Cooking 101: French Toast
With chilly weather in our midst and colder weather approaching, there is one comfort food that no one should miss out on – french toast!
While not french and not made with toast, this artful combination of bread, egg and spices turns out a hearty, filling and delicious breakfast. Perfect for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, snow-days or cheering someone up, there are as many ways to take french toast to the next level as there are varieties of bread and spices!
French Toast – A History
This famous food is actually shrouded in a haze when it comes to its exact origins and history. Before it gained the title, similar recipes were enjoyed around the world. These variations can be traced back as far as the ancient Romans who enjoyed bread soaked in milk (sometimes egg as well) then fry it in oil or butter. In the 15th century you find an actual French toast recipe called “pain perdu” which translates to “lost bread” because stale bread was the base of the recipe. The French toast we know and love today still has this title in France.
Why then do we call it French Toast? According to legend, an innkeeper in Albany, New York by the name of Joseph French created the dish in 1724. His attempt to advertise the food with his namesake failed due to grammatical error when he failed to include the apostrophe required for it to have been “French’s toast”.
While you absolutely can make great french toast with conventional sliced bread, if you’re looking for a gourmet product than go for a rich, buttery bread like brioche, challah, or pullman. The dryer the bread, the better it will soak up your egg-milk mixture; leaving your bread out overnight can help with this! Be sure to slice at the very least a 1/2-inch thick, 1-inch ideally!
Your Egg Mixture
What takes your bread from plain to POW is your egg mixture. It’s essential to get the right ratio for the desired effect – too much egg and you will get a strange scrambled egg flavor, too much milk and your bread is bound for sogginess. The rule of thumb is this: ¼ milk + 1 egg for 2 slices. To avoid the “scrambled egg”-ification of your french toast, use only the yolks of some or all of the eggs.
While the only essentials in french toast are the bread, eggs and milk, it is the seasoning that takes takes it to the next level and allows you to make it your own! From the classic cinnamon and vanilla to brown sugar and even a dash of spiced rum or liqueur, getting funky with ingredients is a great way to really make french toast your own.
Give It Time
If you think a quick dunk will do, think again! We suggest laying out your sliced bread in a single layer within a shallow baking dish, then pouring your egg mixture directly over it. Let it soak 5 minutes, turn the slices over and soak 5 minutes more. This gives your mix plenty of time to soak into your bread for tender, flavor-filled perfection.
Frying Just Right
Even though butter is the traditional frying medium of the French, the ultimate french toast requires a combination of both butter and oil. Butters low burn point means you run risk of charring your slices before they have a chance to cook through. This is why our gourmet method calls for cooking in half butter, half oil. This results in french toast with a crisp exterior and tender sogginess-free interior.
Across the world you will find a plethora of toppings and sauces dedicated to pancakes and french toast alike, but here in the U.S. there is none-other than maple syrup. Once you’ve put all this effort into making the perfect french toast, you can stand to be picky when it comes to what golden drizzle makes it across your dish before you dive in. While Grade A is the gold standard, try a darker, more robust maple syrup and you will come back to thank us. But hold the phone, no syrup should touch the french toast of your labor without a light dusting of powdered sugar.
What You’ll Need
Time: About An Hour
Servings: 6 People
Frying Pan Or Griddle
Wire Rack Over Baking Sheet
Shallow Baking Dish Large Enough To Hold All Bread Slices In Single Layer (For Soaking)
- 6 1-Inch Thick Slices Of Bread – Day-Old If Possible
- 6 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- Pinch of salt
- A bit of whatever else you think would go well (We’ve seen nutmeg, lemon zest, touch of cloves, allspice, etc)
- 4 tbsp. Butter & 4 tbsp. vegetable oil (for frying)
- Maple Syrup (for serving)
- Powdered Sugar (for serving)
- Fresh Fruit (for serving)
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together your eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, spices and flavorings. Set this aside and take out a shallow baking dish large enough to soak all bread slices at once OR use two separate dishes and separate your egg mixture as evenly as possible. The important thing is that slices can be arranged in a single layer.
Once your bread is laid out, slowly and carefully pour your egg mixture over and around the bread. Let soak 5-10 minutes until your bread is soaked through. Flip over your slices and soak 5-10 more minutes.
To keep your first-in french toast warm while you finish the rest, preheat your oven to 200º F. Prepare a wire cooking rack over a baking sheet nearby as you use medium heat to melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. (In this scenario, you can finish all 6 slices in 2 batches! Transfer as many soaked bread slices as you can fit nicely to your skillet and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Once golden brown is achieved, transfer your finished french toast slices to the wire rack and place in oven to keep warm while you finish the remaining pieces. Wipe out your skillet when the first set is done and repeat steps with remaining butter, oil and bread. Keep finished pieces in the oven to serve warm once your last batch is finished and enjoy!
October 23, 2017