You’ve got to give credit to the French. Even their toast is fancy.
French toast is one of those things that’s easy to make, but with just a few little tweaks it can be transformed from the pedestrian to the profound.
For this recipe, I used this fabulously simple French bread recipe I discovered last week. I like the way the slices are smaller and roughly oval in shape than traditional, box-shaped French toast.
Finally, the biggest and most significant difference is topping it with confectioner’s sugar, whole butter and real maple syrup, as opposed to the maple-flavored syrup most commonly found in the breakfast aisle of your supermarket. I’ve already published one tirade on this travesty, so I won’t repeat myself.
Let it suffice to say that 100% real maple syrup is to a commercial “syrup” what swimming in the sea is to dipping your feet in a motel swimming pool. One can be life-transforming while the other is usually disappointing and possibly dangerous.
By the way, in France, they don’t call this dish “French Toast” or even “Our Toast”. They call it ”pain perdu”, which means “lost bread,” probably referring to its usually being made with day-old bread that is beginning to go stale.
I used fresh French bread and it was epic. The exterior was crispy and sweet and the interior was almost creamy.
8 slices French Bread, about 3/4″ each
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Skim Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 TBS Vegetable Oil
1/2 TBS Whole Butter, plus more for topping
100% Pure Maple Syrup
1. Put cast iron pan over a medium heat and let it get hot. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla.
2. When pan is hot, add oil. When oil gets hot, add the pat of butter and swirl around in the pan. Both the oil and the butter add lubrication to the pan, but the butter adds flavor to the French toast. Don’t let the butter get too browned or else it could give a burnt taste to your food.
3. Dip the bread rounds in the egg mxture and allow it to soak up some of the liquid, then place in the hot pan, being careful not to splash yourself with the hot oil. Cook until golden brown on one side, about 1 minute, then flip over and cook until golden brown on the other side.
4. Transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Garnish the plate with some sort of fruit, such as a fanned strawberry or sliced bananas.
Serve French toast with unsalted butter and the syrup on the side, both preferably at room temperature if you can remember to take them out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before service.
There are so many variations on French toast that it’s almost like a personalized dish. Some people add cinnamon, nutmeg or even salt to the batter while others stuff their French toast with fruit purees, whipped cream or even peanut butter.
In the New York City area, it is sometimes common for Jewish-Americans to use challah bread leftover from the Friday Sabbath dinner to make French toast on Sunday morning.
When I worked in restaurants, I would always use Pullman loaves sliced extra thick — sometimes called Texas toast or Greek toast — and then cut them on the diagonal after frying them on the skillet so they would look more attractive on a breakfast buffet.
However you make it, French toast is a great way to turn an average morning into a special occassion.