I used to watch as my siblings made French Toast as kids. I was next to last in a line of 5 kids. Everyone was pretty self reliant in the kitchen; I especially remember my brother David cooking as a kid. He still remarks about my grossing him out with some of my kitchen antics. I ask you, what is so wrong with fried bologna sandwiches heaped onto white bread with yellow mustard and dill pickles? It was at least colorful.
But that recollection bears little resemblance to French Toast. In our house, French toast was made by mixing an egg with some milk and splashing around a few squares of white sandwich bread until gloppy, then frying it in some butter. No thanks. I could never go that way. After all my tastes were defined by fried bologna sandwiches. Honestly, I don’t remember ever having French toast as a kid.
Years later, while working at a local hospital, Linda Hagerman introduced me to her version of French toast. I was a convert. This was the real deal. I mean really, really good. Linda offered up a number of options when it came to this delicacy. Orange zest, cinnamon, allowing the soaked bread to rest overnight or frying it up right away. I’ve tried them all and passed along the recipe to more people than I can remember. Everyone loves this French Toast.
The other day, I had scheduled two back to back meetings at my house, and I was starving! Before my first friend arrived, I put some bacon in the oven and prepped the toast. Before she left and when my second friend arrived (I only meet with friends), I asked if everyone was hungry. Who would say no? I mixed some berries with a bit of sugar and lemon juice and let them marinate while I sauteed up the French toast. Brunch came together fairly quickly and my appetite was quelled until dinner time.
8-12 1″ slices day old or older baguette
1/2 cup milk or 1/2 & 1/2
2 Tbls granulated sugar
Generous dash vanilla
Berries, whipped cream, maple syrup or honey
Whisk together the milk, egg, vanilla and sugar in a shallow bowl or pie pan. Dip the bread slices into the milk mixture, turning them to coat well. Leave them to sit in the mixture for 20 minutes or longer, moving them around so that they absorb the liquid fairly evenly. If you’d like to do this at night and finish cooking them the next day, remove the soaked bread slices to a plate and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Some reviewers say that this overnight rest results in a custard-like French toast.
When you are ready to cook the toasts, place 2 or more Tbls of butter in a large saute pan and heat until hot, but not brown. Saute the slices of bread for 2-4 minutes per side or until nicely browned. Remove to a plate and keep warm, if necessary, while the remaining bread is being cooked. Serve with your choice of enhancements.