For my good friend CitizenE, who wishes to make delicious French toast at his bed-and-breakfast.
The golden rule of good French toast is to always use challah. Right? You know this, I know this, the whole French-toast-eating world knows this. Every breakfast or brunch place you go to uses challah. All the good recipes insist that you must! use! challah! (Or brioche, challah’s French expat cousin.) The Simply Recipes version gets even more specific:
It works best with several day old French or Italian loaf bread, thickly sliced. Fresh bread, or bread that has been sliced too thin tends to get mushy and fall apart when soaked in the egg milk mixture.
Elise, you say that like it’s a bad thing.
Every Sunday morning my mom makes breakfast. It’s the only morning that both she and my dad are around, making it a special morning indeed. When I was growing up, the meal she’d make most often was French toast. Her French toast breaks all the rules laid out above, and for my money, it is more delicious than any French toast I’ve ever had at a restaurant or diner or brunch spot. Here’s how you make it.
X many pieces whole-grain sandwich bread, where X = however many pieces your polity feels like consuming
Eggs (you should probably use organic, don’t you care about the planet?)
Milk (see above)
Butter (see above)
That’s it. No fancy business. I’ve tried to add fancy business and have never been pleased with the results. This does not need cream or nutmeg or vanilla. It needs to be left alone.
So start with your bread. You want whole-grain sandwich bread. I personally have no shame about using Pepperidge Farms bread in a bag for all my bread needs that don’t involve Italian food (getting whole-grain bread involved in Italian food never ends well), but if you have some local bakery you like, by all means, use their whole-grain bread.
Once you’ve got sufficient whole-grain sandwich slices for your assembled toast-eaters, get your batter ready. You want roughly one less egg than you have sandwich slices, though one-to-one works too. Add a very generous pour of milk – say, slightly less than as much milk as you have eggs – and a very generous sprinkle of cinnamon. You want a lot of cinnamon, guys. When you furiously whisk the whole mess up, if you don’t have both tons of wayward clumps of and loose spirals of cinnamon, you don’t have enough.
Now get your pan going. Over medium-ish, melt a pat of butter. While that’s happening, prepare yourself with your pile of bread and your bowl of egg-milk-cinnamon goop next to your pan on the stove. When the butter is melted, grab some tongs or a fork and dip your bread in your goop. You really want the goop to get in there. The bread may, in fact, become soggy or begin falling apart; this is because a magical substance we’re gonna call “the deliciousness” is insinuating itself into the bread’s very essence. Of course, it’s possible for this to happen without the bread falling apart, but if it does, don’t fret. It’s just the deliciousness. Once you’ve got that deliciousness good and in there, take your piece of bread and plunk it into the butter. Once it’s firmed up and crisped up a bit – maybe a minute or two? – flip it over and do the other side. You know it’s done when both sides are a little bit crispy.
Top with real maple syrup. No nonsense. Also good: fresh fruit. Sliced strawberries are a longtime family favorite. Also a longtime family favorite: listening to Bob Marley while you eat it. This is a guaranteed winner.