Since French toast is all about the bread, the kind of bread you use makes a difference. You want a firm bread, one that can stand up to a good soak in egg and milk; but it shouldn't be so firm that frying makes it tough. We think butter- and
egg-rich brioche is an ideal choice. Here we bake it in a 9" pain de mie pan, to create perfectly square slices; then dip it in a simple cinnamon- and nutmeg-scented batter before frying. Delicious!
2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 large eggs
1/4 cup lukewarm water
10 tablespoons butter
Batter for French Toast
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a stand mixer or bread machine (programmed for dough), mix together all
of the ingredients to form a smooth, shiny dough. Don't worry; what starts out
as a sticky mess becomes beautifully satiny as it kneads. This dough takes longer
than most to develop, so be prepared to let the dough knead for up to 15 to
20 minutes in a stand mixer. Also, we don't recommend trying to knead it by
hand. If you're using a bread machine, let it complete its kneading cycle, then
continue as directed below.
Form the dough into a ball (it'll be very soft), place it in a greased bowl,
cover the bowl, and it let rise for 1 hour.
Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or overnight. This will slow the
fermentation and chill the butter, making the dough easier to shape.
Shape the dough into a 9-inch log, and place it in a lightly greased 9-inch
pain de mie pan. Cover the pan, and let the chilled dough come to room temperature,
then rise to within 1 1/2 inches or so of the rim of the pan; this may take
up to 5 hours or so.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Close the lid on the pain de mie pan, and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, and remove the lid; the bread should be golden
brown, and register at least 205 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Continue
to bake for a few more minutes if the bread isn't done, then remove it from
the oven, turn it out of the pan, and cool completely on a rack.
To make French toast: Let the loaf get a bit stale before using it for French
toast. Or cut six 3/4" to 1"-thick slices of fresh brioche and let them sit,
uncovered, for several hours.
Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour.
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, cream or milk,
Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Divide the batter among six saucers, and soak each piece of bread for about
2 minutes on each side, until it's absorbed most of the batter, but isn't soggy
all the way through. While the bread is soaking, preheat your griddle.
Cook the French toast for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, or until it's
golden brown; adjust the heat so it's not cooking too slowly or too quickly.
Turn the toast over, and cook the second side until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
To serve, spread hot slices with butter, and drizzle with maple syrup.
Hands-on time: 30 mins. to 35 mins. | Baking time: 50 mins. to 60 mins. Total
time: Overnight, 8 hrs 15 mins. to 18 hrs 5 mins. | Yield: 6 servings