The French toast that you’ll find in most places in America is what I call cafeteria french toast. Cafeteria french toast is crappy white Wonder bread crusted in eggs and too much cinnamon and burned. Then you drown it in artificial syrup and call it a day. The thing about cafeteria french toast is that it still tastes decent!
But this is not that french toast. This stuff is so tasty that you’ll barely need syrup. A dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of real syrup will put it over the edge though.
I changed up my normal French toast routine for this version by substituting almond extract instead of vanilla. That’s a substitution that I’m doing more these days and so far I’ve always liked the almond version better. Also, I made a kind of crazy whipped cream with ricotta and honey. It turned out better than expected honestly.
1) If you’re using homemade whipped cream, start by whipping the cream, honey, and mascarpone together in a bowl until the cream forms stiff peaks. Set in the fridge until ready.
2) Use a sturdy bread for this, stale is good, and slice to about 1/3 of an inch thick.
3) Lightly beat your eggs, milk, sugar, extract, and cinnamon together in a dish.
4) Add a dab of butter to a hot pan or griddle over medium heat (I used a cast iron pan).
5) Let your bread soak in the custard mixture for about 15 seconds. (Less if you’re using a flimsy bread, more if you’re using a sturdy bread)
6) Add to the hot pan and cook for 3-4 minutes per side until the toast is nice and brown.
7) Serve immediately with maple syrup, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and some fresh whipped cream.
Making the whipped cream
So my original plan with this whipped cream was to add a tiny bit of mascarpone cheese with the cream and add some honey. I figured it would be tasty with French toast. For some unknown reason, when I went to the store I purchased ricotta cheese instead of mascarpone cheese.
Since I had it, I figured I would try my idea with ricotta.
The ricotta starts off almost like cottage cheese (and I was sure it would be a failure) but then after some serious whipping (which you have to do anyway) it smoothed out quite a bit and magically turned into whipped cream.
The honey gives this a great flavor and honestly the ricotta was very good. It gave the final product a lot of body. I’m not sure that I’d recommend buying ricotta just for this, but if you have extra and are trying to sneak it into things, this totally works and was actually pretty good.
Just add all your ingredients into a preferably chilled metal bowl and whisk like crazy until it turns into whipped cream!
The French Toast
If you can at all help it, please don’t use flimsy white bread for french toast. It just kind of sucks in my opinion. You want something sturdy that can sop up a lot of the custard mixture and hold together without a problem.
You could definitely use no knead bread for this or any good french bread. While you can use fresh bread (I did for this recipe), it’s pretty standard to use older, stale bread. Since it’s kind of dry it’ll actually soak up even more of the custard which is a good thing.
Whichever bread you use, slice it pretty thick. I did about 1/3 of an inch slices.
This is a really basic french toast custard recipe. The only fancy thing I did was substitute almond extract for the vanilla.
If you’ve never used almond extract before, here’s my advice: Go buy some. Anytime you see vanilla extract in a recipe, try substituting almond extract for it. I’ve yet to find a recipe that doesn’t work great with almond instead of vanilla.
Lightly beat the eggs and milk together and then mix in your extract, sugar, and cinnamon. I like to use a pie dish for this because it’s shallow and the bread fits perfectly in it. A bowl would make it hard to get the bread soaking.
Depending on how sturdy and stale your bread is, you’ll need to soak it for different times. If you are using crappy white bread, you’ll need to soak it for about 5 seconds. If you’re using a sturdy stale bread, 45 seconds would be better.
I let my bread soak for about 15 seconds per side and that was about perfect. It should be heavy and clearly filled with custard, but not really soggy.
Cooking the French Toast
Unless you have a large griddle, you’ll probably have to cook these guys in batches which means you should also soak them in batches.
I used my trusty cast iron skillet to cook these. I put my skillet over medium-high heat and once it was heated, I added a tiny dab of butter to it. Then toss the bread straight in!
After cooking for 3 or 4 minutes on side one, give them a flip! They should be nice and browned but not burnt at all. Then another 3 or 4 minutes on side two.
Serve these up as soon as possible with a dollop of whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon and some syrup!
This is a really quick way to feed a crowd a delicious brunch. Plus, if you plan right, you can just use stale bread for it! They’ll never know.
But I’m telling you… almond extract. That’ll have them coming back for more!