We love french toast and often eat it weekly. French toast was created as a budget-friendly breakfast using a couple of eggs, some dairy, and whatever stale bread you had. It has now become a highly customizable and decadent breakfast treat. Let’s be honest it is basically dessert for breakfast. Below are some tips on how to make the best french toast.
- Avoid pre-sliced bread. Slicing your own bread allows you to control the thickness of the slices. Ideally, your slices should be ½ to 1 inch thick.
- Use dry bread, it will soak up more custard. I like to shop in the discounted section of the bakery at my local store. I can save a little money and most of the loaves of bread have already started drying out which makes them great for french toast.
- Mix the custard well. Use room temperature ingredients for your custard and mix them well. You don’t want strings of egg white showing up on you perfectly browned french toast.
- Bacon Grease: Before cooking french toast, I like to fry some bacon so that I have the bacon grease to coat my pan with.
The best bread for french toast
These are some of the best types of bread for classic homemade french toast:
- Brioche: Brioche is enriched with butter and eggs, which gives it a rich buttery flavor. It maintains its shape well and makes french toast that has a creamy center and crispy sides.
- Challah: Challah has been enriched with eggs but contains no dairy. It is often sold as a loaf which makes it perfect for slicing into thick slices for your french toast.
- Potato Bread: Potato bread is sweet and spongy. The potato starch helps the bread to suck up the custard while maintaining its shape.
- Sourdough: Sourdough’s tartness helps to counterbalance the sweetness of french toast.
- French Bread: French bread has a chewy texture and can soak in the custard for a long time without becoming soggy.
But I like to experiment. Here are some alternative types of breads you can try:
- Glazed or Cake Doughnuts: Slice each doughnut in half and make sure to dip them quickly. I also suggest using heavy cream to make a thicker custard.
- English Muffins: All of those nooks and crannies do a great job of soaking up the custard while maintaining its shape.
- Flavored Loaves of Bread: There are so many delicious options; apple, cinnamon raisin, blueberry, lemon, chocolate, banana and so many more. Often these loaves are presliced so make sure to dip them quickly.
- Muffins: I recommend using muffins for baked french toast. Tear the muffins into pieces and place them into a square baking dish. Pour the custard over the muffins making sure each piece is saturated. Cover the dish with foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the french toast is firm.
- Bagels: Slice each bagel into 1-inch slices like you would a baguette.
- Croissants: Slice each croissant in half and dip quickly.
How to dry out the bread
If the bread doesn’t seem dry enough, I lay the slices out on a wire rack the night before. If you are in a hurry you can also place the bread on a sheet pan in a 275-degree oven for 10 minutes.
What types of dairy can you use to make the french toast custard?
Skim, 2%, Whole, Half and Half, Heavy Cream, Buttermilk, Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk and even Eggnog all make delicious options depending on how rich you want your custard to be and any dietary restrictions you may have. The higher the fat content the creamier the batter. I can’t think of any “milk” that wouldn’t work well for french toast.
What can you use to flavor french toast?
Most traditional french toast recipes use vanilla in the batter. But why not change the flavor up a bit? Try substituting one of these ingredients.
- Cocoa Powder or Peanut Butter Powder
- Your favorite liqueur: My favorites include, Grand Marnier, Disorono, Chombard, or spiced rum.
- Citrus Zest and Juice: I love the refreshing citrus flavor and it helps to cut through the sweetness.
- Another Extract: Try almond, berry or even mint.
How long should you soak the bread?
Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Your bread needs time to soak up all of the delicious custard. Especially if you are using thick slices of bread. Soak the bread for at least 5 minutes.
How long should you cook french toast?
Cook french toast over medium heat or 350 degrees Fahrenheit on a griddle. You don’t want the temperature too high or you will burn the outside and still have a soggy uncooked inside. But if the heat is too low you will dry out the bread completely waiting for the outside to brown. Medium heat will give you a crisp crust and soft center. This should take about three to four minutes per side.
How to keep french toast warm
Feeding a crowd? Keep already cooked french toast warm in the oven while you cook the remaining slices. Preheat your oven to its lowest setting. Place the cooked french toast in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Toppings to try
- Cream Cheese
- Ricotta Cheese
- Fresh or Cooked Fruit
- Chocolate Sauce
- Fruit Sauce
- Whipped Cream
- Peanut Butter
- Toasted Nuts
- Breakfast Cereal
- Powdered Sugar
Can you save the unused batter?
French toast batter can be refrigerated in a sealed container. I recommend using it within a day or two. I don’t recommend freezing french toast batter.
When I make french toast I like to think of it as a formula, not a recipe. This makes it easy to scale the recipe to make french toast for one, two, or many.
How to freeze
One of my favorite things about french toast is it freezes so well.
- Once the french toast has cooled place the slices in a single layer on a sheet pan.
- Place the sheet pan in the freezer until the french toast slices have frozen.
- Place the french toast in a zip-top bag and label with the contents and date.
- For maximum freshness eat the frozen french toast within three months.
- To reheat, place the french toast on a sheet pan and cover with foil. Bake it in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Or simply toast the slices in your toaster.
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. of granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup of dairy
- 1 splash of Vanilla
- A pinch of salt
- 2 slices of bread
- A sprinkle of Cinnamon and Nutmeg
- Preheat your griddle to 350 degrees or a large skillet on medium heat.
- In a square baking dish, whisk the egg and sugar together until smooth.
- Add the dairy, vanilla, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Dip each slice of bread into the custard mixture. Times will vary based on the thickness and dryness of your slices. You are looking for the sweet spot of maximum custard absorption without soaking so long that your bread begins to fall apart.
- Coat the griddle or skillet with the fat of your choice. (non-stick spray, a 50/50 mixture of butter and neutral oil, or bacon grease)
- Place each slice on the electric griddle or pan and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Flip each slice once the bottom has become nice and toasty. This will take about 3 to 4 minutes.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 2 slices of bread
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 283Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 186mgSodium: 509mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 12g
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What are some of your favorite ways to customize your french toast?