How To Make Southern French Toast Bursting With Fall Flavor
by Esme Addison
This morning I made French toast for my sons. I don’t make it that often. Pancakes are more my go-to for the kids when they want something sweet. But there’s nothing more decadent than a cakey breakfast tasting and smelling of warmed butter, earthy vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup lifted by the brightness of lemon.
I call my French Toast “southern” because… well, I’m southern and this is my recipe! I also live in the Southern United States and I think my inclination to make this breakfast recipe with indulgent ingredients is part and parcel of most southern recipes that prioritize full fat, flavor, comfort and heartiness.
My recipe is inherently appropriate for autumn because of the harvest-inspired spices I use. Both warming and evocative of a fall harvest, my Southern French Toast is perfect for a crisp autumn day.
You’ll find that my recipe is more cream less egg and full of autumn spice.
Esme Addison’s Southern French Toast
- 4 slices of bread (Whatever type you have on hand (Cinnamon and raisin bread work well. I prefer thickly cut sandwich bread or brioche)
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup half and half
- ¼ cup full fat milk
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 allspice dried berries (or 1 pinch of ground allspice)
- 1 clove berry (or 1 pinch of ground clove – use sparingly. It’s strong!)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 stick of butter, cut into small slices (As needed. If you have salted butter, omit the additional salt in this recipe.)
- Optional: 1 lemon
- Optional: Fried apples (Just peel, slice and lightly fry apples to your preferred texture. I like soft on the outside but still a little crispy. Use butter or refined coconut oil (Same as you’re using for the toast). Flavor with the same spices as above to taste.
- Whisk together eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Pour into a low-sided dish and add clove and allspice berries to soak in the mixture. If you have ground clove and allspice, add it along with the other spices. Add one squeeze of lemon to add sweet contrast to the spices.
- Bring a frying pan to low-medium heat.
- Dunk both sides of bread slice into the egg mixture, allowing each slice to soak up the eggs. Not so long that it gets soggy – the bread may tear when lifted. About a minute each side or less.
- Drop a large pat of butter onto the griddle and let melt, coating the pan. (Refined coconut oil also works. If you choose this option, add melted butter to finish and flavor the French toast. Keep you eye on butter. It has a low smoke point and burns quickly.)
- Place slices in the frying pan, making sure not to crowd them. Cook 1-2 minutes per side, or until golden brown. (Depends on how you like your eggs. If you like softly scrambled: 1-2 minutes. If you like your eggs scrambled hard, you might prefer 2-3 minutes. However, you don’t want to over cook the egg mixture. When you can smell burning eggs, the toast has cooked too long.)
- Serve with butter and maple syrup. (Top with apples if you made them. Many recipes call for confectioners sugar. I strive for less sugar than more. It’s pretty but I’m already giving my kids maple syrup… so no confectioners sugar for us. You may feel differently! And that’s fine.)
- Serve warm. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream if you have it.
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