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Tartine Baked French Toast

Tartine Baked French Toast

I’ve decided that during the summer, all mornings count as weekends, regardless of my to-do list. A relaxed schedule makes it seem like summer holidays, particularly when taking our time with coffee and carbohydrates in the morning.

When there’s surplus good bread around, French toast is It. I never follow a recipe – it’s just eggs, milk and bread, right? Perhaps a splash of vanilla in the egg-milk slurry. But this time I came across a new formula that required cooking soaked bread in a hot pan long enough that it developed a crusty bottom, which would then help contain even more custard you poured in as it cooked, and then the whole pan was transferred to the oven to cook evenly through, almost soufflé-style.

Tartine French toast 3
Look how thick that bread is! I decided to follow instructions for once, and even pulled my ruler out of a drawer to be sure I was at 1 1/2 inches thick. This is the kind of French toast you get in a restaurant, and instantly share on Instagram. I read about it in bed, of course, at midnight, as I tend to do – I’m one of those people with stacks of cookbooks piled up beside my bed to flip through. Last week a Kindle Paperwhite arrived at the door, with a suggestion to upload some cookbooks (Tartine!) and bring it into the kitchen.

First I brought it into the bedroom – the matte screen and warm light (and small size compared to so many coffee table-sized cookbooks out there) made it easy to read. Especially books like Tartine Bread, which are text-heavy I want to read from cover to cover in order to learn more of the intricacies of bread baking.

Tartine French toast 4

I will say this: unlike many cookbooks, it lies flat. I worried at first about the unit getting splashed or spilled on, but the case has done a good job of protecting it so far. It’s a bit like getting a nice new (and pricey) cookbook; you kind of have to resign yourself to the fact that it’s going to get sticky. At first I didn’t like that the photos were black and white, but it was easy to reference the recipe itself, and honestly, I’m a total sucker for matte black and white photos. How gorgeous are these?

Tartine French toast 2

As you’ll see above, the instructions for Tartine-style French toast call for you to pour as much custard into the bread as it will structurally stand. It kind of poured over and pooled around mine, but if yours can take any more, give it a go. I found that if you aren’t that set on adding even more custard in the pan, it’s enough for three thick slices. Or four if they’re only an inch thick.

Tartine Baked French Toast

And although the serving suggestion was crusty-side-up, I like the way the softer side collapsed in on itself as it cooled, like a soufflé, creating a place for the melted butter and syrup to pool. Which you needed, the toast itself was so thick. Happy weekend!

Tartine Baked French Toast
Tartine Baked French Toast

Tartine Baked French Toast

Recipe link

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August 26, 2017

Ingredients

Custard:

3 large eggs

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup milk

2 slices day-old country bread, about 1½ inches thick

2 Tbsp butter

Directions

1In a shallow dish or pie plate, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt and milk. Place the bread slices in the custard base, flipping once or twice to saturate them well, and let stand for about an hour (or overnight), until the bread is even more saturated.

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3Preheat the oven to 350?F. Set a heavy skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. Lift each bread slice from the custard base and place in the pan. Cook the slices for about 3 minutes, occasionally pressing them against the bottom of the pan with a spatula so the bottoms cook evenly. This step seals the bottoms of the slices by creating a crusty bottom, preparing the bread to absorb more custard base.

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5Spoon or ladle more of the egg mixture into the centre of each bread slice, if it will take more without running down the sides or out the bottom. Cook for another minute, pressing the slices slightly to seal. When the slices are full of custard, carefully transfer the skillet to the middle rack of the oven without flipping.

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7Bake for 15 minutes, and then gently shake the pan. If the custard base is still liquid, continue baking and check again. It should take about 20 minutes (depending on the thickness of the bread) to cook all the way through. The French toast is done when the custard seems solid and each slice appears puffed, as the custard souffles when fully cooked.

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9Using the spatula, remove the French toast from the skillet and place them, caramelized-side up, onto the plates. Serves 2-4 (they're pretty thick).

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