Makes 4 servings; six 1-inch-thick slices
French toast goes by the name pain perdu in France, which translates as “lost bread.” It’s a recipe created to save stale bread from being “lost” to the garbage by soaking it in eggs and milk to get it moist and tender again, and frying it up. Although you can certainly use whatever stale bread slices you have lingering in the fridge (except something strong-flavoured like rye), you’d be missing out on the wonderful richness that fresh challah provides (Love Note). A roll in cornflakes adds a wonderful, addictive crunch.
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup half-and-half
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups cornflakes (Love Note 1)
- 1 loaf egg (challah) bread, sliced into 6 one-inch-thick slices (Love Note 2)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (divided), preferably clarified
- Powdered sugar (optional)
1. If your pan isn’t big enough to cook all the French toast at the same time, preheat oven to 200°F. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, half-and-half, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg and vanilla.
2. Place cornflakes in another larger bowl and crush with your hands until pieces are small (but not like bread crumbs) and somewhat uniform in size. Place a rimmed baking sheet nearby to hold the prepared bread.
3. Dip a slice of bread into the cream mixture, immersing both sides (saturate it, but do not let fall apart.)
4. Dip the slice into the corn flakes on both sides, pressing to adhere the flakes; set aside on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining slices.
5. Place a griddle or wide (preferably 14-inch) sauté pan over medium heat for several minutes. If using an electric griddle, set the heat to 350 °F.
6. Sprinkle griddle with a few drops of water; they should bounce around before evaporating. If they sizzle away quickly, the heat is too high. If they just sit there and slowly steam, the heat is too low. When griddle is properly heated, add a tablespoon of clarified butter for each piece of French toast and tilt to coat the pan.
7. Add prepared bread in an even layer. Cook until golden on one side, about 4 minutes. Pick each toast up with a spatula and put ½ tablespoon butter in their spot. Flip the toasts onto the butter to cook the other side, about 4 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining slices of bread. Serve immediately or keep warm oven until all the French toast is cooked.
8. Cut each piece of bread in diagonally half to make triangles. Arrange like shingles on serving plates, sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired and serve with softened butter and maple syrup.
1. Challah (pronounced hall-uh) is a slightly sweet, eggy Jewish bread that’s becoming increasingly common at gourmet grocery stores and bakeries. Many bakeries often carry it only on Fridays, for the Jewish Sabbath. If you can’t find it, substitute any soft sweet bread, such as brioche, Hawaiian bread, or thick slices of Texas toast.
2. Clarified butter is important for this recipe because it allows you to cook the French toast at a high enough heat to get a proper sizzle going, ensuring the toasts stay crunchy. If the butter isn’t clarified, the milk solids will melt and impart moisture that can impede crunchiness. And when the solids inevitably burn, they’ll impart a burnt flavour to the food.