Recipe: French toast five ways

My youngest daughter, Rylan, 2.5, helping with the egg mixture for a Sunday Morning Classic.

Depending on the occasion, I have several ways to prepare this dish, and some of them are so easy a child can do it…and has.

If you’re reading this blog, odds are you are a foodie. And as a foodie, you’ve probably watched at least five episodes of Food Network’s show Chopped. And of those five episodes of Chopped, I can guarantee you, at least one of the people who made it to the final round had made French toast.

On Chopped, French toast seems to be one of the top dishes prepared for the desert round. I don’t really understand why French toast is in the desert round since it’s typically a breakfast food, at least in our home. Maybe brunch if it’s feeling ambitious, or dinner if I want to indulge. In my house, we make French toast in some fashion about once a week. And here’s how…in five ways.

Version No. 1 – Sunday Morning Classic. You will need:

  • 1 loaf of bread; my family prefers French bread
  • 1 egg for each person for whom you are serving; in my house it’s five
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup milk; we use 2-percent
  • 1 tbsp butter

Cut loaf into 1-inch slices. in a large bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and milk, whisk thoroughly. You’ll need a large skillet or pan and once you’ve found it, melt the butter  in. While the butter is melting, submerge your loaf (one slice at a time) into your egg mixture. You want each slice to be in the egg mixture at least five seconds each side. You do not want to drown them-that’s the baking method-I’ll give you that recipe later.

Now take your dipped slices and individually apply them to the pan. You want to cook them to medium golden brown- and don’t crowd the pan, steamed bread not so yummy- crust is good! Each slice will want to lay in the pan approximately five minutes on side A and three minutes on side B. Your objective is to cook them through but not over cook them…like cooking anything else for that matter. Ha.

Version No. 2 – The Baking Method. You will need:

  • The same ingredients as listed above.

Cut or dice the loaf into 1-inch CUBES. In a large bowl combine 5-6 eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, milk and melted butter; whisk thoroughly. Is this sounding familiar? Ha. You’ll need a 9″ x 3″ baking pan or loaf pan. Once the egg mixture ingredients have incorporated, add in your cubed loaf. Gently fold to combine. Let the mixture sit aside while the oven preheats to 350-degrees.

Once the oven has reached temperature, pour the mixture into your baking pan. Bake until the eggs have set. This should take about 20 minutes.

Version No. 3 – The Fat Girl Inside. You will need:

  • The same ingredients as listed in Version No. 1; however, omit the 1/2 cup of milk and replace it with…
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Combine the ingredients the same as in Version No. 1. The egg mixture should be much thicker which will result in a much more decadent French toast, thus “the fat girl inside.” 🙂

Version No. 4 – Filled and Devoured. You will need:

  • 1-loaf of bread, french or Texas toast will work best
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1-8oz container of either cream cheese or marscapone, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp jam, flavoring of choice, we like blackberry best
  • 1 tbsp butter

Beat cream cheese or marscapone in a bowl until smooth and add jam; mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl combine milk, eggs and cinnamon; set aside. If you’re using a loaf, such as French bread (not Texas toast that has already been sliced), cut the bread into 1.5-inch slices. You’ll want thicker bread for this to prevent the filling from spilling out.

Once you’ve sliced your bread to desired thickness, make another slice into the center of the bread along the top crust.

You want to create an opening large enough to fit a finger. Insert your finger through the opening and move the inside of the slice to the sides, creating a pocket and making room for the filling.

Now fill it. You can either use a piping bag or a plastic bag as a makeshift piping bag. You could even use a spoon or a knife, whatever works best for you to stuff that bread! You’ll want to put 1-2 tbsp of the filling into each slice but be careful you don’t over-stuff, broken filled French toast in a skillet is a MESS to clean! Complete cooking process as in Version No. 1 (ie dipping slices into egg mixture and cook in melted/buttered skillet).

Version No. 5 – The Big Cheat. You will need (serves four):

  • 1 can cinnamon rolls; we like the Kroger store brand because they are extra buttery
  • 4 large eggs plus one extra egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a 9″ x 3″ baking pan or loaf pan, use a basting brush to apply the melted butter evenly to the pan. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and milk or cream. When you open the can, take the cinnamon roll out and cut each cinnamon roll into six pieces. However you achieve your six pieces is up to you; in half, with some sort of shape or flare, whatever. Add the cuts to the egg mixture and fold gently. Pour the contents of the bowl into the pan and brace yourself. Bake between 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.

Topping’s (also known as: One of the best parts)

My children are traditional in that they like warmed maple syrup, but here are a few other ideas.

Flavored Butter. If it’s berry season, macerate the berries of your choice; again we prefer blackberries, but any berry will do or combination thereof. 1/4 cup berries. 1 stick room-temp butter. 1 tsp sugar. Combine in a bowl. Roll into a log using plastic wrap and freeze. The butter combination will last up to six months. Or try – the zest of one lemon, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tbsp honey, 1 stick room-temp butter. This combination works for more of a savory French toast or even on top of a pork chop or chicken… My family has also been known to add almond butter, peanut butter or just regular butter on top of our French toast.You could even try peanut butter and jelly with French toast.

If you’re short on time but want something elegant, 1 cup of jam/jelly (flavor of your choice) into a small pot, bring to a simmer. Pour generously over french toast and dust with powdered sugar. Or try using a canned pie filling, again heat in a small pot and dust with powdered sugar (cherry is my favorite, hubs likes apple).

How about bananas foster french toast? You’ll need one sliced banana, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tbsp butter. Combine ingredients and add to a small saute pan, cook on medium until sugar has dissolved into a sauce. Viola!

I could get on board with thinking of French toast as a desert as much as it is created on Chopped. It would require hot fudge, sliced strawberries and whipped cream. But then again, add chocolate to anything and I’m pretty much on board. Truly endless possibilities.

—I wonder if stale donuts would make a good French toast. Problem is, you first have to have stale donuts.





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