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3 Tricks for Heavenly French Toast

When I was a kid the way my mom got me—a hard-core picky eater—to eat eggs (and absorb all their nutritiousness) was to make French toast. Several times a week she’d dip slices of bread into an eggy batter, fry them in butter, sprinkle them with powdered sugar and then cut them into “little soldiers”. Lucky for my children she now makes French toast for them, even on a school day she will spoil them with this breakfast treat!! (It pays to live with grandma). On the weekends I like to make French toast as well, and I think after discovering a version that ran in that nebbish cookery publication Cook’s Illustrated for “Better French Toast”,  I’ve figured out a few tweaks that will send anyone’s regular old bread into breakfast heaven…

How To Make Heavenly French Toast
1. Use challah bread. If you can get your hands on a loaf of challah I think it’s by far the best bread to use. It’s dense, uncluttered by nuts and grains,  rich with eggs, and pretty—let’s face it this braided loaf was made for French toast (and the sabbath).
2. Toast your bread. This might seem obvious (it is called French toast) but most people just dip bread without drying it out first. Cook’s Illustrated suggests placing the slices of bread (about 1/2 inch thick) on a baking sheet and drying them out in a 300 degree oven, but I just put my slices in the toaster and lightly toast (you don’t need them to be browned all over, just dried out a bit). This way I don’t have to turn on my oven and I can make the toast as I dip and fry.
3. Use just egg yolks. This was an important revelation. I had always whisked whole eggs but using just yolks is even better, it provides richness without sogginess.

And here’s how you make it:

-For four slices of lightly toasted challah you will whisk together: two large egg yolks, 1 cup warm whole or 2% milk, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter, big pinch of salt, and 2 tsp of vanilla.
-Place egg mixture in wide shallow plate, like a pie dish, and then soak one slice of challah toast at a time in the mixture. Let toast absorb mixture for about 20 seconds and then flip to the other side (use a spatula, a fork or your fingers might tear it).
-Once second side has had time to soak, remove and place on a dish and repeat with second slice of challah.
-In a large skillet melt a tablespoon of unsalted butter over medium-low heat. Swirl melted butter around pan and then place the two pieces of soaked toast in the pan. Cook on first side until golden brown (about 5 minutes) and then flip and repeat with second side. Keep slices warm while you cook your remaining two slices.
*Summer fruit-side bonus: before you start your toasting and soaking, take 2-4 pieces of stone fruit (nectarines, plums, peaches) and pit and slice them into a bowl. Drizzle with maple syrup (that’s warm or at room temperature) and a healthy squeeze of lemon. Mix well and let sit while you make the French toast. When serving place a spoonful on the plate or on top of your French toast, whichever you like.

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