Challah is a traditionally Jewish bread that is made with white flour, eggs, and a bit of sweetener (sugar or honey). It's braided into a loaf (sounding familiar now?), and then baked with an egg wash to make the crust golden, soft and shiny. Like so:
So, when you're making French toast and you've already started with a soft, rich, sweet, eggy bread, once you add all the ingredients to make the bread softer, richer, sweeter, and eggier, you have got a combonation that can't be beat! The recipe I am sharing with you today is a great recipe, but really you can use any French toast recipe that you might like. Just replace your normal bread with challah. You can even do it with the "it's too early to read a cookbook and/or measure things out and I'm just going to estimate the ingredients" morning French toast.
I am sharing with you a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa. I have only made it once, and it was quite delicious (the only reason I have not made it again is our complete lack of self control at the breakfast table when the platter was set before us). What set this recipe apart from others is that it uses orange juice and zest to give the French toast a good kick. Usually, if it's just two of us eating I will cut the recipe in half. I buy a whole loaf of challah and then freeze the second half for later use.
Challah French Toast
- 6 extra-large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or milk
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon good honey
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large loaf challah or brioche bread
- Unsalted butter
- Vegetable oil
- Pure maple syrup
- Good raspberry preserves (optional)
- Sifted confectioners' sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, orange zest, vanilla, honey, and salt. Slice the challah in 3/4-inch thick slices. Soak as many slices in the egg mixture as possible for 5 minutes, turning once.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a very large saute pan over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in the oven. Fry the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter and oil as needed, until it's all cooked. Serve hot with maple syrup, raspberry preserves, and/or confectioners' sugar.