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Panettone French Toast
|1||cup||Dark Brown Sugar (packed)|
|4||1"||Slices Stale Panettone Cake*|
|1||tbls||Pure Vanilla Extract (Double Strength)|
|1||tsp||Fresh Grated Nutmeg|
|Powdered Sugar for Dusting|
To make the syrup: Combine 1 cup of water and brown sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to a low boil or high simmer until the syrup reduces to 1 cup, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and cinnamon. Keep the syrup warm. (The syrup can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before serving.)
The French Toast: Unwrap the Panettone cake completely. Trim the dark bottom from the cake and then make four slices at least ¾" thick and stale*. Wrap the rest of the Panettone up in cellophane and refrigerate to be used elsewhere.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and salt thoroughly (do not whip). 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 griddle. Place one slice of Panettone at a time in the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes each side. Remove to cooling rack and repeat for the rest of the slices, wasting no time between them. (For best results, wipe cook surface with paper towel before applying new pat of butter. Spread butter over surface with a grill brush)
As soon as all the slices have been sautéed/grilled, place them directly on center oven rack and bake for 10 additional minutes. Serve hot, directly from oven, sprinkled with sifted powdered sugar, then striped** with the Cinnamon Syrup.
A dollop of whipped cream or even ice cream would turn it into a desert, however, Mascarpone Cheese is the traditional topping.
* Stale DOES NOT mean laying out on a cookie sheet until dry. When bread dries out slowly the moisture combines with the starch (amylose and amylopectin) 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. 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.
** Striping means to drizzle a liquid back and fourth, completely across the plate, in such a fashion as to make stripes. Here's your chance to go crazy with your artistry!
(see also French Toast)