Breakfast

Simple French Toast

Long weekends beg for decadent breakfasts. French toast, with its custard-like texture and sweet, crispy crust, is the perfect answer.

Like many of my favorite sweet breakfast treats, french toast comes together quickly and requires ingredients frequently found in the fridge. Eggs? Check. Milk? Check. Bread? Check. If I’m really trying to impress, I’ll throw a loaf of challah into the mix.

Sweetly Seasoned - French Toast

To make a truly great piece of french toast – one that rivals your favorite brunch establishments – There are a few tricks. First, use thick slices of day-old bread. Your bread should be soft enough to soak up the egg mixture, but not so soft that it will fall apart. Secondly, make sure that you have the right proportion of milk to eggs. If you’re looking for a rich, melt-in-your-mouth piece of french toast, use whole milk or heavy cream.  If you’re looking for something slightly healthier, stick with a low-fat milk like 1%. Lastly, let the bread soak in the custard mixture on both sides before cooking. This is the key to creating a creamy center – arguably the best part of the dish.

For those of you savory folks that are skeptical of sweet breakfast, give this one a try.

French Toast Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • 4 medium slices of bread (preferably challah), cut into 1″ thick slices
  • unsalted butter for frying

Instructions:

  1. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add milk, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon and whisk until combined.
  2. Dip slices of bread one at a time into the bowl.  Let sit for 30 seconds on one side and then flip. Let sit for 30 more seconds and then remove bread from egg mixture, letting excess egg drip off. Repeat with remaining slices of bread.
  3. Heat skillet over medium high heat.  Add butter and swirl around pan to coat. Add slices of bread to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Flip bread and let cook on other side for 2-3 minutes longer.
  4. Remove bread from pan and top with strawberries and maple syrup.  Serve warm and enjoy!
Bread

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

photo (4) copy

For the past three years, I’ve experimented a lot with bread making.  I started off with my friend Laura’s sourdough starter (otherwise known as my “pet”), which had an awesome, complex flavor. However, the starter often disappointed me, and I could never get my dough to rise above the lip of the pan.  The starter also required daily attention, and I quickly killed it in the fridge (perhaps the reason I don’t have a real pet).

I then moved onto yeast-y breads, although no one recipe could keep my attention for very long. Pretty soon, I found myself back at the grocery store buying Arnold and Pepperidge Farm.  Who doesn’t have a special love for bread that is perfectly sliced and lasts for a week or more?

But then, I found the KitchenAid.  I wouldn’t necessarily call myself lazy, but the stand mixer makes bread making so easy that I don’t think I’ll ever want to buy bread again. My loaf (pictured here) rose so high that it was towering over the pan, and I was pretty sure the whole thing would flop over in my oven.  The texture and taste were also wonderful, and I couldn’t wait to share it with friends and co-workers.

To be fair, I’ve only made one loaf so far.  However, based on the way this one turned out, there will be many, many more.

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread Recipe (adapted from “Good to the Grain” by Kim Boyce)

Ingredients:

  • oil for pan
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees)
  • 3 tbsp unsulphured molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Oil a 9″x5″x3″ inch loaf pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together warm water, yeast, and molasses.  Let sit for 5 minutes, or until light foam appears on the surface of the water.  At this step, be very careful that the water is not too hot or you will kill the yeast!
  3. Slowly add whole wheat flour, bread flour, and oats to the bowl.  Stir with a spatula until combined. Cover the bowl with a tea towel for 30 minutes (I considered skipping this step, but it was well worth it).
  4. Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer. Add salt and mix dough on medium speed for 6 minutes.  When finished, the dough should be smooth and elastic.
  5. Oil a large bowl.  With your hands, roll dough into the form of a ball in place it in the bowl.  Cover with a tea towel and let rest for one hour, or until doubled in size.
  6. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.  With your hands, stretch the dough into a square, approximately 12 by 12.  Working with the top two corners, fold them into the middle of the square.  Repeat on the bottom, folding the bottom two corners into the middle.  Pinch the seam where they meet, and lightly roll the dough back and forth.
  7. Curl the ends of the dough inwards and slide the loaf into the prepared pan.  Cover dough with a tea towel and let rise for one more hour. Dough should double in size and stand 1-3 inches above the lip of the pan.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake loaf for 40 minutes, or until golden brown on top.  When finished, the bread should sound hollow when tapped lightly on the top. If you like, rub the top of the loaf with a light coating of butter to make it glossy.
  9. For best results, let the loaf cool for a few hours to preserve moisture.