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Best French Toast Ever

I've promised a friend that I will make her the best french toast ever. I'm not looking for anything fancy -- nothing stuffed, just a very custardy french toast. I'm assuming the secret is to leave the bread (challah, I suppose) in the egg/milk bath for a long time (overnight?). Comments? Suggestions?

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  1. While I agree that a bread pudding or breakfast strata might be best left in the refrigerator overnight, I don't like soggy french toast so I simply dip it lightly immediately prior to placing it in the pan. I like to use a variety of flavorings and spices when mixing the batter, and my batter uses a ratio of five eggs to 3/4 cup of whole milk, 1/4 cup fresh cream or sour cream.
    Flavorings include, among others, vanilla extract, coconut extract, orange extract, maple, sugar, cardamon, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg.

    1. I use a sturdy Italian loaf, thickly sliced, and let it sit in the custard for 10 minutes per side. (Don't try this with sandwich bread!)

      1. Here are my thoughts:

        1. Use a good hearty slightly stale bread, challah is good as is Texas Toast.
        2. Add some cream or buttermilk (or even eggnog) to your egg batter
        3. Don't soak overnight.
        4. Use a cast iron skillet (if you've got one)
        5. Use bacon fat to fry the toast.

        1. a longish soak, but not over night. i like the 10 minutes per side suggestion. i zap my egg mixture in the blender to make sure i get rid of the long stands of egg white. i also tend to treat the cooking process as if dealing with custard rather than frying. think medium-low heat so you end up with a custard-like offering, set at the center, rather than fried bread.

          for the above reasons i really think french toast lends itself beautifully to a baked treatment. although, i guess it's no longer "french toast."

          and just out of sheer curiousity how did it come about that you promised your friend something that's not actually in your repertoire? sometimes the back story is as interesting as the question.

          6 Replies
          1. re: appycamper

            Well, you could brown it on the stove top, then finish cooking it in the oven. Seems like a great way to do French Toast for a crowd.

            (BTW, appy, do you camp with your Apaloossa, or does your moniker mean something else?)

            1. re: pikawicca

              lol! yes, when i started using the name i was spending most of my time with my appaloosa. and i having a rather disgustingly sunny disposition and it's also a play on the term "happy camper." are you a fussy wiccan?

              good idea on finishing in the oven, btw. i do it all the time with meat dishes but hadn't thought it for french toast.

              1. re: pikawicca

                Alton Brown did this on Good Eats.
                http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                You've got some great advice here. Use stale challah or brioche, half-and-half, and vanilla. Also try adding a splash of your favourite liquor (orange and almond flavours work well). Baking results in a more custardy texture.

              2. re: appycamper

                Tell, me about baking the french toast -- that sounds custardy. Back story --my friend is navigating a rather serious physical disability and had talked about how much she loves a good custardy french toast. I'm spending the night as a caretaker Friday night, so I thought I could make french toast for breakfast. I thought I would take her out for dinner Friday night, but she wants to stay home and have "comfort food" so another dilema has presented itself. ...ideas for quick and easy comfort? She mentioned meatloaf. I probably won't be able to start dinner before 6, and I can't start ahead tonight....I'll see if she considers tuna noodle casserole comforting. By the way, I can make french toast, it just isn't life altering.

                1. re: hungry100

                  it's a nice thing you're doing. i like the longer soak rather than a quick dip for the bread. you get something more like bread pudding or creme brulee than fried bread. so mix 2 eggs and 1/2 - 3/4 cup milk or half and half and a teaspoon of vanilla extract and pick another flavoring if you want (cinnamon, orange, rum whatever) i don't use sugar in it unless i add cinnamon then maybe a tablespoon of sugar. others have suggested good bread choices: brioche, challah, italian something with some texture.

                  soak for at least 5 minutes each side. you'll probably need to use a spatula to move it into the pan. cook on med/low until lightly browned. then slip into a greased baking dish. when you have all your pieces in the dish. bake in a 325 oven until the centers are set.

                  or just grab a bread pudding recipe and do it all in the oven.

                  i like to melt some apple jelly into the hot syrup.

                  make supper easy on yourself. i know it's heresy but take the help that's out there. i suggest a family size stouffers mac and cheese. when it's cooked enough that you can stir it mix in some shredded ham and thawed frozen peas and put it back in to finish and brown. easy and gives you time to visit.

                  1. re: hungry100

                    if you want to do meatloaf, maybe do individual mini meatloaves to speed up cooking time, just shape them and bake on a sheet pan... while they bake, mash up some spuds and roast some green beans with garlic and sliced almonds if you like. serve with strawberry shortcake (buy angel food cake or the little yellow cakes (comfort food to me, esp if you pour a little milk on the cake to make them soft and custardy!), some whipped cream, some strawberries and you're good to go!)... you're doing a good thing, and i'm sure she'll appreciate whatever you do!

                2. The best I ever made was with sliced brioche, which i bought at Trader Joe's, and dipped in an egg and heavy cream mixture, scented with a little vanilla extract and a little almond extract. very simple, didn't let it soak much, the brioche picked it up pretty quickly. What came out was the lightest, most custardy and fluffy french toast I'd ever had.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    mariacarmen, this sounds like heaven on a plate to me!