For French Toast
- 4, 1-inch thick slices of brioche, dried out overnight (or challah, gluten-free or grain-free bread)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups of milk, half and half, heavy cream (or a combination), or your favorite plant-based milk
- 3 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
- butter or oil, for the pan
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or the seeds scraped from a vanilla bean*
- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, brown sugar, or coconut sugar, optional
- lemon or orange zest, optional
- fresh mint leaves, optional
For Fruit Compote
- 2 cups of seasonal fruit, peeled, and sliced if necessary
- 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup or raw honey
- 4 tablespoons of butter, pastured or organic recommended (salted or unsalted, either is fine)
- 1 lemon, juiced and peel zested with a microplane or the small holes of a box grater
If you plan ahead, leave slices of bread out uncovered overnight to dry them out. Otherwise, you can lightly toast the slices or place them in a 200° F oven until they feel dry to the touch. Take great care not to let the slices brown.
Then before you begin, wash your hands, gather and measure out all your ingredients, and collect your equipment and tools.
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a small pan or pot.
- Add the fruit, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt, and bring it to a gentle simmer.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit begins to soften slightly. Berries and stone fruit like peaches and plums will cook quickly in less than five minutes. Firmer fruit like apples and underripe pears will take a bit longer to soften.
- Add the maple syrup and bring the compote back to a gentle simmer.
- Keep the compote warm on very low heat until ready to serve. Or you can turn the heat off and warm it back up when you are done cooking the French toast.
- If it dries out, simply add a little water and heat it back up.
- Leftover compote can be refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen for several months, along with extra bread.
- In a medium bowl or a shallow prep tray with sides, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, sugar (or alternative sweetener), and any other flavorings. Whisk the ingredients until the mixture is well combined.
- Soak the slices in the batter for five to ten minutes. Remove the soaked slices gently to prevent tearing. You can place soak slices on a plate if you need to cook in batches.
- Heat a large skillet, pan, non-stick pan, or griddle over medium heat. If you like, set your oven to its lowest temperature to use as a warmer for finished slices.
- Melt about a tablespoon of butter and a splash of oil in the pan or on the griddle. This will keep the toast from sticking and make flipping easier if you aren't using a non-stick surface. The oil keeps the milk solids in the butter from burning.
- Cook the slices on the first side without touching them until they are deeply browned, between four and five minutes. Then flip them with a large spatula and cook until the second side is browned. Place cooked slices in your oven or a warmer while you cook the rest. The outside of the toast should be slightly crispy and deeply browned, the inside will remain soft and moist.
- Serve the slices with the fruit compote, or a combination of garnishes like fresh fruit, whipped cream, maple syrup, or simply melted, pastured butter if enjoying grain-free French toast while on a ketogenic, paleo-style, or the GAPS diet protocol. A few sprigs of fresh mint make for a lovely, herbal finish.
While this recipe focuses on rich, buttery brioche, it works with any bread in your kitchen. Aim to buy or cut slices that are at least one-inch thick. In the absence of brioche, Challah bread also makes for wonderful French toast. Worst-case scenario, use your sandwich bread (I do this often for my boys and hear no complaints).
On Extracting Vanilla Bean Seeds
To remove the vanilla bean seeds from a pod, you need to slice it open. The easiest way to do this is with a paring knife and a good bit of pressure with the tip. Make a lengthwise incision that runs down the center of the pod, then use the tip of the knife to pry it open. Once you can push the cut edges open, I like to run the back of a knife down the length of the pod to push the seeds out.
It can be fun to experiment with different spices and seasonings in the batter depending on the season. Blood orange zest and cardamom make for a lovely winter brunch dish. Lemon zest and a bit of nutmeg serve up a bright, zingy breakfast for summer. Pumpkin or apple pie spice will give you French toast that screams fall, changing colors, and cozy sweaters.
On the Nutrition Information
The Nutrition Information below is based on the recipe as written with granulated sugar and a fruit compote of mixed berries simmered with maple syrup. But take it with a grain of salt. The nutrient calculator assumes every last drop of the custard mixture is absorbed equally by each slice of bread. For less of a sugar load, you can eliminate some or all of the sugar and maple syrup. And replace the brioche with whole-grain or grain-free bread.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: French
- Diet: Vegetarian
- Serving Size: 1 Slice of French Toast
- Calories: 423
- Sugar: 22.2 g
- Sodium: 278.5 mg
- Fat: 19.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 47.9 g
- Protein: 14.5 g
- Cholesterol: 241.5 mg
Keywords: brioche french toast recipe, cinnamon french toast, New Orleans French toast