Friday, April 13, 2012

French Toast

Truly, if you can’t have great French toast, make pancakes.

I always choose French toast over pancakes.  But it can’t be just any French toast.

In Hawaii the most popular French toast is made with Portuguese sweetbread.  On the west coast the bread of choice seems to be challah bread.  Both are sweet egg breads that are solid choices when making French toast.

That is, if you are going to go with the (everybody’s doing it) dip and fry technique.  I know this method very well.  Even though thick bread slices have great curb appeal.  They can be disappointing, especially when you end up with a visually edible piece that possess a dry state bread center that screams for a pool of butter and syrup to prevent dehydration.   Ok, that might be a little exaggerated.

But if you want French toast that has a moist almost custardy (similar to bread pudding) middle with crispy edges, I encourage you to think about prepping your French toast the night before.

For this batch of French toast I chose to use what was labeled “Italian White”.  It was soft but not airy with a tender crust, sliced about a ½ inch thick.  I don’t like to use sweetbread when soaking overnight because it can easily fall apart during the soaking process.  Stale (not hard) bread is best but straight from the freezer works well too.  I say this because if you use fresh soft bread the first couple of pieces will greedily drink up all the batter leaving the last pieces thirsty and dry. 

*Note -  the pieces will be very delicate, so be careful when moving the slices from the sheet pan into the frying pan.  Once they are in the pan and have had a chance to cook a bit they will be easy to work with.
I call this my blind French toast batter because you could make it with your eyes closed and it will still turn out.  Crack a few eggs, add some milk, sweeten with sugar, add a splash of vanilla (you can never have too much vanilla) a couple of shakes of cinnamon and a pinch of salt.  That's all it takes.  In my opinion, there is no way you can mess up French toast batter.

This is what I guesstimated for 8 - 1/2 inch thick slices;
eggs (3), milk (about ½ cup), sugar (about 2 Tbsp.), vanilla extract (about 1 tsp.) a couple dashes of cinnamon (about ¼ tsp.) and a pinch of salt

Evenly coat bread slices on both sides with batter.  Place in a shallow pan with room on the side to make it is easy to move the next day.  Pour whatever batter is left over the pieces evenly.  Cover and place in your fridge overnight.
In the morning...
Heat a non-stick pan over med-low heat.  Add either 1 Tbsp. oil or butter and cook French toast for 2 – 3 minutes per side or until it is a light golden brown and the centers are cooked through.  Repeat adding butter or oil as needed. 

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