Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Baked French Toast.
One of my favorite things about reading food writing is learning that someone else has experienced the embarrassment, failure, and frustration that often comes with culinary self-indoctrination.
I recently finished reading The Amateur Gourmet by Adam Roberts. In the introduction, he attempts to make a fish en papillote with wax paper. He also forgets the butter in a very expensive coffee cake, and ruins several batches of Nancy Silverton's caramel corn. It was so nice to see that someone else feeds his garbage can on a regular basis.
Perfection seems to be the ideal in cooking and blogging. We'd like to pretend all of our photos and baked goods are perfect. We'd like to appear as though we can manage a career, a family, a budget, a social life, an education, and a culinary schedule that involves cooking multiple times a day, blogging, maintaining a flickr page, participating in on-line events, reading food magazine and news articles, and watching a good dose of food television.
If you can manage all of that, congratulations. No wonder bloggers are dying of heart attacks. Just in the process of writing this post I have ruined a batch of buttercream (this buttercream, in fact).
I am giving you this recipe I made last week for two reasons: it's insanely easy to make, and it takes like it took three times as much effort. Cooking really doesn't have to take a ton of effort, and if you're like me you could use a break. A break that includes a really indulgent, badly photographed breakfast.
Deep Dish Brioche French Toast
adapted from Leite's Culinaria
Butter for greasing the pan
One 24-oz brioche or challah loaf, cut into 1 inch cubes
8 oz cream cheese, cut into 18 cubes (I prefer much smaller cubes)
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup raisins (or dried cherries, or fresh blueberries, etc.)
8 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
4 tbsp melted butter
Pure maple syrup, warmed
1. Generously butter a 9x13 inch baking dish (I used a glass pyrex). Place half the bread cubes in a single layer, filling in all the gaps. Evenly scatter the cream cheese cubes, nuts, and raisins on top. Cover completely with the remaining bread cubes.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Evenly pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Gently press down on the cubes with your palms to allow the top layer of bread to absorb the liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate four hours or overnight.
3. Heat the oven to 350F (175C). Meanwhile, remove the dish from the refrigerator and let sit 20 minutes at room temperature. Bake the french toast covered for 20 minutes; uncover and bake 15-20 minutes longer, or until the cubes are nicely toasted and there's no liquid pudding on the bottom. Transfer the dish to a rack and drizzle the melted butter on top. Run a knife around the rim of the pan to release the french toast. Let sit 5 minutes. Cut into squares, arrange on individual plates, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve with the warmed maple syrup.
at 3:25 PM