With variations, tips and tricks to customize your own perfect French toast recipe.
It took me long enough, right? (Can you believe it’s been almost two years? Yeah, me neither.) For a blog with this name, which features recipes, the lack of actual directions for making French toast was getting a little ridiculous. Here’s the thing, I didn’t want to post just a recipe for French toast, that seemed silly, everyone already knows how to make French toast, right? Instead I would put together some marvelous, unheard-of combination of toppings and put that in a post, with the actual French toast just included almost as a by-the-way, here’s how I make it.
I started off yesterday morning with just such a plan, to make a seasonal orange-based sauce. I wasn’t going to tell you this next part, but it now seems important: it did not go well. In fact, it reminded me specifically of the part of the year just passed that I would very much NOT like to repeat in the year to come: me trying very hard for a goal which I (perhaps) have somehow misjudged in one or more ways, expending a lot of time and energy but not quite getting where I’d like to go.
I like to think I’m not superstitious, but at first, this seemed like the most inauspicious possible sign for January 1. Then, as it rolled around in my brain a little more, I started to think that maybe the
failed orange sauce (it came out ok after all) was a cautionary tale, and if I took it the right way, I could use it to steer away from the process I don’t want, and towards the one I do.
I started thinking; maybe just French toast is enough. Of course not everyone already knows how to make it. Especially since I have some tips and ideas to get you started with your own never-before-seen, awesome variations. After all, this space is supposed to be about empowering you to make things, and not about me showing off, even though I love sharing the things I make here.
In 2014, I’d like to be more grounded, less hectic. I still have a million dreams of every kind, so many things that I’d love to do. But my journey towards them might not be about reaching as far as I possibly can in one grasp, or frantically trying to fit as much as I possibly can into every single day. Maybe it will be more about doing one little bit at a time, and even about recognizing and sharing the good bits I already have right in front of me.
Happy New Year, friends! May it be a good one for all.
How to Make French Toast
First, and most importantly, you need bread. You can use any kind, and it’s not just a metaphor, or part of the 6 words I chose to describe my life, it really is the best possible use for bread that’s staler than you’d like to eat it. Brioche, or banana bread, or any other thing that’s called a “bread” and maybe borders on dessert, will make amazing, Ann-Sather-worthy French toast. I’ve used my homemade bread for our most recent versions. As always, a quality bread (or any ingredient) will lend even more layers of subtle delicious flavor to the toast (or any finished dish), but it also may be a tastier use for a less-than-stellar bread than eating it alone. How much batter the bread will soak up varies wildly depending on the type of bread and how dry it is, etc.
Next, you need some egg and stuff to soak the toast in. I like it to be mainly egg, because I do not like the inside of the bread to be soggy when it’s done. I like to whisk up the egg etc. in a glass dish with a flat bottom rather than in a bowl, so I can put a few pieces of bread in to soak at a time, and not be left with a little well of liquid at the bottom that the bread can’t reach. For about 6 pieces of bread (again, this varies a LOT depending on your bread, but you can always add a little more to the pan) I use:
3 eggs, whisked up well with:
1/4 cup milk (it’s Ok to substitute non-dairy milk here)
A pinch of salt
A larger pinch of sugar
Next, add some flavorings to the egg mixture—whatever your heart desires. A generous sprinkle of cinnamon, a pinch of ginger and a pinch of cloves is a good way to start, especially in winter. A splash of liqueur is good—for an especially luxurious version, substitute a generous splash of cream for the milk, and add the lost liquid back in by way of brandy or rum etc. Vanilla extract is good (but probably choose it or liqueur), or try another extract, maybe paired with a spice or two, for a unique flavor. I especially like to compliment whatever I’m planning to put on top with a bit of something in the batter, but keep it fairly subtle.
Soak the toast in the batter for a few minutes, then flip the slices over, and let them soak for another couple minutes.
To cook the toast, heat up a heavy skillet over medium heat and melt some butter in it, maybe 1/2 Tablespoon butter for four slices (in my little skillet I used less). The toast should sizzle when it hits the pan, and the egg batter should start to set up right away. It only takes a few minutes to get lovely brown spots on the bottom side, at which point flip the toast over. You may need to add a little more butter between batches.
If not all of the toast is done at once, you can keep it warm on plates in the oven at 200° F, until you’re ready to serve it.
For toppings, really, the sky is the limit. It’s—ahem—delicious with just real maple syrup and homemade crème fraîche. A little orange zest (or even iffy orange sauce) is really good with this basic setup. Practically any fresh seasonal fruit is amazing on French toast, strawberries in spring are particularly wonderful. Any jam you have is good. Coarsely chopped toasted nuts are great (bread with nuts in it would also be great as base). Melted butter, fruit syrup, whipped cream . . .
Some of my favorite flavor combinations may yet appear as time goes on. Please share yours as well!