Tuesday, May 14, 2013

baked cinnamon french toast

Sunday morning I spent some time in the kitchen, doing some easy baking. It was mother's day, and while Bunny and I didn't really make a big deal out of it, there were flowers and we did make brunch for my mom. Breakfast foods aren't really my deal. I mean, I make some mean variations on pancakes don't get me wrong and I can make a very satisfying pot of oatmeal if you give me a pile of steel-cut oats, but that's about it. Bacon and eggs make me a little queasy, so I never perfected my technique.

Given that Bunny is the designated egg fryer in this relationship we let him take the lead on the bacon and eggs portion of brunch. We wanted something fancier than pancakes and it also seemed wise to have something that let me stay out of the way while Bunny was egg frying.

Which brought up baked French toast. There are two things I want to tell you about baked French toast. Actually, three things, but who's counting? First this is easy as pie. Toast up some bread in the oven, just lightly. Place in pan, cover in a milk/egg mixture. Bake. Eat. Secondly this is easy. You will enjoy the eating of this. You may eat an entire batch between three people and not feel a little bit guilty. The way that the egg soaks and bakes into the bread, and the little cinnamon sugar sprinkle makes this seem almost like biting into a really good cinnamon roll, without half of the work.

The third thing is the kicker, though. If you are me, while you are eating this your mind will be full of the fifteen things you can do differently next time to make this even more awesome. You will say "I would put maple syrup right into the custard" because its so delicious with Aunt Jemima on top. You will say "I would use chunks of bread, not slices" because of some mental math about how to get the perfect density of bread in the pan. You will say "maybe I'd use cream instead of milk, make it richer" because at this point you're thinking of turning the whole thing into bread pudding and making it dessert. You will say "I'd use stale bread instead of toasting it" because you are both impatient and slightly lazy. If you're me, that is.

Either way, making this again is certain. And when I say this is easy I'm not lying, I promise. My version here is a cross between the Martha Stewart and Smitten Kitchen versions of baked French toast. But again, dead easy. You could wing this.

Cinnamon Baked French Toast

Ingredients
  • 1 loaf of bread (I used plain old D'Italiano white bread, because we have it on hand. You can certainly jazz this up)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups milk
    • You can play with this. I used straight milk, but you can certainly substitute part of the milk with cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • butter or margarine for spreading
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. Lay sliced bread on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Toast until the bread begins to lightly brown.
  3. Grease a 9x13 baking pan.
  4. In a small bowl mix 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg.
  5. Lightly butter. Use your own judgment here - if you like buttery things, butter those babies up. I just barely buttered them.
  6. Sprinkle the spiced sugar mixture over the buttered sides of the bread.
  7. Layer the toasty slices in your baking pan.
  8. In a mixing bowl, beat your eggs. Add the milk and vanilla, as well as the remaining 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Wisk them all together.
  9. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, trying to make sure you coat each slice.
  10. Pop it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.
  11. Serve. Maple syrup and whipped cream are optional.

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