Saturday, February 5, 2011

Creme Brulee French Toast

From the day he arrived in this world, Abbott was an early riser. I wouldn't go get him from his crib until 5:00am, even though I started hearing noises from his room around 4:40am every single morning from the time he had a semblance of a sleep schedule. Most of our friends' babies, and, later, toddlers, had similar biological clocks, though perhaps not quite so extreme, so the majority of our entertaining at that point in our lives took place early in the day. Our kids were all asleep by 7pm; dinner parties didn't happen very often. One of my recipes in regular rotation for those gatherings was a french toast recipe with an orange flavor base that involves baking the toast instead of frying it. This leaves you free to get the rest of the food on the table, and then everything can be hot and ready at the same time.

I received Melissa Clark's new book, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, for Christmas, and was very happy to find in it a version of french toast similar to what I've made for years. I like her recipe, because there's no need to add syrup or anything else - it's perfect just as it is. The butter-brown sugar mixture carmelizes on the bread as it bakes, creating a creme brulee type topping.

The recipe calls for a baguette. Use what you have on hand, or what you like. I happened to have orange blossom water on hand, purchased recently for another recipe. I couldn't find it available locally and ordered it online here.

Creme Brulee French Toast with Orange Blossom Water
slightly adapted from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark

1 cup packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons orange blossom (flower) water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (10-ounce) French baguette, sliced diagonally, 1 inch thick (about 20 slices) (or 4-5 slices of challah or other bread)

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk together the brown sugar and butter until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into a large rimmed baking sheet (11 x 17).

2. In a pie pan or other shallow dish, combine the eggs, milk, orange juice, orange blossom water, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Coat both sides of the bread slices in the egg mixture, letting the bread soak up the custard for a minute or two on each side, until saturated but not falling apart. Place the soaked slices on the prepared baking sheet over the brown sugar mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops of the bread are golden brown and the sugar is bubbling.

3. Serve immediately while still hot, with the crunchy brown sugar side up.


Emily said...

oh, early risers!! we are the same way. i feel doubtful that it will ever be outgrown though. my six year old is allowed to get out of bed at 6:00, a rule we implemented after his wake up time began getting earlier than 4:30am. ack! he prefers to be in bed by 7:00pm. crazy kid. my younger two will sleep a bit later, and go to bed later as well. but not much!!!

that french toast looks SO good. i haven't made french toast in ages because of my middle daughter's egg allergy. i miss it!

have a great weekend!

leedav said...

I love that the bread looks like a cloud.

Vanessa said...

I used to be an early riser myself as a child and later as a teenager, waking up to listen to the breakfast radio at 6:00! Now I have problems getting up by 7:00am and would prefer 8am. This French toast looks and sounds heavenly - I too love the cloud shape and the clementines at the side of the plate.

Vanessa said...

I'm not a morning person at all, but breakfast is just the best meal of the day! I guess that's why they invented brunch, huh? I'm bookmarking this recipe for the future, because it looks ridiculously delicious.

Lyndsay said...

OH MY GOSH!!! That is the most perfect post to go with your blog title, ever! And I love that the toast looks like a little cloud. Quite possibly the most delicious-looking food post I've seen. I need to buy bread. Stat!

Theresa said...

Delicious, and I am happy to see you again :)

Sammi said...

yum yum!!

Francesca said...

I am (now) the early riser, but I don't enjoy making breakfast much and cooking first thing in the morning, especially as I don't ever eat breakfast.

pve design said...

I have been an early worm my entire life....I love the morning and waking up to make meaningful meals. Often I am cooking dinner early to anticipate sharing a meal with my family.
That book looks delightful - I must add this to my collection.

KPiep said...

Abbott and Gillian have much in common!

cate said...

yum. my husband makes his french toast the same way! only, sometimes, he uses a bit of bacon fat. it's horrible, shameful, and completely delicious. only to be eaten every once in a great while, of course. your FT looks so good, lecia! thanks for sharing the recipe here.

songbird said...

My daughter would love this recipe. Just wondering where I would find the orange blossom (flower) water?

Any tips?

Thank you,

songbird said...

Whoops, found your link to Amazon for the orange blossom water!

Looking forward to making this for my family.

Thank you,

molly said...

ahhh, at least he's early to bed, early to rise. i've one who's early on one end, late on the other ... not so great sleep genes on my side of the family!

how did i never notice challah looks exactly like a cloud? how perfectly dreamy (yikes, bad pun and all!)

christy said...

my hubby is a baker and his yummy organic artisan bread would be perfect for to find some orange blossom water!