French toast is a dish that when prepared correctly can be decadent, but when prepared incorrectly it can be a disastrous mess. To make the perfect French toast there are a few things you need to consider and a few tricks I have picked up through the years.
Your first consideration should be what type of bread to use. There are a tremendous amount of choices that would qualify for an appropriate bread, sandwich bread not being one of them. A few of the choices would be French bread, Italian bread, brioche , ciabatta, raisin bread, or even one of my favorites croissants. For years I made our French toast using sandwich bread, but no matter what I did or how long I cooked it, the results were always soggy. Toasting the bread helped, but using a denser-style bread is essential if you want to keep the sogginess to a minimum.
Once you have decided what type of bread to use, you need to check how fresh your bread is. Although with certain breads like croissants and raisin bread, which are fairly firm breads, you don’t need to worry so much, some of the breads I listed are still porous and can suck up more liquid than you want. If the bread is fresh, chances are you will want to either lightly toast it or if you have the time leave it on the counter for a few hours. Although there are tricks to limit how much liquid is soaked up, stale or lightly toasted bread certainly helps as well. You don’t want the bread too dry, however, because this would hinder the milk/egg mixture from soaking into the bread at all and cause the end product to have a crispy texture and a very strong bread taste rather than an egg one.
Now that you’ve decided on the type of bread you want to use and have made sure that it is not too fresh or too stale, it’s time to assemble the ingredients to turn your bread into French toast. The list of ingredients, regardless of the type of french toast you will be making, will always have milk and eggs on it. Eggs are pretty self-explanatory but as far as milk goes there are several options here and the choice you make is going to strongly affect whether or not your French toast is soggy or not.
TRICK OF THE TRADE: If you choose to use whole milk in any of its forms be it whole, 1/2%, 1%, or even skim, chances are more of this milk will be sucked into the bread regardless of how short a time it is sitting in the milk and the higher your chances will be of having a soggy French toast. Therefore the only milk you should ever choose to use for making French toast is nothing less than half and half but preferably whipping cream or heavy cream. Let’s reiterate that: The only milk you should ever consider using to make French toast is half and half or better yet – Whipping or Heavy Cream!
Whipping cream or heavy cream is a staple in my refrigerator. Every week when I go to the supermarket I pick up at least two 16 ounce containers of it. Heavy cream has an unbelievable amount of uses and even if you don’t make French toast in some form or other every week as I do, it adds a richness to scrambled eggs, pancakes, or even oatmeal so it definitely won’t go to waste. Of course there are uses far beyond breakfast as well, so believe me, it’s worth putting on the shopping list.
Besides the milk and eggs the next choice you have is what type of spices to add to your milk and egg mixture. You can add anything from cinnamon to nutmeg to vanilla and even some people will add additional sugar. I choose not to add additional sugar because I found that the toppings used on French toast are typically sweet enough so adding more sugar isn’t necessary. How much spice/flavoring you add to your milk/egg mixture is dependent on how much French toast you plan on making. Typically though if you’re using three to four eggs I would add a ¼ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon of flavoring.
Very important: Do not forget to add salt. Salt added to the egg and milk mixture regardless of the seasoning you add brings out the flavor of the egg and stops your French toast from being flat. Plus it enhances the spices and enriches the flavor of the bread. I usually add about ¼ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon depending on how many eggs I use.
The choices for French toast are endless. Besides the choice of bread, seasoning, and milk there’s the choices of topping. You can use anything from the traditional maple syrup to homemade fruit or buttermilk syrups or for something truly special a cream cheese, cannoli, tiramisu, fruit, chocolate, or even a flambe filling/topping. I have yet to make a flambe French toast, I think it might be a bit much, but that doesn’t mean I won’t attempt one some day. My next posts will consist of some of our favorites.
Every week I am in search of new breakfast ideas. Having hubby home everyday for a little over a year has been wonderful but has also posed some challenges. Going from making him breakfast two mornings a week to seven really wore out my regular breakfast menus. Pretty quick it became clear that I needed some new options, but coming up with something different day after day after day isn’t that easy. Being able to make French toast in five or six different ways however gives me the option of making French toast every week sometimes even twice and we don’t get sick of it, especially when I make it light and fluffy without a hint of being soggy or under-cooked. With a few tricks of trade, this is easily accomplished and for this I am – Simply Grateful.