This french toast is just too good. For many years- I have loved the french toast at Jane. And this dish- I think I explains how they get that melt in your mouth middle part. The key- like the breakfast casserole- is to let it soak overnight. Doing it the night before also leaves less to worry about in the morning- and you don’t have to deal w. making it in batches and keeping them warm. This recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen. For flavoring, I used 3 tablespoons Bailey’s and 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract. I was tempted to scrape a vanilla bean in there- I didn’t- but next time definitely will. SK uses 3 tablespoons of Bailey’s and 3 tablespoons of Cointreau. She also says Frangelico, Chambord, Creme de Cassis, Grand Marnier or a teaspoon or two of vanilla or almond extract work would. And, that you can add some zest, chopped nuts (almond or pecan), raisins or some such if you want. Now, I didn’t serve it with this- because i didn’t think of it- but I am including the Clinton St. Baking Co. recipe for Maple Syrup Butter (cribbed from the cookbook Mara got when she hung out w. Stavros- the greek shipping heir who used to date Paris Hilton). This syrup is also the first thing I’m putting on here that I haven’t actually made- but how can it be bad? This french toast doesn’t really require syrup- but because it just sounds so damn awesome, I wanted to include it. Throw those balsamic berries on it while your at it. Would be a killer brunch.
1 loaf supermarket Challah bread in 1-inch slices
3 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
+whatever booze/flavor combo you want. I did 3 tablespoon Baileys + 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
1. Generously grease a 9×13-inch baking dish [i used a smaller one] with salted (my choice) or unsalted butter.
2. Arrange bread in two tightly-packed layers in the pan. Cut one slice into smaller pieces to fill in gaps. If using a thinner-sliced bread, you might wish for more layers, though I find that over three, even baking can be difficult. If you are using any fillings of fruit or nuts, this is the time to get them between the layers or sprinkled atop. [Now, mine did not nearly make two layers, and sensing tightly packed would be important- I ended up using a slightly smaller pan- with only one layer. And it still worked great!)
3. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt and booze or flavorings of your choice and pour over the bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
4. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The bread will absorb all of the milk custard while you sleep.
5. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden. This will take longer if you have additional layers.
6. Cut into generous squares and serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit, powdered sugar or all of the above.
Maple Butter from Clinton St. Baking Co.
1 cup maple syrup
2 sticks cold unsalted butter (cut in cubes)
Heat syrup over medium heat. Whisk in butter one cube at a time.