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French toast for the novice

Breakfast

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53 replies to this topic

#31 Kouign Aman

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 01:56 PM

I don't think you have yet gotten the idea of how this should work.

I prepare the puddings a day or so prior. It works better if the pudding has been chilled at least overnight.

I did get that. That's why I said for us it would work for a special brunch.
We dont plan regular breakfasts that far ahead. We rarely plan them 10 min ahead of when we start cooking them. Its not personal nor an attack on your method.

Its clear that it was a marvelous thing for the special occasions you described.
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#32 andiesenji

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 03:34 PM

I don't think you have yet gotten the idea of how this should work.

I prepare the puddings a day or so prior. It works better if the pudding has been chilled at least overnight.

I did get that. That's why I said for us it would work for a special brunch.
We dont plan regular breakfasts that far ahead. We rarely plan them 10 min ahead of when we start cooking them. Its not personal nor an attack on your method.

Its clear that it was a marvelous thing for the special occasions you described.



I didn't take it personally. I truly thought you had the idea that the pudding and the end result had to be prepared immediately after baking the pudding. My mistake in misreading your reply.

I have to prepare these things ahead of time. I live alone and have only myself to cook for most of the time. However, I have a lot of friends who drive up this way, on their way to Las Vegas or Mammoth and further north and like to drop in for a "brief" visit and I like to be able to feed them without a lot of fuss.
With a day or so notice, I can produce a very nice breakfast or brunch and if they are on their way home in the evening, I can give them something to tide them over till they get home - with one of the savory type.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#33 Kouign Aman

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 03:59 PM

I like stratas, which is pretty much your method. You hit the nail on the head, its the day or so notice that makes all the difference.

We tried homemade challah with our french toast method the other day. I guess we're creatures of habit - we all, down to the 7 yr old, prefer our french toast made with the whole wheat bread. who'da thunk it. :laugh:

Of course, there must be maple syrup. Warm.
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#34 Kim Shook

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 08:09 AM

I can vouch for Andie's French toast! It was fantastic to have all of the work done ahead of time and to have only to crisp it up in a pan. We served it to weekend company and even made it one weekday morning from the leftovers for ourselves - I don't think I've ever had French toast for a workday breakfast before! I really liked the fact that the center wasn't wet - a problem with most French toast that I make.

#35 kayb

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 01:36 PM

I pride myself on my French toast, and I'm a proponent of the "simpler is better" method. I use challah, heavy cream and eggs. Period. I beat about three eggs in with about 1/2 to 2/3 cup cream in a wide, shallow bowl; slice the challah between 3/4 and an inch thick; lay a slice in the bowl, press it gently all over the surface with the back of a fork, flip it over, repeat the process, and fry it in butter on a medium-hot griddle.

If there is anything any better, I don't think I could stand it.

I have also discovered I can do the entire loaf on a weekend, put the leftover slices in plastic bags, and the teenaged son can reheat them in the toaster oven through the week.
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#36 Chris Hennes

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 04:35 PM

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.

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#37 andiesenji

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 05:29 PM

I generally add vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sometimes sherry, as listed in my recipe.

I have also flavored it with cardamom, mace and other spices. I like to experiment.

Fennel seed, ground, was not so great but star anise (stewed in the milk, not ground) was very nice combined with black pepper and palm sugar instead of regular sugar.

If you like a particular flavor, try it.

Edited by andiesenji, 08 September 2011 - 05:30 PM.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#38 Kouign Aman

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 08:16 AM

It will taste oddly flat if there's no salt. I use salted butter to cook it in, so that takes care of it, but if you are in an unsalted butter household, it may pay to add a pinch of salt to the egg/milk mixture before mixing it up.

Most of the flavor comes from the topping(s). Melted butter and powdered sugar, good jam or preserves, maple syrup or whatever floats your boat.

Someone mentioned mess. I dont quite understand where that's an especial problem. Pancakes = bowl, transfer item, fry pan(s), plate.
French toast = bowl, soaking pan, fry pan(s), plate. Same number of items to wash and the egg/milk is so much easier to clean up than pancake batter.
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#39 Jaymes

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 08:31 AM

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.


#40 JAZ

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 10:30 AM

This baked version, non-traditional but much less last minute work, is pretty good, although it's a little too sweet for my taste.

#41 andiesenji

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 11:12 AM

This baked version, non-traditional but much less last minute work, is pretty good, although it's a little too sweet for my taste.


I tried this similar version a year or so ago and it was pretty much just a bread pudding and was much to sweet for me, even with using the Splenda/sugar baking mix, reducing the volume according to suggestions on the Splenda site.

My complaint with this type of dish is that the only crusty bits are on top and I like the flavor of the crusts browned in butter.

