It all started with a bottle of Mexican white vanilla extract that my mom brought back from, well, Mexico. And a loaf of weeks-old homemade bread hiding in the fridge. One indulgent, explosive thought came to me: mmmm, vanilla French toast! So I set about it, paying more attention than I normally do to Sunday breakfast because I was so eager to try this heavenly-smelling vanilla. And I realized this: there are four keys to the best French toast on the planet.
1) The Bread: homemade is best, because, well, it just is. And you can slice it as thick as you want. And it should be slightly stale, so it has a mighty thirst to soak up all the eggy goodness.
2) Spike up that egg mixture! For one slice, I used one egg, a couple tablespoons of half-and-half, a splash of 1% milk, a dash of good, Mexican cinnamon, about a tsp of sugar and – if you can find it – clear, Mexican vanilla extract - about a tsp, maybe a touch less. Oh, and a dash of salt (salt makes everything better – it doesn’t make it taste salty, it just heightens the flavors).
3) The Soak: You’ve got to treat your bread to a long, luxurious soak in that egg mixture. Soak both sides in the egg mixture for a while. Like 30 minutes per side. It comes out sort of bread pudding-ish – but not.
4) Saute and then BAKE! Yes! If you’re making good, thick French toast, you’re just not gonna get it cooked through in a frying pan. Nope, the inside is gonna still be cool and kind of disappointing. So, saute in a pan with some butter to get everything all golden brown and crispy and then put it on a baking sheet into a 350F oven for 10 minutes so it gets cooked all the way through and then it puffs up and gets even more golden brown and delicious!
I like to serve syrup on the side, in a ramekin, for dipping. And a small side of bacon, to add that crispy, smoky, salty contrast. Get out. With a cup of coffee, the Sunday papers and a soft, comfy bed, it’s the perfect Sunday morning ritual. Enjoy!
To my blog partner, the Lazy Cook: There is no whole wheat, no flax seeds, no microwaving or toasting involved here. No, it’s real cooking, and it’s crazy good!