After yesterday's whining about my family's divergent food preferences, I thought I'd admit that are actually a few items that everyone will eat -- breakfast foods, like pancakes, waffles and French toast. I have excellent recipes for all three. I serve them with some kind of breakfast meat and fruit -- not terribly healthy, but it's easy and it makes everyone happy.
French toast can be made from just about any kind of bread, but my favorite is made from cinnamon swirl bread, specifically the cinnamon swirl bread from a chain called Great Harvest Bread Co. The bread originated at a nice local bread chain called Montana Mills, which was very popular here in the 90s. Since then, the chain has gone through a few owners, but most recently was taken over by Great Harvest (although Montana Mills still appears online). Their cinnamon swirl bread is a heavy, round loaf, with a thick swirl of cinnamon.
One day, I thought I'd try something easier so I decided to make Baked French Toast, which calls for you to soak the bread overnight, then bake it the next day. My cousin, Kristen, served it to us once when we stayed with them in Crystal Lake, Illinois. It was delicious, and it sounded convenient and easy. I didn't have the recipe she used, so I found a recipe on Epicurious that had received good reviews.
When it came out of the oven, I thought it looked as good as Kristen's.
But when I went to serve it, the bottoms were completely soggy and uncooked. Ick. If there's anything I'm squeamish about, it's undercooked eggs (unless they are in cookie dough). I flipped the French toast and finished it in the oven. It ended up being ok, but I didn't think I saved myself very much time, and the results are better on the griddle. I wonder if the bread was more dense than the bread called for in the recipe. If you want to try it, here's the recipe on Epicurious.
For now, I'll stick with my tried and true recipe:
Cinnamon Swirl French Toast
3/4 cups milk
2 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus more for cooking
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
About 1/2 loaf of Great Harvest Cinnamon Swirl Bread (I also love challah bread for French toast, but sandwich bread will work too.)
Heat an electric nonstick griddle to 350 degrees. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Meanwhile, beat egg in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Add milk, butter, and vanilla, then sugar, flour and salt, and whisk until smooth. Soak bread without saturating. Pick up bread and allow excess batter to drip off.
Place on nonstick griddle and cook until golden brown. Transfer to oven until all pieces are done. Serve immediately.