When I was growing up, french toast was a special weekend treat. My sister and I would cajole mom to whip us a batch and then eat our jealously guarded share while watching Sunday morning cartoons – there was always a fight over who would get the last slice. Only, this was probably not the french toast you grew up with, because it was a savory version that I now believe is common in South Asia. There were only three ingredients – eggs, salt and day-old bread that was fried till it was crisp and golden, to be eaten with ketchup. And this was always my definition of french toast. In fact, one of the first arguments my boyfriend and I had (although I’m absolutely sure he doesn’t remember it) was over french toast – he’d always had it sweet, and I could not possibly imagine why anyone would want to eat it that way.
This was before I was introduced to brioche. And pure maple syrup. And the sweet-and-salty contrast of crisp bacon. I was a convert (sorry Mom!). And while I still make the salty french toast when nostalgia strikes, I’m partial to the decadence of a sweet brioche french toast when the weekend comes calling. It is my favorite breakfast on a Saturday morning when the whole weekend stretches out in front of you full of possibilities. The best thing about it is that it does not require advance preparations or complicated shenanigans. It is simple enough to not break that lazy Saturday morning stride and luxurious enough to feel like a real treat.
Because of this very simplicity it demands that you use the best quality ingredients that you can. My favorite bread to use is a day-old brioche, but challah or a good country bread would work too. I like my slices relatively thick, the more to soak up all that eggy liquid. I flavor the milk only with vanilla, but you can try whatever catches your fancy – cinnamon, rum, orange zest. This version results in what all good french toasts should be – crispy on the outside and almost like a custard on the inside. Paired with pure maple syrup and crsip-fried bacon, it’s a breakfast fit for a great weekend.
Weekend French Toast
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6-8 slices day-old brioche (or challah/good country bread, cut 1/2-3/4 inch thick)
Butter (for frying)
1. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla in a shallow bowl.
2. Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium heat and melt butter to swirl and coat the pan in a thin layer.
3. Dip the bread slice in the egg-and-milk mixture, about 1 minute on each side, until the bread is saturated with the mixture but not turning to mush. Add to the pan and cook until golden on each side. Repeat with the remaining bread slices. (Control the temperature so that the butter does not burn.)
Serve with pure maple syrup (and a side of crisp-fried bacon if you desire).
Enjoy your weekend!