My obsession with developing the perfect french toast recipe began about two weeks ago. I’d begun experimenting with fruit sauces and had exhausted one too many containers of Purely Decadent’s new cookie dough ice cream.
The problem was that the sauces could not be eaten by themselves; they simply had to be served on top of something. With yogurt and ricotta checked off my list, soy ice cream was my only choice. Trader Joes’ quality vanilla soy ice cream was about the only thing that could save what was becoming a caloric catastrophe.
Then it dawned on me: french toast. Whole wheat bread, non-fat milk, and fresh fruit? This eggy bread was about to meet its healthy adversary.
Known as gypsy toast in England, french toast is found anywhere from casual diners to upscale, 5-star restaurants, both for breakfast and dessert. My sauce was going to take a turn for the better, and become a morning special. While a stay-at-home dessert might skimp out on a garnish or toasted nut finish, a breakfast dish had to be perfect, and complete. Waking up to soggy toast on Saturday morning doesn’t sound fun to me.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my future, and what I want for myself in the coming years. I don’t think I want to own a restaurant, or have the guts to head back to school right now. But I realized that – even though I try to limit my splurging – my real passion is for sweets.
Growing up only an hour from my grandparents meant weekends in Ipswich and Sunday trips to the local donut shop. My grandfather loved the chocolate crullers and was a regular customer – so much so, that by the time I was 10 we practically had two seats with our names engraved on them. I can’t remember leaving my stool once before I had at least two of their warm, cinnamon sugar donuts.
Not to brag, but my grandfather, Ray Broekel, turns out to be quite a character in the candy world – something I didn’t realize until he passed away a few years ago. His collection of over 20,000 candy wrappers sits in a glass case at the American Museum of Candy History in Maryland and hundreds of books on candy history mark him as one of the few serious authorities on candy in the world. Google him – he’s all over the place.
Needless to say, I know exactly where my sweet tooth comes from. I know why I see myself opening a bakery in the coming years and why my first goal will be to develop the perfect cinnamon sugar donut. It’s no surprise I left the ice cream behind for the french toast; they’re practically cousins.
I haven’t yet perfected the technique for my blackberry french toast – but I suppose I can let you in on a few secrets so far: stick to day-old bread, quick custard soaking, and a hot non-stick skillet. For the sauce, use a mixture of fresh and frozen berries, sugar and cornstarch.
Even if you find different ways to get there, I think that like me, you’ll be quite happy with the end result.