Friday, June 3, 2011
Fruity French Toast
I adore breakfast food, anytime of day and I’m sure many of you will agree with me. Sometimes savory and sometimes sweet, it’s all good!
Many years ago, right after college, my friend Rebecca and I shared an apartment in Los Angeles (Redondo Beach, specifically). Our favorite part of the apartment was its location a block from the beach, which helped nurture the sun goddess in each of us. Our next favorite thing was the old (charming?) kitchen with its pink and turquoise tiles. So retro and cool! We spent a lot of time in this kitchen discovering the fun of cooking together and creating new dishes. Lots of giggling and mishaps from two 22 year old girls, as well...
Our favorite meal was breakfast. Every weekend we went out at least once to a diner or local breakfast spot and often we made breakfast for each other. Rebecca’s specialties included lemon poppy seed scones, blueberry muffins, scrambled eggs served with a delicious tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese, and blanched asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. Our absolute favorite was banana pancakes and it was our quest to find the best ones at the diners we frequented.
One year for Rebecca’s birthday I wanted to make a fruity French toast. I didn’t want to spend the morning standing over the stove, so decided to try baking it instead with fruit. More time for mimosas and chatting on the balcony! The result was quite yummy. The French toast was crispy on the outside and custardy on the inside. I’ve since expanded the ease of making this to include soaking the French toast overnight so very little prep is needed in the morning. It’s a great dish to add to your brunch menu or to give you more time to visit with your out-of-town guests.
I make it here with raspberries, cherries and bananas, but you can use whatever fruit you prefer (I encourage you to include bananas).
Fruity French Toast
1 large loaf of brioche or challah
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
½ cup maple syrup
4 bananas, sliced
24 ounces fruit, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries (frozen works very well)
The night before serving, slice the bread into 10 thick slices. Whisk the eggs, milk, baking powder and vanilla together in a bowl. Dip each piece of bread into the mixture and place on a rimmed baking pan. You may have to layer a bit to make them fit. Pour any extra egg mixture over the top evenly, cover with plastic wrap and pop into the fridge.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the maple syrup, bananas and fruit together in a bowl. Butter two 9x13 baking dishes and divide the fruit mixture between the dishes. Using a spatula, carefully lay the slices of soaked bread on top of the fruit. Bake the French toast until it is golden brown, about 25 minutes. To serve, scoop and flip each piece onto the plates so the fruit is on top. Enjoy with coffee, or better yet a mimosa and a dear friend.