Right now we have two adults and one picky toddler eating solid foods in our house and on Friday night, we always have lots of left over challah.
One of our family traditions is to make challah French toast on Saturday morning. Literally, the first thing my son says when he opens his eyes on Saturday morning is, “Challah French toast day!” (God forbid I attempt to serve him cereal.)
I love eating French toast in restaurants. Something about it is always so–PERFECT. It’s crispy on the outside but warm and soft on the inside and you can always taste the vanilla. I’ve tried a million recipes to recreate restaurant French toast at home and usually come out with bland, flaccid cinnamon egg bread.
I can honestly say that over half of my Jewish go-to recipes come from Tori Avery, better known as Shiksa in the Kitchen. We’re kindred spirits in the convert club and since I don’t have a bubbe to hand down recipes, Tori is my go-to girl. Her Challah French Toast recipe is absolutely 100% what I was looking for, not just because it’s lower in fat, but because her methods make for perfect French toast. Every. Single. Time.
This fall I’ve made some amazing adjustments to this recipe, by substituting a ½ cup of pumpkin puree (pure pumpkin not pumpkin pie) for the banana and using 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon (you could also use a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger to make your own).
Last weekend my husband literally said, “This is like pumpkin pie breakfast in my mouth.”
This recipe does result in a few extra dishes for your husband to clean up afterwards but it’s completely and totally worth it. Like I said, what really makes this recipe is the methodology. Follow carefully and here are a few highlights.
Use day-old challah: I have found leaving it in a bag overnight works just fine. You don’t want it too dried out because the challah crust becomes too hard and won’t absorb the liquid.
Don’t skimp on the vanilla: I love to cook with Mexican Vanilla, especially in recipes like this where the flavor can really shine through. I’ve been known to get extra crazy and use an entire tablespoon of vanilla in this recipe.
Use your blender: Yes it’s one more thing to wash up but the egg/milk gets completely blended this way. Be sure to use a spatula to scrape out all of the spices that tend to migrate to the bottom.
Use your pyrex: This is THE KEY to great soaking. The dish. The sides are high, there is plenty of room and everything gets nice and coated in yummy egg-y goodness. Yes, another pan to wash–but seriously, just do it.
Soak it up: The recipe calls for soaking for 60 seconds, but I found it needs to be soaked a little longer especially since the pumpkin does make the batter a little thicker.
Use tongs: I have found that cooking time on this is very tricky–so unlike pancakes where bubbles indicate “it’s time to flip!” you can use tongs to check if the bread is nice and golden on one side before flipping it.
Re-butter: Be sure to rebutter your pan in between batches to make the second batch just as buttery crisp as the first!
Keep it warm: I cook up the entire challah because my family eats this stuff up in one sitting (even my toddler!) so I like to preheat the oven to 200 and keep the first batch warm on a glass plate until we can eat it all warm. Nom.
Top with powdered sugar (or a few chocolate chips for your kiddos) and eat! (Side note: this mesh shaker is my most favorite frivolous kitchen gadget. Totally unnecessary but so fantastic I can’t live without it. Hanukkah present idea? I think so.)
If you’re really crazy you could always make this recipe using pumpkin challah for a mega pumpkin explosion in your mouth. Yes. I totally just said that.
Such a warm cozy breakfast that’s perfect for a fall morning. And thanks to Tori for yet another fantastic recipe!
Photo via Tori Avery, Shiksa in the Kitchen