I have made french toast too many times that was just, eeeh. A little plain old white bread dipped in some beaten egg, if you’re feeling ambitious you may have added a splash of milk or even some vanilla. Problem with this method it, it doesn’t really bring a lot of texture to the party or even a whole lot of flavor for that matter. Especially if you are using grocery store sandwich bread. Do yourself a favor and pick up a loaf of something a bit more substantial to start with and you will be happier with the results. Think some sort of “enriched” bread, meaning it has egg and probably some sugar in it. Like a good challah bread, or if you’re lucky enough to have some leftover or in the freezer, some Bulgarian Easter Bread.
The “batter” for this french toast has egg yolks, melted butter, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, flour and a pinch of table salt. I read about this method on cooksillustrated.com and was a bit skeptical about the inclusion of flour and the fact that you are using only egg yolks. But, as all good Cook’s recipes do, there was some explanation included. The flour better allows the batter to cling to the bread and get crispy during cooking. The egg whites are omitted because they are the part of the egg that actually contributes that “eggy” flavor and that’s not really what you’re going for with french toast. Ever had that french toast that feels like you’re eating bread coated in scrambled eggs? Yea, this isn’t that.
Cut your bread into about 3/4-inch slices and let each side soak in your delightful batter for just under a minute before cooking in a hot buttered skillet for about 1-2 minutes per side. You end up with something that is buttery and golden brown on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. This will depend partially on the bread you start with of course but you get the idea.
The bread I started with was my homemade Bulgarian Easter Bread and it was a few days old which made it perfect for the application. You don’t want to start with super fresh bread because it will be too moist. If you are using fresh bread, lay your slices on a baking sheet and toast in a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes to dry it out a bit before proceeding, flipping halfway through.
If you are using a denser, less enriched bread, like french bread, cut back on the flour in the batter by about half as this will better allow the batter to penetrate the bread.
If you are making a large batch of this, heat up your oven to 300 degrees and place cooked french toast slices on a baking sheet into it while you continue cooking to keep them warm and toasty.
Perfectly Simple French Toast
(Adapted from “French Toast for Challah or Sandwich Bread” on cooksillustrated.com)
- 1 ½ cups whole milk or half and half
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for frying
- ¼ tsp. fine kosher or sea salt
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 6-8 slices day-old challah bread (cut ¾ inch thick) or good quality sandwich bread
- Heat a 10 to 12- inch skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes
- In a medium shallow dish or pie plate whisk together the milk, egg yolks, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, salt, vanilla and flour until smooth
- Soak bread about 45 seconds per side (or 30 seconds for sandwich bread)
- Meanwhile, swirl 1 tbsp. of butter in the hot skillet
- Pick up the bread from the batter, allowing the excess liquid to drip off and place in the prepared skillet
- Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes on the first side and 1 minute on the second side (or long enough to reach the desired “brownness” for you). If you are cooking multiple pieces at once, it will take longer per ide
- Serve immediately or keep slices warm on a sheet tray in a 300 degree F oven while cooking the rest
- Continue adding 1 tbsp. of butter to the skillet for each piece of bread added