Treat yourself or somebody special with this easy French toast breakfast! Indulge in crispy golden slices with custard-like centers. This recipe lightly toasts the bread to prevent them from getting soggy when dipping.
Be the breakfast hero! Serve thick slices of the best French toast recipe covered in powdered sugar and maple syrup. This meal is guaranteed to bring instant smiles. It’s a clever way to turn bland slices of bread into a lovely gourmet breakfast. The custardy coating is what makes each piece irresistible. It’s perfect for those laid-back weekend mornings or holiday times with family.
The technique for how to make French toast from scratch is straightforward. All you need are everyday pantry items like eggs, milk, brown sugar, spices, and vanilla then you’re ready to dip! Toast the bread, soak in the custard, and fry until crisp and puffy. You can now enjoy a homemade bistro-style dish without having to change out of your pajamas.
- Bread: Thick pieces of brioche, white, wheat bread, croissants, or even Hawaiian rolls. Leftover or slightly stale bread works best because it’s already dry. When very fresh, the bread can get soggy when dipped in the batter. A simple toasting technique helps to dry the pieces.
- French Toast Batter: A custard mixture that combines eggs, milk, brown or granulated sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Use heavy cream for a richer consistency.
- Toppings: A dusting of powdered sugar and maple syrup are classic toppings.
Breads for French toast
Thick slices of white bread or brioche are my top choices. White bread has a neutral flavor and effortlessly infuses vanilla and spices. Brioche has a more decadent dough made of eggs and sugar, which makes it dense and slightly sweeter. Wheat bread is another option that adds a nutty flavor and hearty bite due to the bran.
To ensure the bread can support the heavy custard, use slices 2/3 to ¾-inch thick. Most pre-sliced loaves from the market are thinner, so scour the aisle for a wide-cut variety or cut at home for more control.
A tasty way to use leftover bread
A classic French toast recipe uses stale bread. In France, it’s called lost bread or pain perdu. Fresh homemade baked loaves naturally dry out within a few days, unlike store-bought products, which contain special preservatives to keep the crumb moist and can take weeks to dry out.
Toast the bread when it’s too soft
If your bread is very soft, here’s an easy solution. Pop the slices in the toaster on low setting until lightly golden and crisp. However, if making a large batch for a family, place the pieces in a single layer on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast the bread in a low-heated oven at 300ºF (150ºC) for several minutes to dry.
It’s similar to making croutons, but you don’t want it overly browned or hard. The hot air will dry the surface and make it easier to absorb the custard. If you begin the process with soft, moist bread, it will become too soggy, making it hard to handle.
Make the custard
Combining 1 cup of milk, 2 eggs, and 2 yolks is the perfect ratio for the custard coating. Using whole eggs plus extra yolks ensures the custard sets properly and has creamy centers. Too many egg whites create a rubbery texture from the albumin protein that solidifies when cooked.
Adding brown sugar and vanilla extract gives a hint of sweetness. When fried in the pan, a generous amount of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg creates enticing baked aromas.
How long to soak the bread?
Add the custard to a shallow dish, then dip the bread in the egg mixture for a max of 20 seconds on each side. It’s not going for a long swim, just a brief soak to wet the surface.
As it sits, waiting to be fried, the moisture will gradually move toward the middle. Letting it soak too long will turn the bread completely soggy.
Pan-fry the bread
I like using a nonstick pan to make it easy to flip or a cast iron skillet to fry the bread. The latter retains heat well between batches and creates a crisp crust. This pan only works well if you add more butter between batches to prevent sticking.
Use medium-low heat to cook each side. In just a few minutes, the custard sets, and the eggs will no longer be raw. The surface dries and takes on a beautiful golden hue. If the heat is too high, the outside will cook too fast, and the inside will taste too wet. I recommend only cooking two slices simultaneously to limit steam from forming.
Moisture is the enemy and prevents color and texture development. However, if short on time and cooking multiple pieces in the pan, increase to medium heat if needed.
French toast toppings
You can’t go wrong with a delicious French toast with a dusting of powdered sugar and pure maple syrup. Freshly sliced bananas, strawberries, your favorite jam or marmalade, or blueberries are excellent fruit additions.
Now that you know how to whip up this easy French toast recipe, switch things up! Here are some tasty ways to customize the dish:
- Churro: Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the toast for a spiced churro flavor.
- Nutella: Stuff or spread the slices with Nutella for a chocolate hazelnut combo.
- Bananas Foster: Get a taste of New Orleans and try my bananas fosters French toast recipe.
- Tiramisu: Add some coffee, cocoa powder, and liqueur to the batter for a tiramisu flavor.
- Apple Cinnamon: Top with apple pie filling for a fall brunch.
- Cheesecake: Stuff the French toast with sweetened cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and lemon.
- Berries: Add fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries. Make a warm berry compote to pour on top.
- Casserole: Make a baked French toast casserole instead of frying individual pieces.
- Eggs: Scrambled, poached, crockpot breakfast casserole, or an omelet.
- Potatoes: Hashbrown casserole, home fries, or sweet potato hash.
- Meat: Crispy bacon or corned beef hash.
Frequently asked questions
Take a peak underneath after the bread has been cooking for about 3 to 5 minutes. It should be golden brown, dry when touched, and lightly crisp. Flip over to cook the other side until the center becomes puffy and the custard fully cooks, about 3 to 4 minutes.
When making a large batch, keep the cooked toast warm in the oven at 200ºF (93ºC). Place them on a wire rack on a sheet pan or directly on the baking sheet.
Yes! It’s a great way to meal prep for breakfast. Once the toast is cooked, cool it, then transfer it to a freezer-safe bag in a single layer. Freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat in a toaster or in the oven at 350ºF (177ºC) until warm.
Use butter for a flavorful frying oil
Butter is the fat of choice to fry the french toast. The milk solids lightly toast as it heats up, creating a toffee-like flavor and aroma, just like making brown butter. Make sure to clean the pan in between batches to prevent those lovely solids from burning. More neutral vegetable oil works as well, and you will achieve a crisp surface, but it won’t be as deep in flavor.
- Dry the Bread – If using soft, fresh bread, set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 300ºF (149ºC). Place the slices on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet. Warm the bread until dry to the touch but not browned, about 10 to 14 minutes, flipping halfway through.Alternatively, for a small batch, use a toaster on the lowest heat setting. The bread will become drier as it cools at room temperature.
- Make the Custard – In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- Dip the Bread – Soak the bread for 15 to 20 seconds on each side. Use a spatula to transfer to a separate baking sheet. Whisk the custard as needed in between batches to keep the ingredients mixed. Sprinkle more cinnamon on top if desired.
- Fry the Bread – Heat a 12-inch nonstick pan or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Melt ½ tablespoon of butter until it bubbles. Add two pieces of bread at a time. Cook until the first side is golden brown and lightly crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes.Wipe out the pan and add fresh butter. Cook the remaining dipped bread.
- To Serve – Right before serving, sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Serve with maple syrup or desired toppings.
- Serving Size: 1 bread slice
- Using Dry Bread: Additional drying is only needed when using soft, fresh bread.
- Dry using a Toaster: Toast each bread slice on the lowest setting. Repeat as needed until the surface is dry but not browned.
- Keeping the Toast Warm: If making a large batch, place the fried pieces inside a 200ºF (93ºC) oven while preparing the remaining slices.
- Storing: Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Freeze slices in a single layer in a plastic bag or container for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: Use the lowest setting in the toaster oven until hot. Alternatively, warm on a sheet pan in a 350ºF (177ºC) oven.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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