French toast is a magical thing. A transformative process of turning sad, stale bread and a couple of pantry staples into edible luxury for everyday breakfast. The end product is a world away from its humble beginnings of forgotten and forlorn looking ingredients, and assures that your morning company will be looking at you all starry eyed, blinded by the ethereal glow of your halo as you yourself have seemingly been transformed from hassled, tired and bleary-eyed into solid kitchen godess gold.
First of all, a little word or two more about French toast…there isnt a standardised recipe, not like one would find for a Victoria Sponge or a Souffle for example. Its very essence means that invariably it may take on a slightly different guise everytime you make it, dependent upon what you have on hand to use up.
A master recipe that allows for flexibility, adaptation and ingenuity is what’s required. It’s like learning to make a sandwhich, and whilst there are recipes and indeed whole recipe books written on how to make a sandwich, we can, for the most part make one with our eyes closed. The same concept applies here. Follow a few simple steps and memorise the basic pre-requisits and this will soon be as routine as brushings ones teeth on a morning. A mindless act of make do and marvel, at your very accomplished self.
P.S. Any publishers out there looking for a tome dedicated to the art of French toast then give me a call. This variation is just the tip of the toastberg. I got bags of content.
For the Toast-Soak
220ml almond milk (or any non dairy milk)
25ml pomegranate molasses (or maple syprup)
Zest of 1 grapefruit
1 1/2 tbsp grapefruit juice
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp fresh ground cardamom
pinch sea salt
To assemble –
90g grapefruit marmalade
30g desicated coconut
6 slices of stale bread
6 soft dried apricots, chopped
Toppings of choice to serve –
Toasted nuts or seeds
Almond or coconut cream or yoghurt
Pre-requisit Tips and Tricks for Top Baked French Toast.
1. What you gonna bake it in? Oven proof dishes are the best bet here. Think about the shape and quanitity of bread you have on hand. Big baked dishes of French toast are great for feeding a crowd, something smaller when its just the two of you, and if you’re going solo then indidvidual little duch ovens or oven proof skillets are neat. Key here is to make sure the dish is never too large, you want the bread slices to nestle nice and snug as it bakes to get the contrast between custardardy soft bottom and crisp toast top. If need be cut your bread to fit the size and shape of your dish before dipping in your mix.
2. Consider your bread, any stale loaf, wholemeal, white, granary, sourdough or brioche will work as long as you cut thick slices, keep the crusts and allow some soak time for best results. Your choice of bread can be matched to your chosen flavour combination, Brioche works great with chocolate and hazelnut to give a richer, more indulgent offering, whilst a seeded or granary bread can add texture and nuttiness which will give a more wholesome end result.
3. Have fun with flavour! Spice the toast-soak with whatever you fancy, cinnamon and/or vanilla is a breakfast no brainer, but try other warming spices like nutmeg or ginger with citrus zests like orange or lemon.
4. Raid the fruit bowl, add berries or bananas, rasins, dates, nuts, seeds or chocolate chips. Simply layer these up in between slices of the soaked bread as you assemble to bake.
5. Add sticky sweet jammy texture with the additon of your favourite preserve, jam, marmalade or nut butter. You can either spread this on the slices of bread before soaking or add spoonfuls between the layers of soaked bread as you assemble the bake.
6. Go with the season or season to suit your company. Summer berries with strawberry jam and toasted almonds when the sun shines, banana with peanut butter and maple syrup when Elvis pops round.
1. Combine the almond milk, pomegrante molasses, grapefruit zest and juice in a bowl (ideally one that is wide enough to fit a slice of your chosen bread in). Add the cornflour and whisk to ensure no lumps remain then add the vanilla extract, the fresh ground cardamom and the sea salt.
2. Depending upon the size of your slices cut in half to fit your dish. Spread each slice with the marmalade and sprkinle with a little dessicated coconut. Take the first slice and lay dry side down in the milk soak, let it take it all in for a minute then place in your dish. Repeat with each slice, sprinkle in the chopped apricots as you go and contiune to arrange the slices of bread however they best fit. I usally fan them out in layers as I go.
3. Once you have base soaked all the slices take what reamins of the milk soak and pour over the bread. Cover the dish with foil and allow everything to be absorbed for at least ten minutes, up to 30 minutes is ideal. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree celcius.
4. Bake the French toast for 10 minutes with the foil cover before removing it to bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the top is nicely toasted, golden brown in colour with crisp edges.
5. Remove from the oven and serve with yoghurt or a little extra almond milk and enough maple syrup to taste.