June 16, 2009 6:18 AM   Subscribe

I want the best dam french toast recipe this side of the mississip'!

the more original the better!
posted by chicago2penn to Food & Drink (40 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
Recipe I learned from an Italian over on the Austrian side of the Mississippi:

Heat griddle.
Dip bread in mix of milk and eggs.
Sandwich slices of mozzerella cheese (preferably fresh) between two slices of bread. Grill.

posted by dunkadunc at 6:23 AM on June 16, 2009

I really like making it with King's Hawaiian Sweet Bread. It has gotten rave reviews.
posted by mmascolino at 6:24 AM on June 16, 2009

Use freshly baked Challah as bread. It is slightly sweet on its own, plus has good thickness for a melt in your mouth french toast. *drool*
posted by seppyk at 6:37 AM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Slice challah or Portuguese sweet bread laterally, smear it with cream cheese and pop it in a casserole dish. Whisk milk, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg and pour it over the whole thing.

Pop in an oven for about 30 minutes.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:40 AM on June 16, 2009

My recent discovery at a Mexican brunch: use sopaipillas (is that the plural?) instead of bread. As in: the only thing that could make bread soaked in egg and fried in a pan better is if you used bread that was already fried, then soaked it in egg, and fried it in a pan. It's fried twice! Genius!!
Holy Jesus that was a good breakfast.
(Philly-ites, if you are into a brunch meetup in NoLib sometime, I can introduce you to this delightful dish.)
posted by 8dot3 at 6:46 AM on June 16, 2009

As important as what's in it (milk, eggs -- 1 egg per 2 slices -- SALT, a little sugar) is how you cook it. You want a crisp yet tender crust, with a custardy (not rubbery or liquid) interior, so it's a delicate balance that depends on your stove and pan and will require some experimentation. In general, heat lots of butter over medium heat, drop in toast, turn the heat down to medium low, cook about 4 minutes; turn heat up again, flip toast, finish off about 2 minutes.
posted by palliser at 6:58 AM on June 16, 2009

I like Alton Brown's method. In my case, the bread was Anadama cut into huuuuuuge slices.
posted by mkb at 7:00 AM on June 16, 2009

SWEETENING: use molasses or piloncillo/panela in the egg batter.

Most brown sugar in American groceries is simply white sugar spray-painted with molasses. If you use molasses, the caramel flavor will be much more prominent, you'll use less, and it'll integrate more easily into the batter. Keeping everything liquid means the sugar soaks into the bread instead of simply coating the outside and scorching.

Or, you can use piloncillo. Unlike American brown sugar, Mexican brown sugar is made from real, unrefined cane juice. They simply boil it down and form it into rock-hard shapes (I see cones most often in Latino mercados). It's got lots of trace minerals that refined sugar lacks, and a really rounded flavor.

It's kind of hard to use in a liquid that isn't going to be heated while mixed, since it doesn't really disssolve. I usually chop it up with a knife or put it in a bag and whack it with a rolling pin or whizz it in a food processor/coffee grinder.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:01 AM on June 16, 2009

If you have the right shape of waffle maker, you can can usually fit slices of batter-covered bread in it to make French toast waffles. Some cutting off crusts may be required, YMMV.
posted by anthom at 7:03 AM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

I don't believe in salt, in anything, but my default french toast is milk, eggs, some melted butter (helps it stick less if the batter itself is a bit buttery, not just the pan), a drop of vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon. These last two are very subtle: everyone loves my french toast but doesn't know why.

I keep a grill buttered and work through a pile of toast doing six at a time... a big flat electric grill works better than a pan for me since it can hold more than one or two pieces at a time, but if you have to use a pan, use the largest possible and make sure it's evenly pre-heated first. Then work fast, because butter burns if left there all alone.

Now I have spoiled the secret.
posted by rokusan at 7:04 AM on June 16, 2009

I replace at least some of the liquid in the batter (custard) with orange juice and then, pretty much, follow Alton Brown's recipe, noted in an above comment. I also use vanilla and have used molasses as well for the sweetener which has a nice effect.

I don't even try to put dry spices, cinnamon, in the custard as it absolutely won't wet and just ends up clumping. I sprinkle cinnamon and, often, finely ground ginger and even a little ultra-fine sugar on the bread once it has been soaked but before cooking.

A variation is to pour the custard over bread the night before and bake it in the morning. Very different than the pan cooked but equally good.
posted by bz at 7:21 AM on June 16, 2009

Oh, yeah, try using Chinese Five Spice powder (cassia cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger, Sichuan pepper) instead of just cinnamon. It's that Christmasy-baked-good taste you're used to with a slight spicy edge. I know I sound crazy. Just try it.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:24 AM on June 16, 2009 [5 favorites]

I actually had some delicious pain perdu this morning. Probably a bit too rich to eat often, but delicious anyway.

