Cheryle Finley: French toast a wonderful holiday tradition | News

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With December already here, thoughts are naturally turning to the holidays and holiday food.

One of our family favorite Christmas morning dishes is French toast. This concoction, dating back to ancient Greece — not France — is actually a year-round favorite.

I remember my mother making French toast with regular white bread. The bread was dipped in a simple scrambled egg mixture of egg and milk. She warmed the syrup by putting the bottle in a pan of water then heating the water on the stove. That was actually very smart — no leftover syrup to try to put back into the bottle, but it never failed to surprisingly gush out of the bottle.

I have experimented with different breads, and my favorite for French toast is brioche. It’s a little sweeter and more buttery than white bread and is available in vanilla and marble chocolate flavors. Other good choices are challah, sourdough, croissant and, of course, French bread.

The bread slices, no matter which you choose, should not be so thin as to fall apart and not so thick as to not cook through.

The bread choice is important, but so are other elements of making French toast. Whole milk and other milk such as almond and coconut can be used. Half-and-half, cream and buttermilk can be substituted for milk.

The egg-and-milk mixture needs to be well mixed and balanced because the milk will help soften the bread, but too much dairy will keep the eggs from cooking. The bread can be quickly dipped in the egg mixture, while some suggest soaking it for up to 15 minutes. A soaking of a minute or two seems to be most popular.

Preheating the pan with both butter and a neutral oil such as canola will prevent the egg mixture from running off the toast. Medium heat prevents undercooking and burning.

The skillet should be wiped clean between batches with more oil and butter added for each new batch. The toast can be kept warm and crisp in a 275 degree oven for up to 30 minutes before serving.

While syrup is the traditional French toast topping, there’s several other options. Fresh fruit, yogurt, powdered sugar and honey as well as flavored butter, ham, sausage and bacon.

Looking forward to French toast on Christmas morning has already begun, but no need to wait that long. French toast for breakfast or dinner is welcome anytime.

Adapted from food network.com, the first recipe is for basic French toast. It’s hard to go wrong with basic. The second recipe, adapted from Taste of Home, is a great make-ahead dish that makes for an easier morning.

Have a wonderful week enjoying that extra hour and happy eating.

French toast

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons butter

4 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 slices bread

Melt butter in 10 or 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Combine first three ingredients; whisk together with eggs, milk and vanilla and pour into shallow dish or pie pan.

Dip bread into eggs. Fry until golden brown, flip and cook until golden brown on the other side.

Serve warm. Yields 4 servings.

Baked peach French toast

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, cubed

2 tablespoons water

1 (29 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained

12 slices bread

5 eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In small saucepan, bring first three ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour into greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish; top evenly with peaches. Arrange bread over peaches. Whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla; slowly pour evenly over bread. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Sprinkle with cinnamon, cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Spoon syrup from pan bottom over toast.

Yields 6 servings.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

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