It’s Sunday morning at 9:30 and my family has already been up for hours which, yes, I find somewhat disturbing, and means, among other things, that this might be a good time to make a real breakfast, instead of just to-each-his-own bowls of cereal or a quick French toast. We sometimes get in the mood for fancier breakfast fare, but I’ve become a bit of a zealot about not letting leftover challah go to waste, and I definitely want something sweet. Behold, Crème Brulee French Toast! It’s an incredibly easy recipe (no blowtorch required) that’s delicious and delightful.
Recipe (plus another recipe for particularly awesome bran muffins), after the jump!
Crème Brulee French Toast
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 1 cup packed brown sugar 2 tablespoons corn syrup The majority of 1 loaf of leftover challah (bonus if it’s raisin challah) 5 large eggs 1 1/2 cups half and half (I often cheat and use milk) 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier (if you don’t have any on hand, no worries. Frangelico and triple sec also work, or just skip it) 1/4 teaspoon salt
In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13 by 9 by 2 – inch baking dish. Cut 6 (1-inch) thick slices from center portion of bread. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit. In a bowl whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla, Grand Marnier and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bring bread to room temperature. Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes.
I made this for a goodbye brunch before I left Nashville, and it really could have been a goodbye Crème Brulee French Toast Brunch because the food was gone so fast. Unbelievably good.
Since the French Toast should chill for at least an hour, if not more, I’m toying with making my other favorite breakfast recipe—The Best Bran Muffins Ever. This recipe originally came from the Ex Boyfriend Cookbook but there it called for buttermilk, which I’ve never been a huge fan of. Then, one day at the Hillel in Iowa City I had a stroke of genius and substituted canned pumpkin for buttermilk. It worked brilliantly, tasted divine, and has the added bonus of bringing way more nutrition and goodness to the recipe. Now, when I make these I always double the recipe so I end up with 12 jumbo muffins. You can put them in the freezer, defrost them one at time, and eat them while studying, in class, or share them with your family when they’re still fresh. They are like a meal in and of themselves. I’m obsessed.
Best Bran Muffins EVER
1 1/2 cup wheat bran 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour 1 1/4 tsp baking soda pinch of salt liberal dash of cinnamon handful of oats handful of wheat germ (I like to use the honey flavored kind, but it’s not mandatory) 1/4 cup honey 1/4 cup melted margarine 1/4 cup molasses 2 eggs splash of vanilla 1 cup pumpkin 2 to 3 handfuls of sunflower seeds, unsalted (optional) handful or more chopped walnuts lots of raisins, and sometimes craisins if you have any around, or blueberries, fresh or frozen
Combine half cup of the bran with a half cup of boiling water and let it steep. In a separate bowl combine the rest of the bran with the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, oats, and wheat germ. In a third bowl – a really big one, with a cover, if you have one – blend together the honey and the marg. Add the eggs, molasses and vanilla. Now, to the steeping bran bowl, add the pumpkin. Now you have 3 mixtures, and you want to add the dry mix and the pumpkin mix to the molasses mix alternating between the two a little at a time until you’re done. So, add some dry mix, mix, add some pumpkin mix, mix, and so on. Add all the mix ins until the batter’s as chunky as you want it. If you can let the batter sit overnight, that’s best. If not, no worries. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. One batch of the recipe makes 12 regular sized muffins, or 6 jumbo muffins.
Get these recipes, plus many more in my cookbook, Vixens in the Kitchen. Tastebook.com donates 10% of the proceeds to breast cancer research.