Growing up, getting French toast was a treat! Back then we used to call it Bombay Toast although by some accounts this rich, sweetened bread treat was neither created in France nor India. Regardless, we would somehow find renewed energy to get up for school should we get the smell of frying egg-soaked bread wafting through the house.
We are all grown up now but our appreciation for this breakfast treat remains. In fact, time has taught us new ways to make it – we can fry it, bake it or soak it in alcohol, make it savoury, make it sweet, serve it drenched in honey, powdered sugar or nothing at all.
We decided to revisit the French Toast as we really wanted to celebrate the French toast, embrace the spirit of mega breakfasts being offered by restaurants everywhere and make the most of sweet, colourful summer fruits and berries before the season ends. So inspired by this video of cheesy French Toast by YTower, we came up with our Ultra French Toast. This meal can fuel you for the entire day and yet, with minimal butter or oil, it is considerably less fattening that the traditional fry-in-butter-till-done variety.
- 2 thick slices of white bread [2 - 3.5 inch thick each]
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 150ml whole milk, room temperature
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp shaved blue cheese [or more to taste]
- 2 tbsp crumbled feta
- 2 tbsp/ 1 knob butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp nutmeg powder
- 1 tsp cayenne powder
- For garnish
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1 medium mango, diced
- Handful of mint, chifonnade
- Strawberry jam [Store-bought is fine, but for a quick homemade version, see below *]
- *For rustic strawberry jam
- A handful large strawberries [about 6 - 10 pieces], sliced
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- Honey to taste
- Prepare the custard. Beat the eggs, milk and honey together.
- Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds. Add the seeds to the custard mix, along with the salt. Beat the mixture until everything is incorporated.
- Place the bread slices in a large bowl and strain the custard mixture over the bread. Turn the bread over a couple of times to ensure each slices is well coated in the mixture. Place the remaining vanilla bean in with the custard to enhance the vanilla flavour.
- Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave in fridge overnight so that that the bread can absorb all that beautiful custard.
- When ready to make the french toast, preheat the oven to 180°C. While the oven is preheating, remove the bread from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
- Over medium heat, melt the butter in a pan large enough to fit both slices of bread.
- Shake of any access egg mixture from the bread and place both slices on the pan. Proceed to pan-fried the bread for about a minute and a half on each side, and don't forget the edges!
- Immediately transfer the bread onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, and into the oven they go for about 8 minutes.
- Remove the toast from the oven and cut squares into each slice for the cheese, about halfway through. Be careful not to cut all the way through the bread. [The bread will be hot so take care]
- Divide the blue and feta cheese into two portions, and stuff them into the cuts made in the bread. Return to oven for a further 5 minutes.
- *While the bread is in the oven, you can prepare the jam if making. Merely place the sliced strawberries in a microwave-proof container and top with sugar.
- Heat in the microwave at 10-second bursts, until the berries are soft enough to mush with a fork and the sugar is melted. Mix them together and taste. If still too sour, add some honey and return to the microwave for 10 or 20 more seconds. Your rustic jam is done.
- To serve up, place a slice of french toast on each plate. Sprinkle with cinammon, nutmeg and cayenne.
- Top with jam, mango, blueberries, mint and, if you have a particularly acute sweet tooth, drizzle lightly with more honey.
Don’t fret if you don’t have mangoes or blueberries, almost any seasonal fruits will do. That’s the beauty of this dish! For added crunch, top the dish with some toasted oats or crumble some butter cookies on top.
Just take care not to use a bread that is too dense, as it will not fully absorb the custard, and one that is too delicate as you want it to stand up to overnight soaking in it’s glorious egg bath.