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~ How to Make the Best, Basic, Classic French Toast ~

IMG_8247The French words for French toast are pain perdu, meaning lost bread, because it is a way of reviving bread which becomes dry after a day or two.  The basics of any French toast recipe are pretty simple:  Thickly-sliced, two-three-day-old bread is dipped into a vanilla-flavored egg-and-cream custard mixture.  The bread is allowed to soak up the custard for a few moments, then it gets fried in a skillet containing a coating of oil.  When executed correctly, it emerges from the skillet crisp and golden brown on both sides with a creamy, almost pudding-like, center.

Use any semi-firm textured bread, but, make sure it's stale.

IMG_8249The origins of French toast were likely born out of the necessity to use up stale bread, and, sopping stale bread in milk is a tradition that dates back to the Middle ages.  The dish itself, French toast, is thought to be referred to as "French" because French breads like baguettes, sourdoughs and brioche, which are meant to be eaten on the same day they are baked, go stale quickly.  No one knows who's idea it was to whisk an egg or two into the milk and fry the bread in some fat, but, whoever it was, was onto one of our worlds most loved comfort food breakfasts -- French toast.  All that said, almost any type of semi-firm bread or quick-bread (challah, pannetone, banana bread, etc.) can and will turn an ordinary breakfast into a celebration.

French toast in four easy steps:  whisk, dip, soak, cook:

IMG_81836,  3/4"-thick slices, 2-3 day old bread machine brioche

4  large eggs

1 1/2  cups cream

1/4  cup sugar

1  tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

4-5  tablespoons corn, peanut or vegetable oil, for frying French toast

6a0120a8551282970b0147e0e131e0970b 9.58.04 AM~ Step 1.  Using a serrated bread knife, slice the bread.  This is a picture of my bread-machine brioche.  If you have a bread machine, I obviously encourage you give this recipe a try.  If you are not using my brioche, I recommend that whatever bread you are using be sliced to the thickness of 3/4".  If it is thinner or thicker, it will affect the frying time and texture.  In my opinion:  All French toast starts with properly, 3/4"-thick sliced bread.

IMG_8185 IMG_8194 IMG_8196 IMG_8202 IMG_8205~Step 2.  To prepare the egg custard mixture, in a small bowl, crack and place the eggs, the cream, sugar, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon and sea salt.  Using a hand-held rotary egg beater, thoroughly whisk the eggs, cream and seasonings together until uniform in color.  Transfer the custard mixture to the bottom of a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole.

IMG_8207 IMG_8208 IMG_8218~ Step 3. Arrange bread slices in the casserole atop the custard -- overlapping is ok. Wait 2-3 minutes. Flip bread slices over and wait another 2-3 minutes.  Flip the bread over again, then, maybe once more, to make sure each slice is thoroughly coated and almost all liquid has been absorbed.  Briefly set aside.

IMG_8222 IMG_8223 IMG_8226 IMG_8229 IMG_8233~Step 4. Preheat just enough oil, 4-5 tablespoons, to thinly-coat the bottom (about 1/16") of a 12" nonstick skillet over medium heat on the stovetop.  Add 3 slices of the egg-custard-soaked bread and gently sauté, about 3-4 minutes per side, using a spatula to flip it over only once, until golden on both sides.  Transfer the French toast to a paper-towel-lined plate.  Repeat the process with the remaining 3 slices of egg-custard-soaked bread.

Serve ASAP & don't forget the butter & maple syrup:

IMG_8243How to Make the Best, Basic, Classic French Toast:  Recipe yields 6 slices French toast/2-3 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; serrated bread knife; hand-held rotary egg beater; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; 12" nonstick skillet; spatula; paper towels

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4829507200dCook's Note: Once a year, the day after Eastern European Orthodox Easter to be specific, my mother made one of my favorite breakfasts: savory French toast.  She soaked thick slices of the round loaf of leftover paska (a brioche-type bread enriched with milk, eggs, butter, sugar and salt) in a whole-grain mustard-laced milk-and-egg mixture. She served it with sliced and fried baked ham (also leftover from Easter), soft-yolked, sunny-side-up eggs, and a fresh chive garnish (which grew in dad's garden).  Mom made this but once a year because that was when she had the very-specific ingredients.  Try my ~ Savory Brioche French Toast w/Fried Ham & Eggs ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)


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