Why a post on French Toast? Everybody knows you just dip a slice of white bread in a egg-milk mixture and plop it in the frying pan. Instant breakfast. But Chef Daniel Gritzer over at seriouseats.com has taken this old favorite and kicked it up a notch, as Emeril might say.
First, Gritzer tampers with the bread. Instead of white, sliced, he goes for challah, the braided Jewish bread or brioche, a French favorite. He cuts the bread about an inch thick and drys it for about 10 minutes in a 250-degree oven. This helps the slices absorb the liquid better and form a smooth, custard-like interior.
The eggy mixture gets a extra flavor punch with the addition of orange zest, rum, and several spices. (His suggested ratio of 3 eggs to 1 cup milk is a good one to remember.) Next, the soggy bread goes into a moderately hot skillet. Don’t get it too hot or the bread will scorch on the outside before it’s done on the inside. Sprinkle a bit of sugar over the top surface so that when the bread is turned the coating will caramelize slightly. Transfer the toast to a rack in the a 250-degree oven for about 10 minutes, or more, to cook thoroughly.
Top the toast with whipped crème fraîche and a drizzle of real maple syrup. I followed the recipe pretty closely. I didn’t have any rum, so I substituted bourbon, which caused no harm. I also omitted the star anise, because I’m not a fan of that particular spice. I loved the texture of the toast. The inside was almost like custard and the outside slightly crisp. Perfect!
Orange-Rum Brioche French Toast
- 8 (1-inch thick) slices brioche or challah bread
- 6 eggs
- 4 Tbs. sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 Tbs. rum
- 1/2 tsp. orange zest, loosely packed
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, grated star anise (optional)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 Tbs. unsalted butter for the pan, or more, if needed
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche, for topping
- Maple syrup, for serving
- Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 250 degrees. Arrange bread in single layer and cook turning once, until lightly toasted, about 20 minutes. (If the bread is stale you can skip this step.)
- In large mixing bowl,whisk together eggs, sugar, rum, orange zest, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise (if using) until thoroughly combined. Add milk and whisk to blend.
- In a medium bowl, beat crème fraîche until it forms soft peaks. Set aside.
- Heat 2 Tbs. butter in skillet over medium heat, swirling skillet until forming subsides. Soak 2-3 slices of bread in egg mixture. Add soaked bread to skillet and cook, swirling occasionally, until browned on bottom side, about 3 minutes.
- Sprinkle top side with sugar, flip, and continue to cook swirling occasionally until browned on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer toast to rack in oven in a single layer to keep warm and repeat with remaining slices of bread. Allow each batch of toast to heat in oven for at least 10 minutes (but not more than 30) to ensure it’s fully cooked through.
- Serve French toast with whipped cream and maple syrup. Serves 4. (Adapted from Daniel Gritzer)
See here for more on Daniel Gritzer’s French Toast research.