Pillow Talk French Toast
Provided by: Melissa Roberts
There's no need to stand at the stove to make French toast - just pop it in the oven and it develops a pillowy center and crunchy edges. Drizzled with fresh strawberry syrup and dollops of whipped cream, it's a romantic breakfast indulgence.
- For strawberry syrup:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 cups (1 pint) strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- For French toast:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces (plus more for greasing the pans)
- 8 (3/4-inch-thick) slices brioche (from a 1 pound loaf)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- For whipped cream topping (optional):
- 1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Special equipment: a shallow (1 1/2-quart) baking dish; a 3- to 4-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter
- Make syrup:
- Heat sugar and water together in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in strawberries then lemon juice. Let stand while preparing French toast.
- Make French toast:
Grease baking dish with some butter. Arrange 4 slices of brioche in pan in a single but slightly overlapping layer. Cut out hearts (with cutter) in remaining 4 slices brioche (discard or nibble on crusts). Arrange hearts over brioche slices in dish.
- Beat together milk, eggs, 3 tablespoons sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Pour over brioche, then gently press down on bread to submerge and soak in custard. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over top and dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Let stand until most of custard is absorbed into bread, 15 to 20 minutes (spoon some custard over top once or twice while standing).
- While bread stands, preheat oven to 425F with rack in middle. Bake French toast until golden and custard is just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool about 10 minutes before serving.
- Make whipped cream while French toast cools:
Beat cream with sugar until soft peaks form.
*An equal amount of Challah can be substituted for the brioche in this recipe.
*This recipe can easily be halved to serve 2. Use a 9-inch pie plate for baking.