Thursday, May 9, 2013

French Toast with Mixed Berry Syrup

Guess what guys.  At this exact time (10:56 AM) in exactly two weeks (May 23, 2013), I will be officially moving out of college...for the LAST time.  I will also have a real Bachelor's degree.  It's a bit crazy, and I don't know if I can handle those thoughts just yet, so I will be pushing them aside (again), and talking about something else, something that I know everyone can relate to.  My mama!  Ok, maybe you can't all relate to my mom, but you all have your own moms that you can think about.  Mother's Day is quickly approaching, and as always, I'm a few days behind on my posting.  I had two Mother's Day related posts in mind, but then life got in the way, and I had a final studio review that lasted until 9 pm, after which I promptly went to bed because I physically could not keep my eyes open any longer, and two full 9-5 days of work followed by senior dinners and events. Classes may have ended on Monday, but Tuesday and Wednesday I was the busiest little bee.  But anyway, back to my mama!

My family doesn't usually do anything overly elaborate for Mother's Day.  We usually go to a family potluck-style brunch at my cousin's house for some relaxed Mother's Day fun, or well, at least that's what I've been told.  I've had to miss the last three Mother's Day celebrations because I've had final exams to study for and papers to write (actually, now that I think about it, I had an exam on Mother's Day my freshman year...yep, I had a final exam on a Sunday...).  This year, however, will be different.  I only have one exam to study for, and one independent research project to finish (FREAKING out about this one, as I'm still so behind, but that's obviously nothing new), so I'm going home to be with my family on Sunday, and I'm so excited!  I'm going home on Saturday, and my mom is going to make my grandma's super famous arroz con verduras for dinner, as per my request.  Ahh, gotta love mom for that!  I'm very excited to go home and spend some time with my mom and all the other important moms in my life, and of course, I'm equally excited for brunch.  Did I ever tell you guys how much I love brunch?  No?  Well, guys, I'm slightly obsessed with brunch.  It's true. 

There's something about brunch that I just love.  I'm a huge fan of all kinds of breakfast treats but I'm not such a fan of waking up early enough to have a designated breakfast.  Brunch solves this problem for me, as I can wake up late and still enjoy some breakfast goodness, not to mention that brunch food is definitely a bit more special than regular, everyday breakfast food.  My mom is famous in our family for making croissant bread pudding- she only makes this one, maybe twice a year at most, simply because it's so rich, that there's probably 1,000 per bite, at least.  It's reserved for special occasions, like New Year's and Mother's Day, and it's dishes like that that make me love brunch.  

Whenever I go out for brunch, or am just having a late breakfast with my family, I love to make French toast.  I just love French toast, and I have many memories of eating French toast when I was little.  My dad always made French toast with a baguette, and they were sooo good.  My favorite bread to use when making French toast though, is definitely Challah bread.  Challah has its own mild sweetness, and is the perfect bread to use, in my opinion.  Whatever bread you choose to use when making French toast, make sure that's it's a day old!  Stale bread will soak up the custard much better than fresh bread, and since the custard is where all the flavor comes from, you definitely want as much of it to get absorbed by the bread as possible.  Simply slice the loaf of bread into 1-inch thick slices, and lay the slices out flat on a baking sheet, and leave them on your kitchen counter overnight.  The next morning, you'll have really stale bread that is either perfect for discarding, or for making French toast.  Choosing to make French toast with it is the better option of the two.

This French toast recipe is the perfect dish to surprise mom with on Sunday.  It's simple to make, and of course, really delicious.  I paired my challah French toast with some mixed berry syrup, but any other fruit syrup, jam, or maple syrup will work just fine in its place.  This is one dish that I'm sure any mom would love to wake up to, enjoy!

French Toast with Mixed Berry Syrup
French toast recipe from Handle the Heat

For the French Toast

6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 loaf challah bread, sliced thick

For the Mixed Berry Sauce

10 oz frozen mixed berries, thawed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon water


Begin by preparing the mixed berry sauce.  In a medium saucepan, place the frozen mixed berries, lemon juice, and sugar.  In a small bowl, combine the water and corn starch, mixing until incorporated, and then add to the saucepan with the mixed berries.  Bring all the ingredients to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Once the mixture is boiling, allow it to continue to cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.  Remove the mixed berry sauce from the heat, and allow it to cool completely.  Once cooled to room temperature, it can be stored in the refrigerator until ready to use (although for this particular case, I was totally ok with using warm berry sauce, so I skipped the whole cooling process).   

In a large shallow bowl (I used a 9x13-inch baking dish), whisk together the eggs, milk, orange zest, vanilla, honey, salt, and ground cinnamon. 

Soak the slices of bread in the egg mixture for five minutes, turning them once halfway through.  

While the bread is soaking, preheat your griddle over medium heat, and add some butter to it.  Once the griddle and butter are hot, add the slices of soaked bread, a few at a time, and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, until the custard is cooked through and the bread has browned nicely.  

Transfer the cooked French toast to a heatproof plate or baking sheet and place in a 250 degrees F oven to keep them warm as you cook the remaining French toast.  Repeat with the remaining bread slices, cooking them in batches and adding more butter to the griddle as needed, until all the slices have been cooked.  Serve the French toast while it's still hot with warm mixed berry sauce.  Enjoy!

Makes 8-10 slices of French toast, depending on loaf size


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