How to Make the Perfect French Toast, According to a Golf Club Chef
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Why we call it French toast is hard to understand.
The French don’t call it American toast.
Their term is lost painwhich means “French toast” and recalls the origins of a dish traditionally prepared by soaking stale bread in eggs and milk.
Whatever its name, it’s a breakfast staple, most often served with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a drizzle of melted butter and maple syrup, but adaptable to many permutations.
Garret Martindale is Executive Chef at Sequoyah Country Club, Oakland, California.
We asked him for an overview of the fundamentals of French toast, as well as his suggestions for creative rotations.
The starchy bases
It all starts with good bread. Martindale’s preference is the brioche, in 1 1/2 inch slices, with the crust left in to provide textural contrast. In a pinch, though, he says, a chopstick or challah will also do the trick.
Martindale describes it as a “pastry cream” and he recommends the following proportions: 4 eggs; two tablespoons of sweetener (sugar works, although Martindale likes lavender honey); 1/4 cup milk, half and half or heavy whipping cream, which the chef recommends for its depth and richness. Cinnamon and vanilla (grain or extra) are common additions.
But feel free to try a range of herbs and spices. Martindale often uses ground green cardamom, which imparts an almost savory heat of flavor. Fresh citrus peels also work. Lemon. Orange. Grapefruit. Make your choice. Whatever you do, be sure to stir vigorously to ensure everything is well incorporated.
This is where many home cooks go wrong, says Martindale. Be sure to soak the bread thoroughly for 10-15 minutes, gently pressing down on the slices so that the egg and milk mixture gets into all the nooks and crannies.
Burnished, not burnt
Another common mistake is cooking with too much heat. In a non-stick pan, add a knob of unsalted butter and melt it halfway before adding your French toast. You are looking for a medium, constant heat that will give even cooking. About 3-5 minutes on each side should do this, so your French toast turns golden and not burnt.
The classic combination is butter, powdered sugar and cinnamon. But don’t be shy. Try to top it off with a mixture of whipped cream and mascarpone. Or macerated berries. Or chocolate sauce. Or Nutella. Or a pinch of cayenne pepper as a spicy counterpoint. But don’t stop there.
Martindale also likes these other forms of French toast:
-French toast with goat cheese and bacon
-French Toast with Peanut Butter and Jelly
-Coconut French Toast
-Ham and Cheese French Toast
The options are only limited by your imagination.
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