Edited by andiesenji, 09 September 2011 - 11:12 AM.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

#42 Kouign Aman

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 11:26 AM

JAZ reminded me of making eggnog french toast, and of making it with the regular batter, but using panetone for the bread. Talk about rich!
"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

#43 ruthcooks

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 12:08 PM

I soak my bread (almost any kind) until it's saturated and brown in butter. Than I transfer to a cookie sheet and bake at about 325 until the bread is very puffy. That way I know the soaking liquid is completely cooked.

I spread the baked toast with softened butter, than sift over a coating of powdered sugar, then squeeze one or more lime halves over it until the sugar is all liquified. I can't remember where I heard of this, but I have never been tempted to eat it any other way since my first taste.

A friend told me once that she could never understand why she didn't like anyone's French Toast but her mother's. Turned out her mother French Fried her French Toast!
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#44 Jaymes

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 12:42 PM

I spread the baked toast with softened butter, than sift over a coating of powdered sugar, then squeeze one or more lime halves over it until the sugar is all liquified. I can't remember where I heard of this, but I have never been tempted to eat it any other way since my first taste.


Very interesting. Sounds sort of Latin/Caribbean with the lime juice. But I'm definitely going to give it a try.

#45 Jaymes

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 02:08 PM

Well, Fat Guy... Have you given it another go?

#46 baconburner

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 02:32 PM

One thing which i heard of from a patron who was dining in a railway car where he had the best FT he had ever had. It was made the normal way or as desired. The secret was it was coated on the outside with rolled corn flakes and pan fried in butter..
Cheers

#47 Jaymes

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 04:05 PM

One thing which i heard of from a patron who was dining in a railway car where he had the best FT he had ever had. It was made the normal way or as desired. The secret was it was coated on the outside with rolled corn flakes and pan fried in butter..
Cheers


Interesting. I've never heard of doing that to French toast, but my grandmother often coated fish in crushed corn flakes before frying.

And then there's fried ice cream...

So I can see how it could be really tasty.

#48 Quiltguy

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 09:43 PM

I made Andie's French toast for Sunday brunch, it was wonderful. :wub: :wub: Cut it maybe 1 1/4" thick. Next time I'll cut it thinner. The "crusty bits" to center ratio was off. :laugh: :laugh:
Thanks Andie.

#49 Fat Guy

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 01:45 AM

I've made French toast once since starting to collect advice here. I used challah, lessened the percentage of milk, soaked for about half as much time, and heated the pan a bit more than before. No other ingredients. Results were significantly better. Next time I may try adding some stuff to the mix.

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#50 Lisa Shock

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 06:13 AM

I just saw an episode of America's Test Kitchen where they explored French Toast. Turns out that it's better to dry the bread out in the oven for about 15 minutes than to use stale bread -the starch will absorb more and have a better texture. They liked Challah, used it for the demo, and mentioned several mass-market breads that tested as best to use.

#51 DrewUK

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 07:00 AM

Wow that is the most intense French Toast I have every seen, well done
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#52 DrewUK

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 07:14 AM

Back when I were a young lad, some 30 years ago when fat was not bad for you, I had some wonderful Texas French Toast that was white bread about an inch thick and deep fat fried and dusted with powdered sugar. I was not sure about the egg/dairy preparation as it was a Holiday Inn, but man was that good!!!! Since I now own a deep fat fryer again, after reading Modernist Cuisine I may try coming up with a recipe. I think vanilla would be nice, but nutmeg does it for me. I also think that stale bread may be the key also, but as the Modernist books say stale bread is actually wet so that may not work in a deep fryer. Sunday mornings look out – we are going to start experimenting for the ultimate deep fried French Toast...

Edited by DrewUK, 18 September 2011 - 07:15 AM.

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#53 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 10:16 PM

Occasionally I make stuffed French toast. Before dipping in egg, I cut the bread thick enough to make a pocket along one side and fill it with cheese or berries or cannoli cream, or whatever I have on hand that seems appealing.

#54 DianaB

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 12:28 AM

I've really enjoyed reading this thread and will certainly try some of the ideas set out. I loved what we called French toast when my parents were alive, both would make it but my Dad, an occasional but enthusiastic cook with a repertoire of Jewish recipes that I can still sometimes taste but will never make as he had no books and he died long before my own interest in food emerged, made the best FT, often as Sunday breakfast.

Both of my parents considered this a savoury dish so no sugar, syrup or fruit, just thin slices of bread soaked in egg and cream seasoned mix, lots of black pepper, then fried in butter till crisp on outside and cooked through.

I've eaten 'pain perdu' as a dessert in France, invariably sweet and served with fruit, nothing at all like the FT I grew up with, I had never put the two concoctions together until I read this thread. There are varieties of puddings in the English repertoire that are similar to the 'pain perdu' idea, under the general heading 'bread and butter pudding', some are not too far away from recipes discussed here while others involve many other ingredients and are baked rather than cooked on a hob.

Thanks to all for invoking memories of happy childhood days for me. Perhaps it's time I tried to work out some of my father's recipes from memories of taste and watching him prepare. If I get the FT anywhere near I'll be very happy!





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