Weekends are all about laziness, pajamas, and really yummy food—especially breakfast. I think I have said it before, but my weekday breakfasts are quite boring, and don’t often involve using the stove or oven (much to my kids’ dismay). But the weekend is another story. It’s the time for pancakes and bacon, biscuits with butter and honey, blueberry or banana muffins… the really good stuff, of course made while still wearing pajamas and drinking coffee. Of course!
Once again, I am taking inspiration from my dad. You better get used to it; he is undoubtedly the best cook I know, and my biggest cooking influence. (In case you hadn’t figured it out yet). His French Toast is the best. I am usually in the salty/savory breakfast camp (or, more truthfully, the “coffee for breakfast” camp), but this French toast makes me jump the fence. There’s nothing like it. And, just in time for the weekend, here’s the recipe. (P.S.–this is perfect for those “breakfast-for-dinner” nights, too.)
Makes approximately nine 1 1/2 to 2-inch slices
- 1 loaf of day or two old French Bread (Or Italian, just don’t get it with seeds or spices on top) sliced into thick 1 1/2 to 2 inch slices
- 2 cups half and half or whole milk
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons vanilla (or the seeds of a vanilla bean if you want to get super, Crème brûlée style fancy)
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and/or nutmeg (this is totally optional, and I add it depending on my mood–sometimes I just want the vanilla)
- good pinch of salt–about 1/2 teaspoon
- butter and vegetable oil for cooking
Preheat oven to 350
Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk well. Add half and half or milk, honey, vanilla, salt, and any spices you’re using and whisk to combine. Place your sliced bread into a baking dish large enough to hold them comfortably in a single layer. Or, alternatively, split it evenly between two smaller dishes. Pour over your wet mixture and allow to soak for about 5 minutes before flipping and allowing to soak another 5 minutes. This step is so important! One of my biggest food peeves is French toast that is still dry in the middle. Let it soak. Just walk away and let it soak. It will drink up the liquid, and you will be rewarded for your patience. I promise.
When your bread is done soaking, prepare a large griddle or skillet by heating about two tablespoons of butter with a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Carefully lift your soaked bread, allowing excess to drip off, and place on pre-heated griddle. Cook slowly allowing to brown for about 7 minutes on each side. Flip as needed to get it evenly browned. Do this in batches if you don’t have a large griddle.
When it is nice and brown on both sides, remove to a sheet tray and bake for about 5-10 minutes. This last step is my dad’s signature move, and it just ensures the bread is cooked all the way through, as well as making it puff up a little–C’est très Français. And it guarantees that while you scurry around getting the final breakfast preparations done, your French Toast will be nice and hot when you’re ready to sit down and slather it with butter and syrup. My family’s favorite accompaniment is sausage, but bacon is obviously great, too. Whatever you serve it with will be perfect.