I woke up this morning craving French toast. Actually, that’s not true—I woke up desperately thirsty and with a bit of a headache and as I slammed back a massive glass of water and waited for it to subside, I went onto instagram and saw a friend’s post of the challa french toast, apples, and tea he was about to have. Then I started craving it (if we’re going to do full disclosure, we might as well go all the way, no?). I also had the rest of a loaf of French bread I made on Monday, so I thought this would be the perfect way to use it up before making another loaf this afternoon. The thought of making this brunch is really the only thing that got me out of bed today (Hi lazy Sunday! I’ve missed you so much. Please don’t ever leave. Kthanksbai.)
This recipe had the added benefit of using up some of the quickly-ripening bananas that are sitting in my fruit bowl (some people call it “an apartment” but whatever). The unending snow and cold of February had me craving some warmth, and the spices, fruit, and sugar in this really did the trick.
One thing I love about experimenting with food is that I get to piece together different bits of information into an enormous mental quilt. Today’s recipe has me thinking about how French toast is part of the custard family, how it can be cooked slowly on fairly low heat, and how denser French bread that is a few days old makes an excellent sponge with which you can soak up the custard.
This recipe makes five pieces of toast, and should be fairly easy to scale up if you have more than two mouths to feed. It’s also a great one to make for the person/people you wake up beside (if you want to spend time with them in the morning).
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 2 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1/3 cup banana (mashed)
- pinch salt
- up to 1/8 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace
- dark chocolate (shaved), optional garnish
- maple/fruit syrup to taste
- butter for frying and for topping
Step 1: Make the custard
- Mix the eggs, milk, salt, spices, and maple syrup in a bowl. I’d suggest using a whisk and whipping it up for a few minutes.
- Mash the banana well and mix in with the custard.
Step 2: Soak the bread
- The density and thickness of the bread you use will determine both soaking and cooking times, so a bit of this is careful observation of the bread. If I’m concerned that not enough liquid soaked through, I’ll sometimes pour a few tablespoons onto the piece once it’s into the pan, going slowly to make sure it gets absorbed before running off onto the pan. If the bread starts to break/fall apart when you pick it up, then it is fully and completely soaked through. Depending on how you like your French toast, you may want to either aim for/avoid this level of soaked-through-ness. I’m definitely an aim-for kind of guy.
Step 3: Prep the pan
- While the bread is soaking, take a skillet/frying pan and turn onto medium-low heat (my stove goes up to 9/max and I put it between 2 and 3). Melt a good chunk of butter in the pan (1 tablespoon should be enough, but you could giv’er on this since it’s the weekend and butter = life).
- Note: butter has a fairly low smoke point, so be careful to not use too high heat or leave it on for too long with nothing cooking. If it’s starting to smoke and your bread is still soaking, take the pan off the burner, turn the heat down, or add more butter.
Step 4: Cook the toast
- Take the bread out of the custard and place it in the pan. Once the pan is full, I like to put a lid on it (literally…), but it isn’t necessary. Eggs don’t take a lot of heat to cook, and if you’re using thick bread, you’ll want to make sure that the centre cooks without the outside burning. You don’t want the inside to be soggy (unless you’re into that, in which case, you do you), so using low heat will keep things from cooking unevenly.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. The outsides should be a nice golden brown and the centre firm.
Step 5: Garnish and eat
- Add some butter to each piece, if desired (but really, do I need to remind you that butter = life? Didn’t think so), then top with syrup. I shaved some dark chocolate on top and used maple syrup, but you can easily sift some powdered sugar or add fruit butter, jam, or berries. I also like it served with fresh fruit (nectarines, in this case).
If you’re cooking for a bunch of people, you can heat the oven to 200F for a few minutes and then turn it off and leave a serving plate in it. Put each finished piece of French toast on the plate and cover with foil/an oven-safe lid until you’re ready to serve it.
Oh, and if you don’t have mace, then you should probably stop reading my blog immediately and delete it from your browsing history, because we’re through (or replace it with a bit more cinnamon and nutmeg… that works too and is maybe a little less dramatic).