olive oil french toast

As much as I love smoothies, muesli, cereal and toast, Sunday mornings are the perfect time to really enjoy a hot breakfast.  One of my favorite warm breakfast treats is french toast. For some reason, it always reminds me of vacation (which is a much needed reminder now that school is about to start!). It’s a bit fancy, special, and quicker than pancakes.

As I was reading Orangette’s book A Homemade Life, her dad’s french toast recipe stuck out to me. It’s just regular french toast: eggs, milk, a dash of vanilla. But it’s cooked in a generous glug of oil — not butter. Call me crazy, but this is the one time that I believe that oil works better. It doesn’t burn in the pan like butter does — and lightly fries the bread to a crispy, golden-brown crust. *no soggy french toast here!

soaking in eggy goodness

In addition to the technique, I believe that really good French toast starts with really good bread. I made mine with a day old loaf of my Sweet Hawaiian Bread, which added a subtle, sweet mango flavor to the dish.

getting nice and crispy!

What’s your favorite special breakfast?
With love,
Erica

P.S. This post was featured on the Huffington Post website as one of the top 20 recipes for French toast!

delicious with some maple syrup, bananas, and berries

Ingredients
1 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
light-tasting olive oil
6 slices bread (I used my Hawaiian loaf — but French, brioche, or challah would work well), about ¾ to 1 inch thick
Pure maple syrup, for serving

Whisk together the first six ingredients in a wide, shallow bowl.

Place
a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over low to medium heat, and add
a few glugs of oil to cover the bottom of the skillet (about 1/8 inch thick).

Two or three
at a time, add the bread slices to the egg mixture in the bowl,
allowing them to rest for a minute or two on each side. They should feel
heavy and thoroughly saturated, but they should not be falling apart.
When the oil is hot, place the slices in the skillet. They should sizzle
a bit, and the oil should bubble lightly around the edges of the bread. Cook until the underside of each slice is golden brown, about 2
minutes. Turn the bread, and cook
another 2 minutes or so. Remove the bread from the skillet to a plate
lined with a paper towel, allow to rest for 30 seconds or so, and serve
immediately.

Adapted from A Homemade Life

blueberry french toast casserole

We have been enjoying the last few days in Point Reyes, CA — soaking up the serene, rural atmosphere away from the bustle of San Francisco. Thankfully, the house where we are staying has a well-stocked kitchen, and I had the opportunity to make this leisurely breakfast to enjoy before heading out and exploring the nature and local flavor of the Bay.

There is something very satisfying about cooking at home on vacation. This is probably due to the fact that we have been eating out for almost every meal — and I can savor every gooey, buttery bite of this french toast casserole while thinking to myself “this would’ve cost me $12.95 at a restaurant.”

This is a very simple recipe that takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and can be made the night before. After soaking in the fridge overnight, you simply pop the dish in the oven, sit back, relax with a magazine and a cup of coffee, and watch the magic happen as it bakes into this glorious, custard-y, gourmet casserole! Forty minutes later, the custardy mixture that you prepared the night before has  gently puffed into this custardy, light, toasted casserole — complete with golden, sweet caramalized edges. 

The plump little blueberries add a tart, sweet pop to every bite (and how could I pass up buying a big, juicy pint of California blueberries?!) What a
great way to get some antioxidants in your diet, am I right?! 😉  This would be the perfect recipe for an impressive, low-maintenance holiday breakfast or brunch party (because who wants to stay up light making time consuming pastries and cinnamon rolls the night before a party?). Or even just to treat your family to a lazy weekend brunch. 

What’s your favorite lazy morning breakfast?
With love,
Erica

Ingredients

  • Butter, for greasing
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (use whole milk for a richer taste)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup, plus extra for serving
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus 1 tablespoon (I used pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 loaf day-old challah or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2  cups fresh or frozen, thawed, and drained blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Butter a square baking dish (mine was 9×9). Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the milk, maple
syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Add the bread cubes and mix until
coated. Stir in the blueberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared
baking dish. I suggest leaving it in the fridge overnight so that the bread can really soak up the custard, but you could bake it now if you wanted to.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a small bowl, mix together the remaining cinnamon and sugar.
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the egg mixture in an even layer. Bake
for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is set. Let sit for 5 minutes after removing from the oven.
Spoon onto serving plates and drizzle with maple syrup.

crispy cinnamon toast crunch french toast {sunday brunch}

What’s better than cinnamon swirl toast? cinnamon swirl french toast. This recipe was inspired by one of the many wonderful people I have met through this blog, Chloe from Every Craving. She is another teenage food blogger, and she takes beautiful photographs and has tons of unique, fun and delicious recipes on her blog such as Honey Nut Cheerio French Toast — which gave me the crazy idea to coat my french toast in Cinnamon Toast Crunch! 
I used the leftover half of my (already decadent) cinnamon swirl brioche, followed (my idol) Alton Brown’s world famous french toast recipe, and coated each of these thick buttery slices of brioche in crunched up cinnamon toast crunch cereal. 
The result was something out of this world. The toast had a crunchy, sweet, caramelized cinnamon crust, and a custard-y, eggy, soft interior. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Perfection in every bite. Nonetheless, this will definitely be one of my new go-to brunch recipes.
What’s your favorite breakfast cereal? (who knows, maybe it would make some killer french toast.)

