Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recipe: Perfect French Toast

Over the weekend, my dear older sister was visiting from Chicago. If we're giving credit where credit is due, then major kudos go out to this lady who has made the drive to Indiana to visit me more times than anyone else (parents, of course, excluded from this count) since I moved. We always make a point to go out to one of several fantastic restaurants while she's in town. Our other tradition is staying in on Sunday morning and making breakfast. This always includes some sort of breakfast carb (pancakes, waffles, french toast, etc.) and deviled eggs.

"Why deviled eggs?" you ask? "Why not?" we respond. We don't typically see them except for Easter and Thanksgiving if we're lucky, so we've made it our own personal tradition to whip up a batch every time she's in town. Because they're tasty, that's why.

Now to do a complete 180: let's talk about french toast! I love deviled eggs, but I'm not totally sold on the recipe I was raised on. Don't get me wrong, they're delicious and addictive and even better when they're oddly colored because they came from dyed Easter eggs, but they're also the only reason I have miracle whip and yellow mustard in my fridge. I'm convinced there's a different (not saying better) way, so the deviled eggs are still on the drawing board for now.

On to the toast! (For real this time)

I call it Perfect French Toast not because I am so conceited that I think I make perfect recipes (though, I must say that my french toast beats the pants off Mark Bittman's version) but because my trusty taste tester, The Vegetarian, told me that I was not allowed to change anything about it because he liked it so much in its original form. It's the only time he's ever forbidden me from elaborating on what could be improved upon next time, so I'm leaving it. For now...

Perfect French Toast:

3 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp. vanilla
6-8 slices of day old french bread
  1. Whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla together in a shallow casserole dish until well combined.
  2. Place a griddle on the stove over medium heat.
  3. Soak slices of french bread in the egg batter, allowing them to absorb the batter. Turn them over in the batter to ensure both sides are well-coated.
  4. Place 3-4 slices of bread on the griddle at a time and allow to cook for around 2 minutes on each side. Before flipping them over, sprinkle with cinnamon.
  5. Flip the toast slices over and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes or so.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for the remaining slices of bread and serve immediately.

Helpful hints:

  • The older the bread, the better. The "perfect" version was made from a boule that was about four days old. I used day old sourdough for yesterday's version. If you have to use fresh bread, toast it in the oven to dry it out a bit before using it.
  • The longer you soak the bread in the batter, the further into the bread it will absorb (and the older the bread, the better it will absorb). I'd recommend soaking for a few minutes on each side.
  • If you aren't serving these immediately, toss them in the oven to keep warm. Unlike pancakes, french toast responds to this treatment quite favorably.
  • Instead of syrup, try topping with agave nectar. It's a natural sweetener that has none of the red number 40s and high fructose corn syrups that are found in so many commercially available pancake syrups.
  • If you need more batter than is made here, but not so much to double the recipe, add 3 Tbsp. of half and half for each additional egg you toss in.

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