, I like 1 tbsp vanilla and 2 tbsp orange liqueur)
2 tbsp sugar (using cream; with eggnog, I don't know how much sugar to suggest)
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 slices bread as noted above
- Whisk together the egg, melted butter, milk, and flavourings. Then whisk in the sugar, flour, and salt. Keep mixing until the batter is very smooth. I've never used a processor, but it would probably be fine.
- Soak the bread slices, turning occasionally, until each slice is saturated with the batter.
- Brown on both sides in a hot pan using more unsalted butter . It usually takes a couple of minutes per side.
You can leave the bread soaking in the batter overnight. However, if there is too much liquid relative to the bread, the slices may dissolve.
It is possible to cut a horizontal slit in each slice and stuff it with some cream cheese and/or fresh fruit slices.
The cooking takes a bit of practice. Ideally, you will get a slightly crisp exterior with a creamy custard centre. (This resembles the French toast served at the Noshery on Eglinton for anyone old enough to remember). If you use clarified butter coming halfway up the slices to brown the French toast, it gets even better, but you'll be adding a gazillion fat calories that aren't REALLY necessary.
Why not save yourself some time and energy and make pain perdu? Take day old bread (I use thinly sliced baguette, but you could get creative here & use challah or whatever - anything crusty would be good). The night before, stack it up in a 9"x12" baking pan, pour over your usual french toast mixture (eggs, milk and whatever else you like!), cover, and put in the fridge. In the AM bake in the oven at 350 for 30-40 min until set and lightly browned on top.
- homemade creme anglais (I use the recipe from epicurious.com with real vanilla bean) &
- raspberry coulis (take a package of frozen raspberries, thaw in a bowl on the counter, blend gently with an immersion blender or hand mixer [careful not to break seeds - they are the bitter part]. Make a sugar syrup by heating 1/2 c sugar & 1/2 cup of water in a pan - heat until just starts to boil then put aside to cool. In the meantime, strain the raspberry puree through a seive or cheesecloth to get out most of the seeds. Add the sugar syrup ~1 tbsp at a time to taste.
After the pain perdu is done, cut into squares and serve topped with the creme anglais , raspberry coulis and a touch of maple syrup. Your guests will love you forever. You can make the 2 sauces a day ahead and keep in the fridge.
To give them credit - I made this up after tasting the pain perdu at Pain Perdu on St Clair W!
This method is certainly easier than mine, though you'll get a bread pudding rather than French toast. If you go this route, I'd suggest sticking with the baguette rather than using challah. I don't have a recipe to contribute for pain perdu, but I wonder whether separating the eggs and beating the whites might have a nice result.