Sometimes Saturday deserves being celebrated with a good brunch. Having just completed my first full week in a new job, this Saturday felt like of those days. I am a huge fan of the British staple ‘eggy bread’. It reminds me of childhood and more recently, hungover weekends where something filling and just the right side of greasy is needed. I like it with ketchup, I also like it with Marmite – try it, you’ll never look back.
But I’m also a fan of the Americanised version which they call French toast. A sweeter version with the warming spice of cinnamon and served with icing sugar and maple syrup.
In fact, it seems every nation has a version of using up stale bread and eggs and turning it into something wonderful. The Germans call it ‘arme Ritter’, the French ‘pain perdu’ (meaning ‘lost bread’). Even the sub-continent is known to have a version which they call ‘Bombay toast’. It seems the concoction of bread-past-its-best and eggs ia that delicious and versatile, every country has put their own spin on it.
So, despite my love of our home grown version, today we fancied elevating our humble eggy bread to the treat-like status of French toast. It’s Saturday so why not!
A couple of bits to note, the success of this recipe hinges on two things. Firstly, the type of bread you use. Select a bread that’s robust enough to withstand the soaking (I used a pain de campagne – it’s meant to be French toast after all – but you could choose any crusty white loaf such as a sourdough). You could also use a butter-rich variety such as brioche to make this even more of a treat.
The second point is the amount of time you leave the bread to soak. I’ve indicated five minutes for each side. Try not to cut the time down as you want the bread to take in every last drop of the mixture.
4 chunky slices of crust white bread (preferably a bit stale)
150ml whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 knobs of unsalted butter
Beat the eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla together in a jug.
Find a dish that’s big enough to fit the slices of bread snugly and lay them in. Pour over the egg mixture and leave the slices to soak for 5 minutes. Once the time is up, turn the slices over and leave the other sides to soak for a further 5 minutes.
Heat up the butter in a non stick pan. Depending on how big your pan is, you may have to do this in two batches. When the butter is foaming and the pan is hot, place your soaked break on and let it brown.
Once sufficiently browned, flip them over and cook the other side. You are aiming for crisp on the outside and fluffy and creamy on the inside.
Serve with a dusting of icing sugar and maple syrup.
- Serves 2
- This would also be delicious with a berries and a dollop of creme fraiche or ricotta mixed with vanilla
- Try adding chopped banana and chocolate sauce