When the weekend rolls around, there is nothing that seems more decadent to me than a hot breakfast followed by a long, lazy walk on the beach. Accompanied, of course, by my handsome dog Oliver, who is utterly charming in the way he lies down for every dog or child, and who smiles (full-on toothy grins!), at anyone whom he suspects might find him adorable - most do.
This weekend was perfect for both lazy walking and breakfasting. After a week of being sequestered in a library, hunched over textbooks until every blood vessel in my eyes was visible and the bags beneath them had bags of their own, a weekend of perfect weather and nothing to do was embraced with delight.
As guilty proof that I almost never ate from home, I was left with a stale loaf of bread - it was meant to become lunch sandwiches but, owing to midterm sluggishness, was left to dry up in favour of sushi. A happy outcome, when the weekend arrived, because nothing beats a stale loaf of bread finding new life in a bath of sweet custard.
The loaf was actually so stale that it practically shattered into pieces when I tried to slice it. So, rather than fry shapeless hunks of bread in a pan, baked french toast was born! I used the same proportions of eggs and milk as I would for regular french toast, but tossed it all into a buttered dish and let it plump up in the oven, sprinkled with some coarse sugar to give it a crunchy, caramelized crust. I dusted it with cinnamon before serving with a heap of sweet, weeping strawberries, and plenty of Canadian maple syrup.
Baked French Toast
12 oz stale french bread, cut into 1 inch chunks (about 350 grams, or 6 thick slices)
4 large eggs
1 cup milk, half-and-half, or cream
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
cinnamon, for dusting, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch square baking dish.
2. In a medium bowl, gently beat the eggs. Add the milk or cream, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Add the bread pieces. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until the bread has absorbed the liquid.
3. Transfer bread mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle sugar evenly over top, and bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, until puffed and golden brown on top.
To serve with macerated strawberries, rinse, hull, and cut berries into quarters. Sprinkle with sugar to desired sweetness, and allow them to sit for an hour to allow the juice to be drawn out. Mash slightly, if desired. Do this before you start preparing the french toast, and the strawberries will be perfectly juicy and flavourful when the french toast is ready.