Thursday, January 27, 2011

Homemade French Bread-French Toast

Homemade French Toast

I love when Jeremy is off ... but I love it even more when he is off two days in a row.  Today is day 2 of his days off and it allows us to pretend we have a weekend together!  A favorite weekend breakfast is french toast for our family.  Perhaps I am too picky when it comes to French toast, but a girl likes what a girl likes, right?!  The bread used for the french toast is a deal breaker for me.  The bread has to be thick and it is ideal when the crust has a little crispness to it-  I tend to stick with french breads for this reason. If I am at the grocery store I will typically go grab a day old loaf and make french toast from it the next morning or if I am at Trader Joe's I like to get the Par Baked loaves.  BUT, this time I wanted to make my own french bread.  I was a little hesitant, considering french bread has to have a harder crust and a soft inside.  I wasn't quite sure if I was up for being disappointed, but I figured I would never know unless I tried, and I am SO happy I did!

French Bread

I combined 1 c of water, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 3 c flour and 2 tsp yeast.  I mixed it all together for the dough to form.  Knead the dough well and then cover to rise for about an hour.
Take the dough and dust it well with flour and form it into an oblong shape, about a foot long.  Once the shape has been formed, take a knife and slice diagonally about 1/2 inch deep.

Then take a towel and cover the loaf.  It is ideal to have the bread rise in a warmed oven.  To do so, set the oven to the warm setting for 2 minutes and then turn it off.  After the 2 minutes, place the covered dough in the oven to rise, for about 45 minutes.  

Remove the loaf of bread from the oven and you will notice the dough has risen.

The next step is to bake the bread, but before we can start,  place a pan of hot water in the bottom rack of the oven.  This will create steam, which is necessary to produce the authentic crisp crust.  Fill the pan with just enough water to help create the steam.  With the pan in the oven, begin to preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Place your bread onto a well oiled baking sheet or a pizza stone.  I used my pizza stone and it baked wonderfully for me.  Place bread on the rack above the water filled pan once the oven has reached 450 degrees.  Bake the bread for about 20 minutes. 

You will know when the bread is done, as it will resemble a golden brown crust.  Within the last 5 minutes of baking, I coated the top with a bit of olive oil to give it more coloring.

Once the bread has cooled on a wire rack, I sliced the bread for our french toast.  If you aren't going to eat the bread right away, do not store in a plastic bag to preserve the crisp crust- loosely wrap in foil.  

French Toast

At this point, we are ready to make our french toast!
In a bowl, I combined nonfat half and half-or use milk ... I usually eyeball it, but I would say it is about 2 cups of milk.  Then add an egg, about 1/2 c of brown sugar, 1 tbsp vanilla, and the seasoning of your choice.  You can add nutmeg, cinnamon or allspice- today I used about 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice.  Whisk all together and oil a pan to begin warming on the stove.

When your pan is hot, dip each piece of bread- one by one into your liquid mixture, and then quickly lift out to place in your pan.  Repeat this until all your bread is in the pan.  I take a fork and poke holes in the bread to allow the heat to cook through the bread- this helps to prevent soggy bread and uneven cooking.

Keep an eye on the bread and check periodically to prevent the bread from burning.  Once browned, flip for the other side to cook.

While the bread is cooking, I will begin preparing my toppings. I sliced strawberries ...

filled a bowl with whipped cream for topping and dipping for the boys ...

and in our last moments, I poured some syrup as well.

When the french toast is thoroughly cooked on both sides, plate to serve!

Our morning was so sweet, both in taste and company as all THREE of my boys sat around the kitchen table for breakfast!  

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