Sunday, February 16, 2014

Citrus Baked French Toast

        I must let you guys know the most important fact about this before I go any further: it is the most ridiculously simple, sweet breakfast, which yields irresistible results. You can throw it together in minutes the night before, get up on a lazy morning and put it in the oven for 30 minutes. Sip on your coffee and relax, then voila yourself and others will beam with happiness. 
      French toast already has a simplicity appeal.  However, this kicks it up a notch to essentially all hands off in the morning with still getting to eat an epic breakfast. Isn't that just so awesome? 
     It was particularly perfect for my purposes of a brunch potluck on Sunday. The night before, my roommate and I went out to a concert that we had been long awaiting. Around 8 o'clock, I took the whole 10 minutes this requires to put it together, placed it lovingly in my fridge, and prepared to dance the night away. 
        After a luxurious sleep-in sesh the next morning, I woke up, took it out of the fridge, preheated the oven, and popped it in. I walked away and got ready for company-you might be able to hear my sigh of relaxation right now. Thirty minutes later, I was meet with puffy topped, golden brown, custardy, warm, blissful French toast and the guests began to arrive. My friend was kind enough to bring a whiskey and cayenne maple syrup that make the custardy texture and bright citrus flavors simply sing with happiness in my mouth. 
      For brunch party folks or those simply wanting a mouth-watering, smell-wafting dish in their house on a lazy Sunday morning, I cannot emphasize enough how much this is for you. A lot of baked French toasts call for much more of everything: more eggs, both milk and cream, more this, more that. I can fully attest it is not necessary for the texture you seek. You only need the basic things you probably already have on hand to create a whimsical weekend morning of French toast, coffee, and appreciation of the finer things in life. 

1 loaf challah (nothing fancy needed)
3 c whole of 2% milk 
3 eggs
3 TBSP butter
3 TBSP brown sugar
1/2 TSP salt
1/4 TSP cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon

1. The day before, slice the challah in 3/4-1" slices. Lay it out and let it sit on your counter for the day, flipping over when you happen to be in the kitchen (no worries if you're not around though).
2. At night, arrange the slices in a 9x13 baking dish in two layers. Sprinkle half the zest on the first layer, lay down the second, and sprinkle the rest on top. 
3. In a bowl, melt the butter, let it cool for a few minutes. Next, whisk in the milk, eggs, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. 
4. Pour the mixture over the bread, cover, and place in the fridge over night. 
5. The next morning, take the French toast out, uncover and let it sit out while the oven preheats to 350F. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is lightly golden and puffed up. Remove, cool for 5 minutes and serve with butter and maple syrup.  

For the Whiskey Maple Syrup:
Melt 4 TBSP of butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Next add in 2 C pure maple syrup, 1/4 TSP cayenne, a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg, 1/4 C+ 1 TBSP whiskey, and stir until the ingredients have mixed together evenly. Remove from heat, allow the syrup to cool, and transfer into a glass serving bottle. 
This could be you. 
Boulder Butter 

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