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • cereal (such as cinnamon toast crunch or cinnamon chex)
  • 8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Directions

In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the milk , eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.
Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

Adapted from Alton Brown’s French Toast

butter croissants

Rich, warm and buttery fresh from the oven
A luxurious, weekend breakfast

I have to be honest, the task of making my own croissants from scratch was intimidating at first; however, once I got immersed in the challenge, not only was it fun, but the process was much more fool-proof than I expected. Plus, the finished product was so worth it — I’ve never experienced anything quite like pulling these flaky, light pastries out of a warm oven, with their luxurious buttery aroma wafting around my kitchen. And they tasted that much better knowing that I made them with my own hands. These croissants were magically delicious. They had a soft, delicate, pillowy interior with a crisp, buttery, outer layer that shattered upon being bitten into. So have no fear, I will walk you through step-by-step and on making these melt-in-your mouth croissants at home.
With love,
Erica

Croissants

Adapted from Best of Fine Cooking: Breads

Ingredients
For the dough:
4 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk (I ran out of milk, so I used almond milk)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
1 tablespoon + 1 scant teaspoon instant yeast
2 1/4 teaspoon salt
Butter Layer:
1 1/4 cups cold, unsalted butter
Egg wash:
1 egg
Day 1
  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. 
  2. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, and medium speed for an additional 3 minutes. 
  3. Place the dough on a lightly floured plate, wrap well in plastic, and refrigerate overnight
Day 2
  1.   Cut the cold butter lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick slabs (about 3 slabs per stick) and arrange the pieces on a sheet of parchment paper to form a 6×6 inch square. 
  2. Top with another sheet of parchment and pound the butter with even strokes with a rolling pin. 
  3. As the pieces begin to stick together, use more force and roll it into a 7.5×7.5 inch square.
  4. Trim the edges off and pound them into the center of the square.
  5. Refrigerate while you roll out the dough.
  6. Unwrap the dough and lay it on a lightly floured surface. 
  7. Roll it into a 10.5 inch square.
  8. Take the butter square out of the fridge and unwrap and place it on the dough so that the points of the butter square are centered along the sides of the dough square. 
  9. Fold the flaps of dough over the butter and press the edges together to completely seal the butter inside the dough.
  10. Lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough, and roll it into an 8×24 inch rectangle, focusing on lengthening rather than widening. 
  11. Pick up one short end of the dough and fold it over the dough, leaving one third of the dough exposed, and roll it over once more (fold the dough into thirds)
  12. Freeze for 20 minutes. 
  13. Repeat the rolling and folding process (steps 10-12) 2 more times.
  14. Cover the dough and refrigerate overnight.
Day 3
  1. Unwrap and lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough.
  2. Roll the dough into a long and narrow strip (8×44 inches) *hang in there! its a great arm workout!
  3. After you have finished rolling, check to make sure that there is enough excess dough on both ends to allow you to trim the ends straight and allow for the remaining strip of dough to be 40 inches long.
  4. Lay a tape measure lengthwise along your dough. On one side, mark the dough in 5 inch intervals. On the other side, mark the dough at 2.5 inch intervals. Make diagonal cuts by positioning a ruler at the top corner and the first bottom mark (2.5″ side). With a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough diagonally along these lines to form 15 triangles.
  5. Shape the croissants by making a 1/2 inch notch in the center of the short side of each triangle (this gives them a crescent shape). Hold the dough and gently elongate it without squeezing or compressing. Lay the croissant on the counter with the notched side closest to you and roll the dough away from you toward the pointed end. Flare your hands outward as you roll to make the “legs” longer. 
  6. Bend the two “legs” toward each other in a crescent shape and place on a baking sheet (I recommend around 5-7 croissants per sheet).
  7. Brush the croissants with egg wash (place leftover egg wash in the fridge to use later)
  8. Proof the croissants for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (Or proof them overnight in the fridge, and let them come to room temperature for about an hour before baking in the morning)
  9. Brush them once more with egg wash.
  10. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway, until they have a nice golden brown color and darkened edges. 
  12. Cool and enjoy!

Croissant