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Reader Joanne Sawyer of Newburgh, Indiana, e-mailed us with a suggestion that we share some recipes for French toast, which she noted is a great use for leftover French bread, including baguettes, boules, and brioche. Joanne writes as follows:
"I tutor ESL (English as a second language) to the Japanese, and learned that the Japanese make French toast with only egg, no milk! My tutoree said her sons complained her French toast wasn't as good as American French toast, and I told her to add milk to the egg. Rather than give her an approximate amount, I said I'd bring her a recipe next week. I thought maybe past issues of the Baking Sheet might give some variations, but I didn't find any. Of course I have the normal recipe, and I thought I'd send along one I like to use with leftover French bread, especially after having cut up a loaf for company. I'm hoping you might have other ones to add."
Soaking the bread in the egg and milk mixture, rather than just dipping it, gives this French toast a smooth, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Hints of orange and vanilla are also a nice touch.
8 to 12 slices baguette (about 3/4-inch thick, about 10 ounces total)
4 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) milk (whole milk or even cream, if your diet can afford it)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) orange juice
1 to 2 drops orange oil (optional but good)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
You may either prepare this in the traditional stovetop method, or choose to bake it instead. To fry French toast in the usual way, place the slices of bread into a 13 x 9-inch or 9-inch square baking dish (whatever size pan will hold the slices in one layer). Beat the remaining ingredients together and pour them over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Cook the toast on one side for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes, until it's lightly browned. Turn it over and cook the other side till lightly browned; the second side will go faster. Serve the French toast with syrup and butter or fruit and whipped cream.
To bake the French toast, lightly butter a baking pan, and place the bread in it in one layer. Combine the filling ingredients and pour them over the bread as directed above; refrigerate overnight. Bake the French toast, uncovered, in a preheated 400°F oven until it's golden brown and puffy, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and serve as directed above. Yield: 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (1/4 of the recipe, 194g): 310 cal, 8g fat, 15g protein, 35g complex carbohydrates, 9g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 215mg cholesterol, 659mg sodium, 250mg potassium, 132RE vitamin A, 4mg vitamin C, 3mg iron, 154mg calcium, 223mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 2, Winter 2001 issue.