19 April 2009

In Search of Pain Perdu

Turner and I were going to run to McDonalds this morning for their 10RMB breakfast special (egg sandwich, hash brown, and a coffee), but we forgot that they stop serving it at 9am. By the time we had finished our morning cup of coffee, it was too late. Someday we'll do it, just have to wait for the right day. Also, today dawned cloudy and cool, providing even less incentive to get out of bed early enough for the breakfast run.

After my mid-morning run around our university, I decided to use our last wedge of bread and last egg to make french toast. This was not to be just any french toast though. Last year my mom mailed me a cooking magazine that had a recipe for Swiss-style French Toast. I think it was Swiss anyway. The country of origin doesn't matter too much. All you need to know is that this makes a regular Sunday breakfast into a sweet treat.

Cut into cubes any day-old French bread. Challah or brioche would work wonderfully for this; however, they require a few days prep time in themselves. I used the bread I bake every other day (the no-knead bread).

In a bowl, whisk together an egg (for two people, use more eggs for more bread/people), a few tablespoons of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, some cinnamon and nutmeg. (My measurements for many recipes are really just "a shake of this" and "squirt of that," but I try to make some things reproduceable.) Anyway, at this point you're basically making French toast. The only difference so far is cubing the bread instead of leaving it in slices. Soak the bread in the egg mixture for a bit, tossing to make sure every piece is soaked through.

Then heat a few pats of butter in a frying pan and toss in your eggy bread. Fry it in butter on all sides until it's golden brown. Essentially, you bring it to the stage where it looks like French toast ready to eat.

Now comes the special part. Add another tablespoon of butter to the pan and sprinkle a 3-4 tablespoons of white sugar over the cubes of bread. Toss everything together in the pan so the bread is coated with butter and sugar. Now you are caramelizing the outside of the bread, so cook it for a few more minutes until the sugar crystals have dissolved and the bread has a deep brown caramel coating.

This is best eaten warm, obviously, so the caramel doesn't stick to your teeth as much. Turner and I drizzled what we have left of our maple syrup over the top. Needless to say, this is nowhere near healthy as it has a few tablespoons of butter and plenty of sugar, but it is delicious. We had some apple slices alongside so maybe the doctor will forgive us our trepasses.

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