Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"The Night Before" French Toast

I don't know about the rest of you, but in the mornings I don't want to fuss over complicated breakfast recipes. Most days breakfasts are grab and go affairs, but on certain mornings--like Mother's Day, Christmas, etc.--a big breakfast is essential to the day's festivities.

Today's recipe is one of my favorites. It's a baked French toast that can be modified a zillion different ways to suit any taste. It must be made in advance (the night before) which means minimal effort first thing in the morning. It also has a short list of every day ingredients.

If you don't have plans for Christmas breakfast yet, consider whipping this up. It takes just a few minutes to throw together but it results in a yummy, special breakfast. As my husband said the other day after eating a batch, "That was glorious, Miss Lydia." Glorious, indeed!

1 (13- to 14-inch-long) loaf of soft-crust supermarket Italian bread
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup (give or take) sliced almonds
  1. Cut 12 (1-inch-thick) diagonal slices from bread, reserving ends for another use.
  2. Generously butter 1 side of each slice and arrange slices, buttered sides up, in 1 layer in a buttered 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit if necessary. (Note: you may find it difficult to get everything into one dish--really squeeze the bread in there!)
  3. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and extract until combined well, then pour evenly over bread.
  4. Chill, covered, until bread has absorbed all of custard, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day, depending on bread. (The bread really sops up the liquid!)
  5. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  6. Bring mixture to room temperature and sprinkle bread with sugar and almonds.
  7. Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until bread is puffed and top is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately with syrup.
  • I've used challah bread and sourdough for this in the past--both worked well. Use any type of bread you want (brioche, baguette, etc.).
  • If you don't like (or have on hand) almond extract, try vanilla, maple syrup, orange, or anything else you like.
  • If you want something festive, try eggnog instead of milk.
  • We drink skim milk in our house, so if you don't have whole milk just use what you have on hand. It won't mess things up.
  • Change the topping: you don't need to add nuts, or if you want, try a different combination of nuts (I think pistachios would be yummy).
  • Instead of maple syrup, try powdered sugar, fruit syrup, or whatever else you may want.
If you make your own concoction of this, let me know. I'd love to hear about your changes.


phairhead said...

creme brulee french toast is a bernardi family tradition(made w/ challah of course!)

Greta said...

I am not a big french toast fan, but this is really good and easy to make!

Junk said...

Sounds delicious!! My favorite on french toast: sour cream. I know it's sounds weird, but I'm not a huge sweets for breakfast person (usually) and it has just the right amount of tart to cut through syrup or sugar...

Greta said...

I made this for Christmas breakfast and used egg nog instead of milk and it was a total winner - thanks Sis!