When preparing to write this recipe and post, I asked myself: which sweet, syrupy breakfast dish do I like better? Pancakes or French toast? The answer is… neither! I’d rather have a scone!
Just kidding! I mean, scones could be the answer to life, the universe, and everything. I wouldn’t be surprised. But the answer to pancakes vs. French toast, for me, is French toast. All the way.
French toast vs. pancakes?
It’s a texture thing, and French toast HAS IT.
It’s that crisp, golden exterior. If you’re doing French toast correctly, you’re using challah, a rich egg bread. That high-gloss, egg-glazed shine on the outside of a loaf of challah is the perfect head start to a delicious, crusty exterior on your French toast. Because challah is braided, the edges of your slices will be thick and thin, with an angular, irregularly-shaped crust. The thinner, crusty pieces of your French toast slices will crisp up more quickly on the hot, buttered griddle. That equals texture, AND toasty flavor.
When’s the last time you had a pancake with crispy edges?
Also, it seems like two slices of French toast feel a lot more satisfying than a stack of pancakes. Maybe it’s the additional protein from those eggs. In any case, I am a fan of a breakfast that really sticks with you. And not only is French toast satisfying, it almost feels like you’re getting away with eating bread pudding for breakfast.
Have you heard of the French Toast Alert System?
One of the best things about French toast is how easy it is to whip up from staple ingredients that you probably have on hand: milk (or half and half in this case, because why not, you’re probably making this on the weekend), eggs, and bread. You know, the staples everyone stocks up on before a winter storm. One clever programmer has created a National French Toast Alert System, a website which advises visitors on how much of these staples to stock up on, based on the local weather forecast. This is exactly the type of useful utility that makes me want to learn more programming skills.
Save your bread, save the world.
Oddly enough, in France, French toast is most often served as a dessert, and not as a breakfast dish. France is the source of one of my favorite variations on the “French toast” name: pain perdu or “lost bread.” The term refers to the use of bread that has gone stale for French toast, giving it a second life and reducing food waste. While this recipe does call for fresh bread, you could easily use bread that has gone a bit stale. You may need to increase the amount of egg mixture you make, or decrease the number of slices of bread you use, since a drier bread slice will soak up more of the mixture.
French toast topping ideas
I’m usually a purist when it comes to toppings, and stick to the classic warm maple syrup. I don’t find that I need to serve this particular French toast recipe with butter on top, but go ahead if that’s you thing.
Noah recently hosted a movie night in which we watched Thor: Ragnarok and made Saturday morning breakfast food, including French toast with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. Blueberries would also be great. Or both! Highly recommended.
Making challah French toast
I’ve discovered a few keys to success as I’ve refined this challah French toast recipe:
- A non-stick pan works best. I’ve been using the same Calphalon square griddle (affiliate link) or over 15 years, and it is perfect for cooking about 5-6 slices at a time. A well-seasoned cast iron would also work, but watch out for hot spots.
- Low heat delivers a great combination of even browning and complete cooking throughout each slice.
- Good bread makes a difference, obviously.
So if the weekend’s coming up, and you want to impress your family with a fast-but-fun breakfast, try this Fast and Fluffy Challah French Toast. And let me know how it turns out! Tag your pic with @birdseedkitchen on Instagram.
Fast and Fluffy Challah French Toast
This Fast and Fluffy Challah French toast is golden and crisp outside, fluffy and soft inside, and ready in under 30 minutes.
- 1 loaf challah bread, 16 oz
- 5 large eggs
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter for the griddle
Trim about 1 inch from each end of the challah to create flat surfaces. Slice remaining bread into 12 slices, approximately 3/4 inch wide.
Start pre-heating a griddle over low heat.
In a wide mixing bowl, combine eggs, half and half, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix vigorously with a fork until smooth and well-combined.
When griddle is hot, coat with 1/2 tbsp butter.
Give the egg mixture a quick stir with a fork if it has separated. Dip slices of challah into egg mixture, one or two at a time, coating each side evenly. Lift out of egg mixture gently, and allow to drip for a few seconds.
Arrange slices on hot griddle so they are not touching. Cook on low for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown.
Flip slices over and cook for another 3 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove slices and keep warm in the oven.
Add 1/2 tbsp butter to the griddle, and cook the second batch of toast in the same manner.
Serve with warm maple syrup.
- Use a non-stick griddle for best results.
- Top with warm maple syrup, jam, or your favorite fresh fruit and whipped cream.
Nutrition information is estimated and provided for informational purposes only. Statements within this site have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration.