Crusty Country French Toast

Crusty Country French Toast
Everyone needs a good French toast recipe in their pocket. Especially if you are a home baker (or are married to one) and always have a stale butt-end of a loaf of bread on your counter. Matt makes bread all the time and it’s this really amazing, crusty, rustic sourdough that we plow through, typically, with only the tiniest bit on the end that dries out brick-tough that we give to our dog. But occasionally, he will make two loaves and I will have a bit more than I can use in a week. I wanted to have a French toast recipe that I didn’t have to look up – one that was easy to memorize – for just such occasions. I wanted it to work with a bread as crusty as a non-enriched loaf can get. (Enriched refers to added sugar, oil or butter that makes bread soft like sandwich bread, and makes bread less apt to get rock hard when it goes stale.) Matt just uses his sourdough starter, flour, salt and water. It makes an amazingly chewy, crusty bread, but it’s not exactly conducive to a pb&j for a little person.

This recipe will work with bread that is really tough and even soft bread like challah (the ultimate French toast bread).¬†The difference is the soak time. If you’re using really soft, not-so-stale bread, just leave it in the mixture for less time. I left this bread in the mix for almost an hour, flipping them over after thirty minutes. I got up early to feed a baby, then she went blissfully back to sleep, so I had an hour ūüôā So the French toast had that sought-after custardy interior that is very easily obtained by using a softer loaf. Whatever bread you have, this recipe will work. Tuck it away for the weekend and try to memorize it – it’s worth it.

Country Bread French Toast Country Bread French Toast with Bananas

Crusty Country French Toast

8 thick slices of stale bread
4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream (you can honestly use whatever milk you have, but the richer the better, obviously)
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or regular vanilla extract – I like vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 tsp table salt)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8th of a teaspoon of almond extract

A few tablespoons of butter for frying

Preheat your oven to 200F.

Arrange the slices of bread in a 13×9″ dish and squeeze them in or cut them up into smaller pieces if you have to (or work in two batches if you have a smaller dish). Combine all the other ingredients in a large bowl and whip up till very well incorporated. Pour mixture over the bread and let the bread soak it up for 10-30 minutes per side, depending on the staleness of your bread. If you’re using a soft bread like Texas toast, just let it soak a few minutes per side until it oozes out if you poke it. For a rustic loaf that’s near crouton-consistency, let the slices soak for a good thirty minutes per side. If you have lots of leftover mixture (the thickness of your bread will determine this), you can save it in a sealed container for a week and use it again next weekend. Or just makes lots of batches and freeze the leftovers to pop in the toaster on another day!

In a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, melt a tablespoon of butter and work in batches, frying the toast until golden on each side, about 3-5 minutes per side. Keep the toast in a single layer in your oven to keep warm until you’re done cooking the rest. Serve with melted butter and your favorite topping. Shown below with my homemade peach preserves – hooray for summer! ūüôā

Crusty French Toast

Challah French Toast with Caramelized Bananas and Toasted Almonds

Challah French Toast with Caramelized Bananas
So when Matt made Challah a couple weekends ago, the leftover loaf sat on our counter among other homemade rolls he made. ¬†We ate the rolls, but the Challah just sat there, threatening to mold. ¬†So I stuck it in the fridge to prolong its life and waited for the weekend. ¬†Saturday rolled around and I turned that almost-moldy bread into amazing French toast. ¬†Cinnamon, vanilla bean, a touch of almond extract made the batter extra decadent. ¬†I pan fried some bananas and almond slices in a touch of butter and agave nectar and sprinkled them on top. ¬†It was so good and once again, I got the satisfaction of knowing I didn’t let Matt’s bread go to waste! ¬†

Happy Weekend!  
Challah French Toast
Challah French Toast
batter makes enough for about 8-10 slices of thick toast

4 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
8-10 thick slices of bread – any bread will do, but dense, enriched bread works best
2 bananas, sliced
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Butter for pan
Syrup of your choice – I chose dark amber agave nectar

*Give yourself a 30 minute head start so the bread can soak! Heat your oven to 200F.  

Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon and extracts together and pour into a 9×13″ pan. ¬†Arrange the bread till it fills the pan and let it soak on one side for 15 minutes, then flip and let it soak for another 15 minutes, pressing down to soak up more batter. ¬†

Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat and add butter.  When butter starts to bubble, add the slices of bread (work in batches) and cook till golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes per side.  As they finish, put them on a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while you finish the rest.

When you’re done with the toast, wipe the skillet out with a few paper towels and over medium high heat, toast the almonds until brown and fragrant. ¬†Remove and add one tablespoon of butter, a swirl of syrup and the bananas and cook until golden on each side, about 1-2 minutes per side. ¬†Top the toast with almonds and bananas and syrup and serve!