French toast is ok. I like it, but I really don't love it. And I'm ok with that. But yesterday, while Dev and I were driving over to meet some friends at a local post-school hang out, he mentioned that someone we knew had eaten cinnamon roll french toast for breakfast. Cinnamon roll french toast? French toast made out of cinnamon rolls? Heaven poured forth and rained inspiration down over me.
Did I come home and make cinnamon roll french toast this morning? Nope. Believe it or not, after some contemplation on the subject, I don't think cinnamon rolls would make very good french toast. But I did figure that the choice of bread would make a huge difference between ok french toast and life changingly good french toast. I also put some thought into the batter. And possibly a dredge, for texture. Here's what I did this morning....
I cracked 2 eggs in a bowl and added a glug of heavy cream. Yes- heavy cream. Judge me if you want to. Then I added a little bit of vanilla bean paste (I think the flavor of the paste is more pronounced than the extract). I proceeded to whisk the crap out of this, so that there were no gloppy strings of egg stuff left in the batter.
Then I moved on to my dredge. I love crispy things. When I want other fried foods to be crispy, I dredge them in panko bread crumbs. So I decided that would be a smart thing to do to my new and improved french toast. On a paper plate I put panko crumbs (I don't know how much, I eyeballed enough for 4 smallish pieces of bread). Then I decided the dredge needed a flavor infusion, but I didn't want to add salt because I was going to use salted butter to fry the bread in. After consulting my freezer, I came up with a bag of slivered almonds. Who doesn't like the taste of butter fried almonds?? I whizzed them around in the food processor to break them up (not make them into powder) and added them to the plate with the panko. I mixed them with my fingers.
I know not everyone is lucky enough to have a husband who loves to make bread from scratch. But I do! Yay me! If you don't have one of those, then choose a bread that is a little thicker...maybe Texas toast or something like that (or a new husband- ha!). I cut 2 slices of wheat bread, about an inch thick, then cut each slice in half. I wanted pieces about the size of my palm- maybe a little bigger. Now on to assembly and fryage.
In a 12 inch CAST IRON SKILLET (really, try to use one- I think it makes a huge difference), I melted half a stick of salted butter. You want the butter to be ready to accept the bread as soon as your first piece is dredged and ready to go.
I soaked each piece of bread in the egg mixture for about 30 seconds. You really want the egg batter to be able to get in there and make things creamy. I learned this technique from watching Alton Brown. I love Alton Brown. And don't worry- Dev
already knows. After soaking, I moved the bread to the plate with the almond/crumb mixture. I made sure each piece was as evenly coated as possible, pressing the bread down in the crumbs to really stick the little buggers on there.
By now my butter was hot and bubbly, so I put the first piece in. Then I repeated the process with the other 3 pieces. Flip them when they are nice and brown on the bottom, and cook until both sides are brown. Put on a paper towel for a second or two, just to soak up any extra butter drippings, then plate it up!
Dev is a die hard maple syrup fan. But I like to shake things up. This morning I decided in favor of choke cherry jelly. I heated it in the microwave a few seconds and it was just like syrup.
As we ate the crunchy on the outside, yet creamy on the inside french toast, I considered possible fillings. But I really think filling it would make it too rich. But making some sort of fruit compote and serving it on the top instead of syrup would be fantastic!