There is breakfast. You know, cereal, toast, porridge, a bit of fruit, yogurt, something grabbed from the coffee shop. Then there is brunch which, as far I am concerned, is just a bigger, often cooked breakfast so waffles, pancakes, eggs Benedict, scones, things that require more effort and are generally eaten at weekends. Then there is this, this being French toast from Plenty More.
And, really, there is no point me saying anything more about this. It is so bloody delicious that I want you to stop reading, go out and buy the ingredients now and make it. Want to know how enthusiastic I am? LOOK how many pictures I’ve taken. I want you to see every stage, to know how marvellously straightforward, yet just plain marvellous this is. It is a treat to end all treats and though I could go on, you really just have to try it.
The original recipe serves 8 (do people really have 7 guests for breakfast, except at Christmas, which is the last day of the year I would consider cooking this?) so I divided it, roughly, by 3 and it made a perfect amount for 2. The maths of that makes my head hurt but it worked. Off you go…
French toast (adapted from Plenty More)
NB You have to let the custard and the soaked brioche cool down before frying the toast, so you need a bit of time to make this (probably about an hour). You could soak the brioche the night before if you were really really organised…yeah, me neither.
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
whole milk, 200ml
caster sugar, 13g (I know, but it’s 40g for 8…)
unsalted butter, 20g or so (enough for frying)
orange, 1/3 or a clementine
vanilla pod, 1/3
double cream, 70ml
brioche loaf, 150g
icing sugar, 15g (a tablespoon or so)
sour cream, 80g, and maple syrup, to serve
1. Zest about a third of the orange, or all of the clementine, and put the zest into a saucepan. Split the vanilla pod third in half, scrape out the seeds into the same pan then add the rest of the pod to the pan. Pour in the milk and double cream, add the cinnamon stick then heat gently for about five minutes until it is just about to come to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190ºC/170ºC/gas 5 and line a square baking tin (mine’s 20cm) with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
3. Cut the brioche into thick slices and lay them in a single layer in the tin. It doesn’t need to be incredibly neat as you can see from this photo.
4. Once the cream has been cooling down for about 15 minutes, put the eggs and caster sugar in a large-ish bowl (you’re going to be adding the cream so it just needs to be big enough for that) and whisk well.
5. Pour the warm cream into the eggs, whisking all the time, then pour the mixture through a sieve to strain it and remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla.
6. Pour about 2/3rds of this custard over the brioche in the tin so that it is all soaked. (NB I found this made 350ml of custard and I dutifully poured 215ml over the brioche but, even after step 9, I still had a little left at the end so it’s not that precise a process.) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until it looks something like this…
9. Heat the butter in a non-stick frying pan until bubbling. Dip the squares of baked brioche into the custard, sprinkle with icing sugar…
then put them into the hot butter, sugar-side down. If it doesn’t sizzle a little turn the heat up a tad. Fry until golden brown (about 30 seconds to a minute) and, whilst frying, sprinkle the tops with a little more icing sugar. Turn the squares over and fry until brown on the other side. They should look something like this…
10. Remove from the pan and serve immediately with sour cream and maple syrup.
PS You can make a quicker version of this simply by dipping brioche slices into the custard and frying them. Not quite as decadent but still worth your time.