Last Sunday, after I made challah, we treated ourselves to French toast for breakfast, using what bread remained from dinner the previous evening. After eating 3 slices of it, Dwight suggested that I should add this recipe to the blog.
Though in my mind, it didn’t seem like anything remarkable. What I had made was just a simple version of basic French toast, the kind we all grew up eating: quickly soaked bread in a milk and egg mixture, and cooked in a skillet greased with a little butter.
But then, as I started looking into it and saw that there were so many variations of French toast recipes out there, I realized that I could certainly create a foolproof method to share with you on how to make the best possible French toast yet.
So I rolled up my sleeves and began my search. In my quest for the best French toast, I read through several cookbooks and food blogs. One thing I noticed was that most of the recipes were using brioche as the bread base due to its high butter and egg content. Though there were several recipes that used Challah as well, because I had already tasted this version, I wanted to give brioche French toast a try.
Since I used to make brioche all the time, I already had a foolproof recipe that I could use, which was a nice bonus. However, there was a little problem: the recipe I had called for bread flour and I couldn’t find any on the island. And so, back to the drawing board, I set out to to find a recipe that used good old all-purpose flour, aka the only kind of flour sold on the island.
Thankfully, my favorite cookbook of all time, The Cook’s Illustrated, had a recipe for a brioche made with all-purpose flour. As it usually is the case with this fantastic book, it was a foolproof recipe that came out perfectly after only one try. And to my surprise, I couldn’t even tell the difference between this one and the version that I used to make with bread flour.
Since that day, I have made at least 5 loaves of brioche and took some notes along the way. Here they are:
- Even though you don’t have to, I found that letting the dough sit in the fridge for at least 8 hours (up to 24 hours) yields better results.
- After you mix the dough in the food processor, the dough will be very sticky. You may find it hard to knead such a sticky dough. To make it a little more manageable, feel free to use up to a ½ cup of extra flour to help you knead it with more ease. But be aware that even with the additional flour, it may still be quite sticky. That is okay.
- It freezes very well – though make sure you slice the bread before freezing it. When you are ready to eat it, simply toast it on a low heat setting.
- I used my 8 ½ X 4 ½ loaf pan, but a 9X5 works just as fine.
- Make sure to wait for the bread to cool before slicing into it, otherwise you will end up with doughy bread. I had to learn this the hard way.
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 8
- 1/2 cup whole milk, at 110 degrees
- 2 1/4 teaspoon rapid-rise dry yeast
- 2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for the counter
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces – plus more for greasing the loaf pan
- 3 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk (optional)
- Whisk together the milk, yeast, and 1 cup of the flour in a small bowl. Cover it with stretch film and set aside.
- Place the butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5 (1 second each) pulses until combined.
- Add one egg at a time and process after each addition until thoroughly combined.
- Add the rest of the flour and the milk, yeast, and flour mixture, and process for 15 seconds.
- Transfer the tough onto a floured counter and knead until it is elastic and smooth. Don’t be alarmed if it is a little sticky.
- Place it in a bowl, cover with stretch film, and place in the fridge. Let it sit overnight.
- Butter 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 loaf pan and line the bottom of it with parchment paper.
- Press the dough into an 8-inch square on the counter. Roll it toward you into a firm cylinder, keeping it firm by tucking it under itself as you roll. Place it in loaf pan seam side down. Cover it loosely with stretch film and allow it to rise for 1 hour.
- Thirty minutes before baking turn the oven on and heat it to 350 F degrees.
- Using a sharp knife, make a slash along the top of the loaf, starting and stopping from 1 inch from the ends.
- If you prefer, brush the top of the loaf with an egg yolk. (Note: You may not have to use all of one egg yolk)
- Bake it for 40 minutes or until it registers 195 degrees when a thermometer is inserted from the side of the loaf.
- Allow it to cool for at least 2 hours on a wire rack before slicing.
A recipe adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook.