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Alternative Ingredients are listed in Red
|4||1½"||Slices Stale Challah Bread *|
|4||1½"||Slices Stale Texas Toast|
|4||1½"||Slices Stale Country Loaf|
|8||½"||Slices Stale White Sandwich Bread|
|3||lg||Eggs (2 whole, +1 yolk)|
|2||tbls||Natural Bee's Honey|
|1||tbls||Pure Vanilla Extract (Double Strength)|
|1||tsp||Fresh Grated Nutmeg|
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Poor the custard mixture into a pie pan, or any other vessel that isn't much bigger than the bread slice, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375º (in convection mode if you have one). Place cooling rack(s) on a cookie sheet and set aside. Dip bread into mixture, allowing to soak for 30 seconds on each side, then place on the cooling rack to drain (and soak further). Allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes before cooking.
Over medium heat (about 325º if you have an Infrared Thermometer) melt 1 tablespoon (half a pat) of butter in a 10-12" nonstick saute pan or flat pan or flat grill. Place as many slices of bread at a time as will lie flat in the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to cooling rack and repeat for the rest of the slices, wasting no time between batches. As soon as all the slices have been sautéed/grilled, place them directly on center oven rack and bake for 5 additional minutes (per ½" thickness of the bread).
Serve hot, directly from oven, sprinkled with sifted powdered sugar, and/or maple syrup and/or fruit and/or whipped cream.
* Stale DOES NOT mean laying out on counter until dry. When bread dries out slowly the moisture combines with oxygen and the starch to form crystals. These crystals will dissolve and release their moisture when exposed to additional liquid, like custard. That's why high starch breads get soggy and deteriorate. Egg bread, such as Challah and Panettone, make for better bread custard. So rather than just setting the bread out to dry, place in 200º convection oven, turning at least once, until thoroughly dry (about 30 min). With the addition of heat the moisture and starch don't have time to form crystals and a lot more moisture actually leaves the bread.
(see also Panettone French Toast)