Perfect French Toast

Wow! What a year it has been. It’s hard to believe it’s been over 10 months since I last posted. Here’s the obligatory explanation and apology, before we get into the meat of the post:

As you may have read somewhere in my About, my profession is a professional wedding photographer. I own my company, and I have been growing exponentially. (Yay!) I also made the decision to go back to school for my Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, and that started up last January (2014). Both of those things by themselves are big time commitments. Both of those things TOGETHER took up nearly all of my free time while I adjusted to dealing with the two coinciding. I let Sweet, Spicy, and Neat tragically fall by the wayside as I determined how to allot my time and remain successful, and for that I deeply apologize.

With that being said, I can’t promise updates as frequently as I was once posting them. However, this little blog was a great source of happiness for me, and I loved reading comments from people who were excited to try the recipes! I will be doing my best to pick it back up with a moderate amount of frequency. You may have to bear with me for a while as I get back into the swing of things, but the best way to encourage continued updates is to FOLLOW and COMMENT and LIKE! ­čÖé

And now, onto the real reason you’re here!


Folks, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s only a WEEK away! Hopefully you already have your evening plans set in stone with your Valentine, but I’m hoping this post might give you an idea to┬ástart that romantic day a little bit earlier! (Hint: No woman ever turned down breakfast in bed…)

Of course, this little gem is good for more than Valentine’s Day. It was written partly out of my sheer exasperation at the plethora of sad, flimsy, flavorless, and otherwise pathetic versions of French Toast I’ve had the misfortune to be exposed to throughout my adult life. Now, I get it.┬áKids don’t care. Give ’em good ol’ Wonder Bread dipped in eggs and milk, and to them, that’s the breakfast of the gods. My four year old cousin will easily 4 pieces of that all by himself. But we’re all adults here. And darn it, it’s time for some decent, ADULT French Toast.

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Now, don’t be intimidated. It’s really not hard. It’s just that the devil is in the details here. French toast is a really basic staple breakfast dish. And it’s time we stop insulting it and start giving it the reverence it deserves.

The first step in your journey to French toast nirvana is ditching the Wonder Bread. It practically dissolves in your mouth. It just doesn’t have the stability and stamina to stand up to truly good French toast. Instead, grab yourself a loaf of unsliced Italian bread. You know, the kind your grocery store makes every morning┬áin their bakery.┬áLittle tip: usually, a loaf of bread from your grocery store’s bakery is far cheaper than your favorite sliced loaf from the big companies.

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Make your slices about 1 to 1.5 inches thick, and cut the bread with a long serrated knife.

Since I’m gearing this for Valentine’s Day, this recipe will be set for two people, but it’s very easy to double to make more, if needed. So, cut 4 slices of bread and set them aside. Then, in a shallow dish, whisk up your egg batter.

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This batter is everything. This is a huge part of what makes this French toast so good. Whisk together 3 large eggs, 1/4 cup whole milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp almond extract, and a shot of spiced rum.

Yes, rum. It’s distilled from sugar cane, and then aged and spiced. What part of that DOESN’T sound like it belongs in French Toast?? Bacardi Gold or Captain Morgan are my favorites, but you can use whatever spiced rum you prefer.

So, once your eggs are all broken up and it’s looking pretty consistent (see photo), it’s time to start cooking! Put a griddle pan over medium low heat and melt a 1/2 tablespoon of butter on the pan. Yep, we’re using good old butter. No canola oil or cooking spray here! It’s all about FLAVOR.

Once the pan is heated, soak each piece of bread one at a time in the egg mixture, making sure to let each side really soak up the egg. (Read: don’t just dip it in and move on! Take your time with it. If you get to the end of your four pieces and you still have a lot of egg left, you did it wrong.) Lay each piece in the pan, spacing them accordingly. Now, here’s the really sweet part of the deal: liberally sprinkle the top side of each piece with cinnamon sugar, while the egg is still wet.

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For those of you doubters wondering why there was no cinnamon in the egg batter… this is why. If you put cinnamon loose in the egg mixture, it all floats on top. Consequently, your first piece of French toast is nice and cinnamon-y, and your last piece gets totally shafted. Not so nice!

Since your pan is on a nice medium low, they should cook nice and evenly. Let them stay on the first side for 3-5 minutes, and then flip them over.

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They should be a nice golden brown! Now, here’s where the magic happens. Once you flip them over, that cinnamon sugar caramelizes with the butter on the hot pan and fuses into the egg. Let them cook for another 3 minutes or so, then remove them from the heat and serve them cinnamon side up!┬áIf you’re feeling really fancy, slice up a large banana and cover the toast in bananas before drizzling with syrup and sprinkling with powdered sugar.

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There you have it, folks. Doesn’t get any better than that for a lazy Saturday morning breakfast! Also, just a disclaimer: I know I┬ásometimes talk about healthy ways to eat, and I’ve even done some posts where I post nutrition info. However, there are some things in life that just shouldn’t be messed with, unhealthy as they are. French toast is carbs dipped in cholesterol and fat… let’s just let it do its thing, and not try and slim it down!

Full recipe:

Perfect French Toast

Yield: 2 servings (4 pieces)

Total time: 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

Four 1-inch slices good Italian bread
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 shot spiced rum
1/2 tablespoon butter
Cinnamon sugar, to taste
1 large banana, sliced into 1/4 inch coins (optional)
Maple syrup and powdered sugar, for serving.

Process:

1) Whisk up eggs, milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, and rum in a shallow bowl until eggs are well beaten.

2) Melt butter on a griddle over medium low heat. Soak both sides of each piece of bread in the egg mixture and lay on the heated pan.

3) Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of each piece while the egg is still wet. Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

4) Serve cinnamon side up and top with banana, syrup, and powdered sugar. Enjoy immediately. ­čÖé

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French Toast Bread Pudding

So, a few days ago, we had a nice Italian dinner with home-made garlic bread. You know, the kind where you buy the uncut loaf from the store and slice it yourself and coat it in garlic and Parmesan goodness and then bake it. We had so much bread left in the loaf that we had French toast the next morning for breakfast.

And then there was STILL some leftover…

I didn’t want to have boring old French toast again, but the bread really needed to be used up, as it’s really only good for a couple of days, so I got to thinking, what if I made a hybrid of French toast… and bread pudding? I mean, are they really all that different?

And thus, this dish was born.

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Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Take three 1 inch slices of Italian bread and cube them into 1-inch cubes. (It should end up being about 2 cups of bread.) Then, dice up 1/2 a granny smith apple and slice 1 banana into 1/4 inch slices.

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In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon. (If you like, you can also add 1/2 tsp of almond extract, and/or use almond milk instead of regular milk.)

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To this, add your bread cubes and gently fold them into the egg mixture until they are all coated, then fold in the apples and bananas.

Split 2 tbsp of melted butter between two ramekins and brush it over the bottom and sides, then spoon the bread pudding into each ramekin. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar.

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Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and apples have softened. Serve immediately!

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Full Recipe:

French Toast Bread Pudding

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

Three 1-inch slices of Italian bread, cubed (about 2 cups)
1/2 granny smith apple, diced
1 medium-large banana, sliced

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk (or almond milk)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

2 tbsp melted butter
Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

Process:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and extracts.

3) Fold in the cubed bread to the egg mixture first, then fold in the apples and bananas.

4) Split the melted butter between two ramekins and brush to coat the bottom and sides of each.

5) Spoon the bread pudding into each ramekin and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and apples have softened. Serve immediately.