The night before you want to eat it, mix together 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, and 1 tsp vanilla. Cut two 3"-4" pieces of day-old baguette, place in big sturdy ziplock bag or a covered container, and pour egg mixture over it. Put in the fridge overnight. In the morning, brown each piece of bread on each cut side, and then place in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes, or until no liquid custard comes out when you press down on it. Serve with powdered sugar, maple syrup, fruit, or bacon.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:25 AM on June 16, 2009

My french toast recipe is the 2007 Cook's Illustrated one. It uses much less egg than most and as a result it makes a very light batter that results in a wonderfully crispy outside and a nice custardy inside. The recipe is also modified for different breads. Here it is:


Makes 4-5 challah slices, 6-8 sandwich slices. Published May 1, 1997.

Though thick-sliced challah is best for French toast, you can substitute high-quality, presliced sandwich bread. Flipping challah is easiest with tongs, but a spatula works best with sandwich bread. To speed the cooking of large quantities, heat two or more skillets to brown a few batches at once. To vary the flavor of the batter, add three-quarters of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon or one-half teaspoon of ground nutmeg with the dry ingredients, or substitute almond extract for the vanilla.

1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus extra for frying
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 - 5 slices day-old challah bread (3/4-inch-thick) or 6 to 8 slices day-old sandwich bread

1. Heat 10- to 12-inch skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat egg lightly in shallow pan or pie plate; whisk in butter, then milk and vanilla, and finally sugar, flour, and salt, continuing to whisk until smooth. Soak bread without oversaturating, about 40 seconds per side for challah or 30 seconds per side for sandwich bread. Pick up bread and allow excess batter to drip off; repeat with remaining slices.

2. Swirl 1 tablespoon butter in hot skillet. Transfer prepared bread to skillet; cook until golden brown, about 1 minute 45 seconds on first side and 1 minute on the second. Serve immediately. Continue, adding 1 tablespoon butter to skillet for each new batch.


1 large egg
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 - 8 slices day-old firm European-style bread (3/4-inch-thick) such as French or Italian
unsalted butter to grease skillet (about 1 tablespoon per batch)

1. Heat 10- to 12-inch skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat egg lightly in shallow pan or pie plate; whisk in milk and vanilla, and finally sugar, flour, and salt, continuing to whisk until smooth. Soak bread without oversaturating, about 30 seconds per side. Pick up bread and allow excess batter to drip off; repeat with remaining slices.

2. Swirl 1 tablespoon butter in hot skillet. Transfer prepared bread to skillet; cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes on first side and 1 minute 15 seconds on the second. Serve immediately. Continue, adding 1 tablespoon butter to skillet for each new batch.
posted by not that girl at 7:27 AM on June 16, 2009 [4 favorites]

There are lots of great recipes but two key principles lead to amazing french toast, starting with an already rich and eggy bread and letting it air dry to maximize the amount of the egg mixture it can absorb. Challah is good, but finding good challah, rather than the wonderbread versions so common, can be a challenge. Brioche is the perfect starter bread and is even more decadent than challah, and harder to find. Use half and half instead of milk and make much more egg mixture than you think you will need as if you properly air dry the bread overnight it will amaze you at how much it absorbs. You can get a couple of eggs into each slice easily.
posted by caddis at 7:39 AM on June 16, 2009

Oh, you pre-slice it to air dry it. I think I skipped that part.
posted by caddis at 7:40 AM on June 16, 2009

Deep fried french toast. I googled this phrase and got a bunch of results, but I haven't tried one yet so I don't have a specific recipe to recommend.
posted by crLLC at 7:47 AM on June 16, 2009

PB&J French Toast

Take one slice of whatever bread you have and spread a thin layer of peanut butter on it.

Take another piece of bread and spread a thin layer of your preferred jelly, jam or preserves (I use strawberry)

Put these together and proceed as usual: dip, fry, butter, syrup.

