French Toast

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 20 minutes

Originally a way to bring new life to stale bread (it’s called pain perduв lost bread in France), French toast can be made with virtually any fresh or stale bread, including quick breads and even tortillas. European-style loaves require a bit more soaking to soften the crust, while hearty whole grain breads make more substantial slices. My favorite are soft thick slices of brioche or challah, which make a truly decadent French toast.

You can easily vary this basic recipe: Use any nut, grain, or soy milk instead of dairy milk; or enrich the soaking liquid by using half-and-half or cream. Season it with ground cardamom, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, or almond extract instead of the cinnamon or vanilla extract. To make an eggier French toast, increase the eggs and decrease the milk by a couple tablespoons per added egg.

2 eggs

1 cup milk Dash salt

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or ground cinnamon (optional)

Butter or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, as needed

8 slices bread

Put a large griddle or skillet over medium-low heat while you prepare the egg mixture. Preheat the oven to 200В°F.

Beat the eggs lightly in a broad bowl and stir in the milk, the salt, and the sugar and vanilla if you’re using them.

Put about 1 teaspoon of butter or oil on the griddle or in the skillet. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, dip each slice of bread in the batter; good bread or stale bread can soak up more batter than packaged white bread, as you’ll see. Turn once or twice in the batter, then put it on the griddle. Cook until nicely browned on each side, turning once after 3 to 5 minutes (you may find that you can raise the heat a bit). Serve immediately or put in the oven to keep it warm for up to 30 minutes.

Variations

Crispy French Toast. There are two ways to give French toast a bit of a crust: Stir 1/2 cup flour into the batter or dip the bread in the batter, then dredge it in sweetened bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes. In either case, cook as directed.

Nut-Crusted French Toast. Add another egg and decrease the milk to 3/4 cup. Spread about 1 cup sliced almonds or any finely chopped nuts on a plate; after dipping the bread in the egg mixture, put the slice on the nuts and press gently to make the nuts stick; flip it over to coat the other side. Proceed with the recipe, taking care not to burn the nut coating.

Caramelized French Toast. A sugar coating melts and creates a lightly crunchy coating: Sprinkle or dredge the dipped bread with sugar. Proceed with the recipe and serve as directed.

5 Toppings for French Toast

Aside from or in addition to the obvious maple syrup:

  1. Soft whipped cream
  2. Any fruit pure
  3. Sauted apples, pears, bananas, or other fruit or any fruit compote
  4. Not-Too-Sweet Maple Buttercream Frosting
  5. Creamy Nut Sauce, made with almonds