It’s not a secret around these parts that I don’t really like breakfast. Never have. Since high school a spoonful of peanut butter has been an integral part of more of my breakfasts than I care to count. In fact, before this post Food With Legs had 20 posts in the Vegetables section but no section for breakfast.
A large part of why I have avoided writing about breakfast is that I didn’t really like eggs as a kid. The texture, the taste, even the appearance made them no-gos for me. But I’ve come around.
Baked eggs, fried eggs, omelettes, and frittata are now all part of my regular rotation. This weekend, with the help of a package generously provided by the Egg Farmers of Ontario I took a stab at knocking another breakfast item off the list of Foods I Hate: french toast.
Instead of just addressing what I don’t like about run-of-the-mill french toast I decided to set my sights on creating an “ultimate” version. Here I think it pays to consider what words are used to describe excellent french toast and the one that I couldn’t get away from was “custardy”.
It’s expected that the milky-eggy dip and the bread that soaks in it will hopefully, maybe come together to give the impression of custard. Screw that, I thought, why not just make a custard to dip the egg in?
My original thoughts, clouded by Suresh’s trip reports from NYC of Shake Shack’s frozen custard, involved sandwiching the eggy king of ice creams between brioche, freezing it overnight, battering and deep-frying the works the next morning. This was (wisely?) vetoed by my brunch partner.
Instead I made a standard custard and dipped the barely-toasted bread into it. I used the custard recipe from Ruhlman’s Ratio that is 4:1:1 cream:egg yolks:sugar by weight.
Custard is a relatively delicate preparation and throwing the bread into it did not do it any favours in the looks department. But, good Lord, did it ever taste good. The part that soaked into the bread was more milk (I subbed 2% for cream) but with enough yolk to enrich it and the part that stayed on the outside was smooth and rich with none of the off-putting and over-cooked egg texture that plagues most french toast.
I think that making the custard was worth it but I can see that it might just have been excluding the egg whites that made the difference. Now, this obviously doesn’t make the recipe any healthier and I’d love suggestions (other than meringues) for what to do with leftover egg whites.
The rest of the recipe was the Extra-Crisp French Toast from the January 2009 Cook’s Illustrated. The secret to it is to make cinnamon-sugar bread crumbs from a slice of bread and coat the custard-soaked bread in it. Worked perfectly for absolutely delicious results. For the full recipe I encourage you to head over to the CI site and subscribe to their online recipe database.
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