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French toast has so many names.
French toast. Eggy Bread. Torrijas. Pain perdu. I like calling it pain perdu which when translated means something like “lost bread”. Doesn’t that just sound so sad and wistful? Clearly the phrase “lost bread” appeals to my inner angst and dramatic sensibilities but in reality pain perdu is anything but sad. It is delicious. Thick slabs of stale brioche or challah dunked in an eggy, milky vanillary mixture and fried in butter, served with lashings of maple syrup and berries and ice cream if you are feeling particularly deserving.
I love baking my own bread, but if you don’t eat it within two days its not much good for anything really except pain perdu. Last post I had baked a Nutella swirl brioche which made for a really decadent and delicious version of French Toast but really you can use any old bread. Sourdough, challah, wonder-white whatever! I topped it with maple syrup, crushed pecans, fresh blueberries and a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Again top it with whatever you like, whatever is in season or whatever you have on hand. One of the blueberries landed smack bang in the middle of the ice cream, while i was eating I couldn't help thinking it looked like a little boob staring up at me.
PAIN PERDU/FRENCH TOAST/EGGY BREAD
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Grand Marnier
- Pinch of Salt
- 3/4 Cup Milk
- Four thick slices of stale (lost) brioche or challah (or whatever bread you have on hand - it really doesn't matter what kind)
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 1 Tbsp Oil
- 2 Tbsp caster sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Handful of nuts
- Fresh berries
- Maple Syrup
1. Whisk together the eggs with the sugar, Grand Marnier, salt and milk until well combined.
2. Soak the bread, one slice at a time (roughly 30 seconds each side).
3. Heat the butter and oil in a fry pan or griddle pan and cook until golden and crispy. Turn during cooking to ensure it doesn't burn on each side.
4. Transfer to serving plate, sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar and top with blueberries, nuts and ice cream or whatever the fuck your heart desires.
How do you like to eat your Lost Bread?
"S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche"
Whether Marie Antoinette really said "let them eat cake" or more accurately "let them eat brioche" is a moot point as far as I am concerned. It has become iconic irregardless and it is an excellent saying all the same - it certainly helps justify days where I have cake for breakfast. Brioche is this luxuriant fluffy combination of cakey bread made from lashings of butter and eggs that will make your house smell amazing. When it is stale, it will cure all your French toast cravings. I mean really, is there a better bread you could use for French toast? Noooope.
Brioche has been on my to bake list for ever. When I was in high school I used to make little brioche buns filled with chocolate chips in a muffin tin but somehow they never felt like real brioche – just starchy muffins trying hard to be fancy and for some reason I kept throwing it into my “too hard not now” basket where things go that I want to try but usually forget. I found this recipe for briochewhile I was trawling through the glorious Hungry Girl Por Vida. It is really workable and yields such a beautiful loaf. I love the idea of tear away loaves. She uses lemon in hers which is pretty genius. I opted for Nutella because for some reason we had three jars in our pantry and well, because its Nutella. Next time I think I will make the cinnamon version from Joy the Baker or a savory kind, with caramelized onions and garlic and three kinds of cheese.
NUTELLA PULL-APART BRIOCHE
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar (i used organic cane w/ fine results)
- 7 grams instant yeast
- 5 grams ground sea salt
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 60 grams/2 oz. butter, unsalted
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs, room temp
- Big spoonfuls of nutella
- Big handful of chocolate chips
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 2 tsp of water
Put the oven on high for 20 minutes.Then turn off
In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside. In a small saucepan heat milk and butter over low heat until the butter is just melted. Remove from heat, add water, and set aside for about a minute until the temperature registers 50C/120F (Not too hot as you want the yeast to activate!) Add the vanilla.
- Pour the milk mixture over the dry mixture and stir to combine. Mixing by hand (if like me and you are too poor to afford one of those amazing fan dangled mixers with dough hooks), add eggs one at a time (If using a mixer make sure it is fitted w/ the dough hook). When mixing the eggs it will look like you are not going anywhere and just have a big ol mess but be patient and I promise you it will come together and incorporate.
- Add 1/2 cup flour and mix until smooth. Add remaining flour, 2 tablespoons at a time and knead until smooth and sticky (don’t try and firm it up with more flour or you will have tough bread which is one of life's greatest miseries).
- Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise in a warmed oven until doubled in size. Punch down the dough.
- On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough into roughly a 30x40 cm rectangle. Spread the Nutella thickly over the rectangle and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Cut the dough long ways into 5 or 6 strips. Stack the long strips on top of each other and cut into 4 to 5 smaller squares and line into a greased loaf tin.
Preheat the oven to 180 C/350F.
Brush the loaf with egg wash and leave to rise in a warm spot for another hour or so until the loaf has filled the tin. Bake for 30-35 mins or until golden on top.
I am not a morning person. I am not a cereal person. Breakfast is a meal usually had on weekends and contains glorious poached eggs, thick stack-able pancakes drowning in syrup, heavenly hollandaise, salty cured bacon or some sort of avocado toast. Breakfast is a slow affair to be savoured that takes upwards of three hours with a bajillion coffees to be drunk. Breakfast during the week, when you are governed by work schedules and due dates and the monotonous inertia of routine, can often be forgotten. Weekday breakfast usually involves one to two coffees, sometimes blended with my salty tears (tears of despair at being separated from my duvet).
I get constant lectures about how I have to eat breakfast to start the day-off "right" usually from smug morning people who drink their green juices and exude healthy from every pore. So here is my attempt to encourage myself to eat better breakfasts. On the days I do right, I have it with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and a whopping big handful of blueberries. And in the event that I don't succeed in ever eating breakfasts again it will make for a delicious crumble topping.
CRUNCHY-MUNCHY TOASTED GRANOLA
- 2 cups rolled oats
- ¾ cup raw almond, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup chia seeds (or flaxseeds)
- ¼ cup quinoa puffs
- ¼ cup raisins (or any dried fruit, chopped into small pieces)
- Handful of coconut flakes
- 4 tbsp. coconut oil (LIQUIDY - Do not add solid coconut oil)
- 4 tbsp. honey or maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
- In a large bowl, mix everything together except the dried fruit and coconut flakes.
- Spread the mixture on a non-stick baking tray lined with baking paper, and bake in oven until golden brown (roughly 20 mins), taking the tray out every 5-10 min to mix the granola quickly and re-spread. This helps it brown more evenly and stops the edges burning.
- Remove from the oven, add the raisins (or chopped dried fruit of choice) while the granola is still hot, mix through and leave to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
• For a more caramelized flavour and slightly clumpy granola, add 2 tbsp. coconut sugar to the mixture before baking.
• This is just a blue print. Try different combinations of nuts, seeds and fruit or you know put whatever the fuck you want to eat in it because its morning and everything tastes like cardboard before midday anyway.