Brioche French Toast

French toast is one of those basic life skills that everyone should know right up there with how to read a map, mix a cocktail, and write a check. These are things you need to know.

At its core, French Toast is an excuse to eat fried cake for breakfast and if you are going to have fried bread as a meal you might as well make it right. So, let’s talk about how to make awesome French Toast.


We’re aiming for a crisp exterior, a soft, slightly sweet, creamy interior, and a taste that reminds you of fried carnival dough. Remember this isn’t a health item. Let’s leave terms like “low-cal” and “eat healthy” at the door for this one, ok?

French Toast has few ingredients so each one counts. Use the best quality you can afford like fresh eggs with deep orange yolks, local half-and-half, and a good, buttery brioche will serve you well. Some people prefer challah, but I prefer brioche. It has a tight crumb, a great flavor, and won’t get too soggy.

I said French Toast is simple, and it is. But there is one step that requires a little forthright. The bread needs to be stale. You might think this is optional, but let me tell you again. The bread needs to be stale so it can absorb every last bit of custard and create that creamy center. If you don’t have stale bread, “make” it by leaving it out the night before. It’s worth it.

All that is left is to whip up the egg-milk mixture. We want to avoid a thin lifeless custard but don’t want to soak our break in melted ice cream either (or do we? No, we don’t. Well, maybe just once to try…). Use a ratio of 2 eggs to 1 cup of half-and-half and you won’t be steered wrong. A splash of vanilla, a bit of orange zest, or a pinch of nutmeg won’t hurt either.

After a dip in the egg and cream mixture, the bread is ready to be fried in a neutral oil with a high smoke point like vegetable oil until crispy and golden brown. When pouring your oil, use half as much oil as the bread is thick. For example, my bread was about 1-1.5″ thick, so I heated about 1/2″ of oil. This way, you can ensure all sides of your bread will be fried.

Now, if you made it this far you will have thick slices of custardy bread that is crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. Finish off your breakfast cake with some maple syrup or, as I prefer, macerated strawberries with basil.

Breakfast perfection.

Brioche French Toast
Know this: Remember your ratio, use good quality ingredients, let your bread get stale and you’ll never make bad french toast again.
Brioche Fried French Toast
By Evan Kalman
Yields 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 slices of day old brioche bread – cut into 1.5″ thick slices
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • vegetable oil

Steps

The night before prepare the bread. Using a serrated knife, cut the loaf into a rectangle by removing the crust and the sides. Slice the loaf into the 1.5″ thick slices and cut into “sticks”.

The next day, heat 1/2″ inch of oil over moderate heat in a cast-iron or heavy bottom skillet.

While the oil is heating, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Dip the bread in the batter and let soak for a 30 seconds. Flip it over and soak it again for 30 more. Fry until golden brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve with macerated strawberries with basil.

Macerated Strawberries with Basil
By Evan Kalman
Yields 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 8oz (1/2 dry pint) of strawberries – small dice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 half of a lemon – juiced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt

Steps

Using a paring knife, remove the leaves and core from the strawberries. Cut each strawberry in half lengthwise then slice each half into 1/4″ slices. Rotate the slices by a quarter-turn and then slice again perpendicular to your last cuts. You should now have 1/4″ cubes. Move to a small mixing bowl.

Toss the diced strawberries with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Let stand for a few minutes before using to allow the fruit to macerate.

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