Did You Know? French toast was created by medieval European cooks who needed to use every bit of food they could find (including day-old bread) to feed their families. The term "french toast" first appeared in print in the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink in 1871.
As I've mentioned before, most Sundays at my house begin with a family-style breakfast. My sister and I are usually home from school for the weekend, along with my brother and his girlfriend, Caitlin. It's one of my favorite parts about coming home from school. We laugh, we eat, and there's always way too many cooks in the kitchen.
Caitlin loves watching me cook and photograph for Buff Chickpea. She loves browsing through other food blogs, in hopes of recreating something that has sparked her interest. This particular recipe is her first (of many) contribution to Buff Chickpea. And although it took some coaxing to get her to make it completely on her own, the result could not have been better.
A warm, bread pudding-like base, and glazed in a sugary-pecan coating, this french toast took the ordinarly soggy breakfast to new heights. The bread itself was soft, but not overly so. The moisture level was spot on, and the crispy topping worked wonderfully against the custard base. Served with warmed maple syrup, and a dusting of powdered sugar, a second piece will be calling you shortly. Thanks Cait!
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 loaf Italian bread, cut in 1" thick slices
3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons white sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon, plus additional for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Adapted from Paula Deen
1 stick butter, slightly softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons golden syrup (or light corn syrup)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
The Night Before
Liberally grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with butter, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of white sugar.
Arrange bread in the pan in two tightly-packed layers. Make sure to fill in any spaces with torn pieces of bread, so that the custard does not leak to the bottom.
Whisk the milk, eggs, remaining sugars, cinnamon, salt and extracts, and pour over the bread. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon and sugar.
Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The bread will absorb all of the sugary custard while you catch up on your zzz's.
The Next Morning
Make the praline topping: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Spread over french toast.
Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
Cut into generous squares and serve with maple syrup and powdered sugar.
On a side note, I just wanted to send a HUGE thank you to Julia of Dozen Flours for generously sending a sweet 'n salty candy apple my way over the weekend. It was completely devoured within minutes of arrival, and held to high acclaims from everyone in my household. Declared as the best candy apple ever eaten, I'll have to try my hardest on my next dessert to win them back. Thanks Julia, for having such a giving spirit and kind heart.