Breakfast is one of my favorite eating occasions for one reason, I get to eat dessert first thing in the morning! As a kid, French toast was my go-to selection whenever dining out on the weekends with my family, or at home on Sunday mornings.
French toast has evolved on restaurant menus to include versions using banana bread, baked like a custard in a cast iron pan, healthier whole wheat bread recipes, and even stuffed with creamy fillings.
Since I had made a fresh loaf of braided challah bread (a rich egg bread) and I didn’t want a single crumb to go to waste, I decided to make an irresistible strawberry french toast recipe!
I’ve attempted many renditions of french toast over the years and I realized that I had been making two big mistakes. The first blooper was that the bread I was using was too fresh, causing the custard batter to soak and disintegrate the toast before frying. You know, brands like Rainbow or Wonder bread that are meant to last for weeks on end. Yes, those just don’t make good french toast.
The other problem was the bread was sliced too thin, which not having pre-cut slices is the best option so you can control the thickness. I have found that 3/4-inch is a good slice size for french toast. If you have time to do some home baking or have a local bakery that makes fresh challah bread, that is absolutely the bread you should chose for the french toast recipe, I promise it is worth it and it will give you the best french toast you’ve ever tasted!
Right now strawberries are coming into season and you don’t need much sugar to make the berries extra sweet. For the strawberry topping, I added just a hint of granulated sugar, fresh lemon juice, and peel to balance the sweetness of the berries with a little bit of tartness.
Adding a little bit of sugar to cut berries helps to naturally bring out the juices from the fruit and become slightly thickened from the pectin in the berry. The challah bread I used was perfect for french toast because it is sturdy and thick enough to allow for the spiced honey custard mixture to easily soak up into the bread without becoming mushy or hard to fry. This gave the perfect crunchy texture on the exterior of the toast and a tender and moist custard interior of the bread.
To make this strawberry french toast recipe more decadent, I combined cream cheese with a little bit of powdered sugar and strawberry jam. The mixture of the golden brown pan-fried toast, stuffed with the sweet and tangy cream cheese filling, and topped with fresh berries and dusted with powdered sugar made for one of my favorite french toast recipes so far!
I also love Pure Maple Syrup so I wasn’t shy about adding a little extra to the strawberry french toast. I can’t wait to make this recipe for my friends and family on the weekends for brunch, or for a special occasion like Mother’s day!
TIP– French toast is also commonly known as “pain perdu” or “lost bread”, in French and New Orleans cuisine. French toast is best made with leftover, stale bread that has dried out a bit. Soaking the thick cut stale bread in a sweet milk and egg mixture, then pan frying to a golden brown helps to save that bread from being wasted or thrown away. A delicious way to enjoy your favorite fresh baked bread the next morning!