There's been very little discussion of spices so far: are most of you doing like kayb and going with just eggs, dairy, and bread? Then topping it with something? The way my dad always made it he mixed cinnamon and nutmeg into the liquid mixture: I do that too, and also a little salt.
As a base, our constants are eggs, dairy, cinnamon, vanilla, pinch of salt (we're an 'unsalted butter' household), little sugar (or syrup or other sweetener). Always.
Back when I began my "french toast" journey, some four decades ago, didn't add sugar to the eggs - just the vanilla, cinnamon, cream, salt, like my granny taught me. But when my children were small, they ate it with their hands. When I was a kid, we always poured maple syrup over the French toast, or dusted it with powdered sugar and strawberries, but that's really messy for little kids to eat with their hands. So I started putting sugar into the egg mixture to encourage my children to eat it without adding some sort of sweet topping, and noted that it really helped to crisp it up. And as I usually make French toast for a crowd, I almost always put it into the oven to hold while I finish making as much as I think we're going to eat. Even with only a pinch of sugar in the batter, it crisps nicely in the oven even if you add no more sugar on top of the toast while it's grilling.
We do like maple flavor, so if we're not going to be pouring maple syrup over the toast as we serve it, I often work in a little maple somewhere. In lieu of adding regular granulated sugar to the egg mixture, will add maple syrup. Or maple sugar to the cooking toast. When we get really fancy, like for houseguests, I'll whip up some cream for a whipped topping. I'll add maple sugar to that cream. And/or a little dark rum.
Again, regarding spices and flavorings, as I said above, at Christmastime, make it with eggnog, which has nutmeg (but don't add nutmeg as a matter of routine). And booze. Often add liqueur, such as an orange-based one, but any favorite liqueur can add a nice flavor. There's a Cream of Tequila that I love.
As I'm thinking back over the years and the many options I've tried, I'm kind of smiling in appreciation of this wonderful and versatile dish. And have decided there's no "right" or "wrong" way. Just a delicious preparation that you can fiddle with and adapt any way you like. Hard to ask more than that.
Edited by Jaymes, 09 September 2011 - 09:13 AM.