Never eat regular old boring french toast again.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 7:48 AM on June 16, 2009

Reviewing the recipes posted so far, other people seem to use far less eggs than I do. For one cup of half and half I might use four or five eggs, perhaps even more eggs. I don't really use a recipe, I just whisk the eggs and half and half with some maple syrup (not too much sugar or it will burn, you can always add syrup when serving) and then spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, sometimes some clove and allspice, and a little vanilla and a pinch of salt. Some people add melted butter, but with the half and half it seems a bit of overkill. Of course the bread must be thick, an inch or so, thus you want to cook them on a fairly low griddle to allow the center to set. I have heard that you can substitute egg nog, leaded or unleaded, for the milk or half and half, but I have never tried it. I guess a little shot of whiskey or brandy into the egg mix might be interesting, but again I haven't tried that. I am making this for my kids. This is definitely not in my diet (but of course the chef must test the product for quality control purposes). Someone suggested adding orange juice. This is a favorite. Add some orange zest too if you have it, and try this with pancakes as well.
posted by caddis at 7:57 AM on June 16, 2009

I've used Martha Stewart's Buttermilk French Toast recipe for years. But it wasn't perfect until I bought a non-stick electric griddle.
posted by raisingsand at 8:08 AM on June 16, 2009

Try cardamom as a substitute for cinnamon
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:13 AM on June 16, 2009

Mrs. Zed made this recently. It was very good.
posted by Zed at 8:23 AM on June 16, 2009

Two ideas for stuffed French toast -- a sweet one I've actually made, and a savory one I just made up on the spot.

The sweet version: Marmalade Stuffed French Toast

Take a loaf of sourdough (which I personally prefer to challah or brioche), slice it into 2" slices. Make a slit in the middle of each slice, starting 1/4" in from either side, thus making a pocket. Do not slice all the way through.

Mix a brick of softened cream cheese with several tablespoons of orange marmalade and some chopped pecans or walnuts. Spread this mixture inside the slices of bread. Pinch the bread closed.

Mix your custard: Two eggs, a couple cups of milk or half & half, some orange zest, some cinnamon, a touch of vanilla. Soak bread slices in custard until moist -- not more than a minute or so per piece, if the bread's fresh. Pan fry. (In butter!) Done.


So I've made the above before, and it's great. I'm not much of a sweet-breakfast eater, though, so I'm sitting here thinking that it would be great to make a savory version of this. This is what I came up with -- a sort of biscuits and gravy preparation, but without going to the trouble of making biscuits.

The savory version: Sausage Stuffed French Toast with Cream Gravy

Again, slice some sourdough and give it pockets.

Saute some crumbled, spicy breakfast sausage. (I tend to add additional sage, red pepper, and fennel.) Remove the sausage, reserving the fat. Add enough olive oil so that there's 3 tablespoons of oil in the pan. Cook half an onion and a couple cloves of garlic in the oil until translucent. (This isn't a traditional addition to cream gravy, but I like it.) Add 2 tablespoons of flour and cook until the flour starts to brown and smell nutty. Add 3-4 cups of cold whole milk and whisk-whisk-whisk to avoid lumps. Bring the mixture to a low simmer and let it thicken to your desired consistency, whisking often. Add more milk if too thick. Add 1/3 of the sausage to the gravy, as well as salt (lots) and pepper (lots more) to taste.

Mix 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the gravy to the remaining sausage so that it holds together. Stuff into the bread.

Soak bread in custard: Eggs, milk, lots of black pepper, some sage. Saute bread. Serve with gravy.

I might have to make this for dinner tonight.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:53 AM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Slice the bread (4 slices) 3/4 inch thick (stale challah works best), lay it in something like a large, flat pyrex baking dish. Mix together 3 eggs with a cup of milk and a dash of vanilla extract. Thin it with a 1/4 cup of water. Pour it over the bread and pop it into the fridge to sit for half an hour.

While the bread sits, heat some fresh berries in your smallest pot until they're mushy.

Reduce 2 cups of milk, 1/4 cup sugar in a medium size pot with a dash of vanilla. Keep an eye on it and the heat low enough that it never boils!

Melt butter with a bit of cooking oil in a large pan at a low/medium heat. Brown on both sides, then cover for a few minutes at low, until the insides firm up.

Put the toast on plates, top with the berry mush, then the sweetened reduced milk.

Maple syrup is nice on it, too.

(note: all measurements may be wildly inaccurate)
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:11 AM on June 16, 2009

Good bread, preferably a nice French baguette. A little cinnamon in the egg mix. Real butter. Real maple syrup. Fake maple syrup is an abomination. hmmm, a hint of cardamom might be really awesome, will try it.
posted by theora55 at 10:21 AM on June 16, 2009

If you're going with a milk/eggs/vanilla/sugar approach, you want the bread to be as dry as possible pre-soak. If you're not using stale bread, toast the bread slightly to give it a similar texture (but not enough to brown it -- toasting it in an oven will work better than in a toaster).
posted by sleepingcbw at 10:22 AM on June 16, 2009

Can you clarify *which* side of the mississip' you're referring to?
posted by spinturtle at 11:01 AM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

When we have bananas going brown, I make sourdough banana bread (replace liquid in sourdough bread recipe with mashed bananas) with extra honey and then use that to make french toast. Them's good eatin's.

