On the weekends growing up, either at our house or a friend’s house, we had French toast. I remember the mixture of cinnamon, egg, milk and bread cooking in the buttered pan. The aroma was unmistakable. I decided to start my first blog with this nostalgic toast recipe. I have not made French toast in a LONG time. I do remember the tendency I had to burn French toast (and most other types of toast) growing up, but I think I finally have the right touch.
French toast, at its most primitive, is egg soaked day old bread fried up in a pan with butter. There are many variations that I have used before. One key ingredient is the day old bread because it is just dry enough to soak up the egg mixture. You can use anything from white, to wheat, to sourdough. In this batch I got some soft fresh French bread from the bakery and had them cut it for me to 1 inch width. I set it out on a baking sheet a few hours before I needed to use it. It would be best left out over night and used the next morning, but I don’t always think that far in advance. If you have fresh bread it is fine to use but I would suggest not soaking it as long and being very careful because it will fall apart more easily.
Another basic recipe of French toast is just adding cinnamon and milk to the egg mixture to create fluffy cinnamon custard for the bread. I decided to try a new recipe below that called for lemon zest as well. Yes, lemon zest! I was a little skeptical, but I had a lot of bread, eggs, and milk to work with so I figured I would give it a try. Let me tell you. It was DELICIOUS!
“Perfect French Toast”
As adapted from Marthastewart.com and Alton Browns French toast from foodnetwork.com
6 large eggs
1 ½ cups of milk or half and half
¼ cup orange juice (or the same amount from a fresh orange)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg from the pantry)
Pinch of salt
6 slices bread, such as brioche or French bread, sliced 1-inch thick, preferably day-old
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Syrup or powdered sugar for serving
Whisk together eggs, milk, juice, vanilla, sugar, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
Place bread in a shallow baking dish large enough to hold bread slices in a single layer. Pour egg mixture over bread; soak 10 minutes. Turn slices over; soak 10 minutes more or until soaked through.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet, and set aside. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a skillet heated to Medium or Medium low. Fry two slices of bread at a time until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to wire rack on the baking sheet. Wipe skillet, and repeat with remaining butter and bread. When all of the browned bread is on the baking wire rack, set the wire rack in the oven to continue cooking the French toast for about 5 minutes. Serve warm with powdered sugar and/or syrup.