So I’ve tried fancy. I’ve made overnight french toast, french toast that has 47 steps and then bakes in the oven, sandwich bread french toast… and you know what I’ve learned? Simple is better. French toast is my favourite thing for breakfast – mostly because I get to drown it in butter and syrup. It is not as heavy as a pancake and it makes a good use of leftover bread. The most important thing to know about classic french toast, (or eggy bread if you’re British) is to never, ever, under ANY circumstances, use fresh bread. It makes for soggy-mushiness that could not be characterized as toast on a bad day. It is a culinary crime. If you only have fresh and you MUST have french toast or die, toast it in the oven until it’s dried out but not hard. 10 min at 200F should do it. I have done this before and it is an acceptable substitute. For best results use day old (or a couple day old) French or Italian bread. It’s also quite wonderful with Brioche but who has leftover Brioche?
This recipe is easily doubled and is a no-brainer for brunch. It’s super forgiving, and is actually LESS work and LESS time than all those fancy bakes and make the night before dishes.
You Will Need:
- Half a loaf of day-old bread (about 8 slices – 1 inch thick)
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp of nutmeg – I really like nutmeg but you may want to cut back. Fresh ground is best.
- 2 rounded tbsp sugar
- butter for the griddle
- maple syrup to serve
In a small bowl combine cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Put aside. In a 8×8 baking dish or other shallow container big enough to accommodate your bread (don’t use a bowl, you want an even coating and you want to get the bread out of the custard quickly before it absorbs too much liquid. Splashing it around in a bowl makes it hard to get an even coat) whisk the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add 1/2 of the cinnamon mix and whisk again. You will add the remainder after the first 4 slices are cooking. I find if you add it all at once the first few slices get all the spicy goodness while the others are lacking in flavour.
Heat a griddle to 375F, or if you don’t have one you can use a heavy bottomed skillet heated on medium to medium high. You want the egg to begin to cook as soon as the bread hits the pan but not burn before the custard has a chance to cook through. Melt a small tab of butter where you will place each slice. Lay your bread in the custard and flip it to get an even coating on both sides, this should be a quick dip, then lay the bread on the hot griddle where you’ve melted the butter. Repeat with 3 more slices. These take about 3 min per side so be ready to flip. When both sides are nicely browned, remove from griddle. Add the remainder of the cinnamon mixture to the custard and repeat with the remaining 4 slices. It’s ready to serve! Smear with additional butter if you wish (I mean, you’re already breaking the bank on calories with the bread and the syrup so why not?) and pour on some maple syrup and voila! I like to pair these with some yummy breakfast sausages and some fruit for brunch. It’s a crowd pleaser!