(note, apostrophes non-possesive)
posted by qldaddy at 11:36 AM on June 16, 2009

I get the best texture when I dip the bread twice. In one container, mix the milk or half & half with a little vanilla and maybe a dash of sugar or molasses or maple syrup. In the other, beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. Soak the bread in the milk mixture, THEN dip it in the egg. You get a meltingly soft inside and a perfect crust outside.
posted by bassjump at 12:42 PM on June 16, 2009

No recipe to share, just a tip: Use day old bread to avoid sogginess... Alton Brown says so.
posted by goml at 2:32 PM on June 16, 2009

My french toast recipe is the 2007 Cook's Illustrated one. This recipe is the ONLY one to use. It almost tastes deep fried. Oh man oh man. The key is some flour in the egg mixture.
posted by ms.v. at 9:04 PM on June 16, 2009

I've mixed some white porto into the batter, and then served it with strawberries and real maple syrup - exquisite.
posted by Billegible at 10:06 PM on June 16, 2009

No recipe, just another tip. Replace all or portion of regular milk or half-and-half with sweetened condensed milk.
posted by Muirwylde at 10:27 PM on June 16, 2009

I've made delicious vegan french toast using eggs and soymilk in place of eggs/milk (although I am not even a vegetarian). It's delicious but requires a litte more attention since the sugars of the banana can burn very easily.

For the traditional egg mixture, adding a spoonful of yogurt adds wonderful flavor and in my opinion improves the overall texture.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:58 AM on June 17, 2009

eggs are not vegan
posted by caddis at 10:06 AM on June 17, 2009

I think it was a typo. Deathalicious is making french toast with a mixture of banana and soymilk, which is vegan, and sounds pretty deathalicious!
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:24 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Add Gran Marnier or other orange liqueur, along with the range of options listed above. See recipe 1, recipe 2.

For further (tipsy) decadence, try Gran Marnier syrup, too.

Note: I am not a lush, nor am I original in thinking of this. I first tasted such wonderful stuff at a restaurant in Washington DC, at dinner time, after I commented to the folks I was with about how delicious that sounded, and how sad I was to be leaving before this weekend-only special was available. Magically, this appeared after dinner. Sadly, I can't remember the name of the restaurant.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:13 PM on June 17, 2009

My roommate from Africa used to make french toast with a load of black pepper and curry powder in it. It was surprisingly delicious. I am not sure what it entailed but it was probably similar to this:
posted by jasondigitized at 5:58 PM on June 17, 2009

1. Basic:

Two eggs, fairly loosely whisked together with a fork (I like a bit of white/yolk marbling on my French Toast), a generous pinch of paprika, salt, black pepper. 2 thick slices of white bread, preferably from yesterday's loaf soaked in the eggy mixture. Fry in lots of butter.

2. All Day Breakfast:

As above, but fry a couple of rashers of bacon and a slice of lorne sausage first, remove from the pan and quickly fry the eggy bread in the bacon/sausage fat (add butter if there's not enough), then when the eggy bread is almost done, spread one side of each slice with HP Sauce and make a sandwich with the bacon, sausage and a couple of thin slices of cheese (eg., a relatively mild cheddar) and fry it until the cheese has melted. Optional extras: crumbled black pudding, wilted spinach, mushrooms, &c.

3. Egg Overdose:

Before you soak the bread (cut very thick), make a hole in the middle with a biscuit cutter, then drop an egg into the hole once the bread is in the pan. Fry on a lower heat than usual, so the central egg has time to set before you flip the bread. Ideally, the white of the central egg will set but the yolk will be very runny, so once you've cut into it, you can spread your eggy bread with egg yolk.

All Day Breakfast Egg Overdose:

2., using a slice of 3. for the top layer of the sandwich. (Yes, I have made this. Yes, I do expect to die of a heart attack.)
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 7:43 AM on June 18, 2009

Day late; dollar short. Place I used to work at, we had a crust of corn flakes and sliced almonds. We also had Challah in standard loaf, not braided, which I used for staff. It was much better than the 6" square of Brioche, that had a plug of almond paste inside. It was also served with ice cream! People bought it, and surprisingly, no one died. Aside from the crust, the other wonderful item with this dish was duck bacon. Massive Magret breasts, thin-sliced like brisket, then seasoned (chipotle, salt and pepper), then dusted with brown sugar.
Quick note on stuffed FT I didn't see mentioned; croissants. Only thing is, given their shape, they're best deep fried.
posted by JABof72 at 11:49 AM on June 18, 2009

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