French Toast

French Toast

A fancy breakfast that’s easy and never fussy.
TIME 20 to 30 minutes
MAKES 4 servings
8 slices or ½ loaf good-quality bread
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
2 tablespoons butter, or probably more

1 Put a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-low heat while you prepare the egg mixture for soaking the bread. Heat the oven to 200°F.

2 If the bread is whole, cut it into 8 slices no more than 1 inch thick. Crack the eggs on a flat, hard surface and open them into a wide, shallow bowl large enough to hold a few slices of the bread. Add the milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Then whisk in a small pinch of salt and the sugar and vanilla if you’re using them.

3 Put 2 or 3 slices of bread in the bowl. Use a fork to turn the slices, pressing on the crusts a little if needed to help them soak up the liquid.

4 Sprinkle a couple drops of water into the pan; if the drops skid across the surface before evaporating, it’s hot enough. If not, turn up the heat a bit. Put a pat of the butter in the skillet. When it stops foaming, lift a piece of bread from the egg mixture and let it drip off, then transfer it to the pan. Repeat soaking and transferring the bread until the skillet is comfortably full; don’t overcrowd or the toast will be hard to maneuver and won’t brown properly.

5 Cook each piece until nicely browned underneath, 3 to 5 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary to keep the bread from burning. You might need to move the slices around in the pan to help them cook evenly. When the bottom turns golden brown, turn and cook on the other side, another 3 to 5 minutes. Serve right from the pan and keep cooking the remaining batches. Or transfer them as they finish cooking to an ovenproof plate and put them in the oven to stay warm for up to 20 minutes.

  • 3 Ways to Vary French Toast
1 Instead of vanilla, flavor the custard with a pinch of ground cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, or nutmeg.
2 Press sliced almonds or unsweetened grated coconut onto the top of the bread before transferring it to the skillet.
3 While the toast is staying warm in the oven, melt a little more butter in the skillet and cook some sliced apples or bananas for 2 to 3 minutes and serve them on top of the toast.

  • Buttery, eggy breads like challah or brioche make soft, custardy French toast with crisp outsides. For something heartier, try a whole grain loaf. Airy loaves with big holes work only if you cut them 1 to 2 inches thick.
  • Slightly dry stale bread is ideal here, because it soaks up the egg mixture like a sponge. Fresh bread is okay too, but dry the slices on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven for a few minutes if you have time.
  • Topping ideas: fresh berries, yogurt, maple syrup, jam, a sprinkle of powdered sugar, or a drizzle of molasses.

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