Who loves taking the time to cook an from scratch meal for the family on the week nights? No one, that’s who. Usually, we resort to a combination of the following: seared meat, instant pot starch, vegetable. There’s nothing better on a fall night than a big tray of roasted veggies. But it gets old. Sometimes, you just need a change up. Sometimes, you just need delicious and decadent french toast.
That’s Not Dinner Food!
Enter breakfast for dinner. Just suggesting it when we’re meal planning for the week brings ohhs and ahhs. I always say it in a hushed whisper, as if serving breakfast foods after 2 p.m. is clandestine. My husband doesn’t eat carbs for breakfast (an overall easy and effective way of keeping his triglycerides in check), so weekend breakfasts are usually eggs, fruit (an allowable, high-fiber carb), yogurt, and bacon (hey, there are no carbs in bacon). Week night breakfast for dinner, on the other hand, can include toast, short stack pancakes, “breakfast” potatoes (a great way to use some extra instant pot baked potatoes), or….
Viva La France: French Toast
French toast. At restaurants, I’m a pancake girl, but at home give me french toast hot off the grill. It’s a universal crowd pleaser and I think it’s better made at home than most restaurants.
I think a lot of people a fearful of French toast because they tend to try and throw it together and hence have inconsistent quality. Also, people tend to use white sandwich bread. I have nothing against white bread, but it tends to fall apart in the french toast batter. An enriched dough like a challah or brioche has added egg in the dough, making it ideal for a sinfully rich french toast. In my area, challah bread is widely available, but I also keep a loaf of brioche in the freezer for these occasions. Better yet, keep a loaf of craquelin Brioche. Craquelin brioche is a Belgian specialty with either brown sugar or little bits of pearl sugar in the dough. If all of this seems too specialized, there are some great unsliced, frozen Pullman loafs that are great for french toast and a hundred other uses that you can keep on hand. Other than the bread, the rest of the ingredients are probably already in your kitchen: eggs, milk, sugar, and bacon or sausage. French toast for dinner (or breakfast even) is less than 30 minutes away.
- 1. Turn on the heat. Turn the oven on to 425 degrees, put a pan for the french toast on a medium-high heat (about a 6 on a scale of 1-10), and put a kettle on to boil. A nice cuppa is the one thing that can turn breakfast-for-dinner into a true indulgence. Our beloved electric kettle that we got for a wedding shower gift 6 years ago recently died. RIP Kettle. So, for now, I’m rocking my awesome OXO Whistling Kettle ($49.95, Amazon) that I’ve had since college. At $50 it’s practically an investment piece, but it’s also lasted nearly 20 years and is still going strong (unlike the electric kettle).
- Place a metal cookie rack on a sheet pan (the one with shallow sides). Lay bacon on the cookie rack. Pack it on there. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. (Don’t worry about preheating the oven all the way.)
3. Slice the bread. You’ll want about 1 inch slices – aim for 10 -12 slices. I shave off the ends (and eat them) so that the heals will absorb the egg batter.
4. In a shallow bowl (think a pasta bowl), beat together 6 eggs, 1/2 cup of milk, 2 T of sugar, 1/2 T of vanilla (it’s an odd measurement, I know, but I just use the same measuring spoon from the sugar), a pinch of salt, and a dash of cinnamon.
Let’s talk a moment about vanilla. Most people have a spice isle standard bottle of vanilla. For years, I splurged on the Williams Sonoma vanilla. Either one used alcohol to deliver a vanilla essence to baked goods. Then I found baking emulsions. My favorite for baking is the LorAnn Butter Vanilla. There are other variations, but the butter vanilla is my favorite. I use it measure for measure in anything baked, but you’ll want to go back to the alcohol based vanilla flavorings for anything not cooked (like frosting).
5. Set up your space. To keep things fast an easy, I like to line up from left to right my bread, batter, butter, pan, and serving plate. This seems like a small step, but it’ll help you cook the toast quickly and efficiently with minimal mess.
6. You tea kettle is probably whistling in the background, so go and get your tea on to steep.
7. Place a small amount of butter on the pan to melt. Dip the bread into the egg batter. There’s no need to soak it, just a few seconds, flip, a few seconds more, and then onto the hot butter. Repeat until you get as many pieces on the pan as possible. I use a grill pan which allows me to easily cook four at a time. Any more, and I feel that I’d be too rushed. By the time I get four on the pan, the first piece is ready to flip.
8. I cook each slide about 2 minutes per side, just until the bread and batter is brown and toasty. After each side is cooked, I slide all four to the center to cook the insides just a little longer on indirect heat while I get four more slides on the pan.
Remove everything to the serving plate. I use use a platter so I can pile on the bacon as well. If you cook four slices of the toast at a time, you’ll only have about 2-3 batches so everything should stay warm and should be done around the same time as your bacon.
I’ve never been a fan of syrup. I actually prefer the fake Mrs. Butterworth’s to maple syrup. Instead, I like to serve my French toast with either fresh strawberries or raspberry jam if I don’t have fresh fruit in the house. And whipped cream. Got to have the whipped cream!