I never got French toast. The appeal of soggy, milky, eggy fried bread was lost on me. Everything changed when I was introduced to this distant cousin of the original by my own distant cousin on my first trip to the United States. The difference here was that the bread was soaked not in milk, but orange juice (though an egg was still involved). It was not fried, but baked. And even better than that, the underside crisped and caramelised as it cooked, with no supervision required. I've made this French toast for years now and it has many converts, including my parents, who have been known to break with their routine porridge/muesli breakfast for it on my visits home. It's a great way to use use odd ends of stale bread, or oranges after you've used the zest for something else. I like to serve it with a dollop of yoghurt to undercut the sweetness, some raspberries and pistachios for texture (other combinations of fruit and nuts would work just as well I'll bet), and maple syrup for tradition. Any old ovenproof dish will do to bake it in but in my experience it tastes best (like most things) cooked in a cast iron frypan.
I first posted this recipe in September last year but somehow - in one of the great mysteries of the internet - it got knocked back into the draft section of my blog. So I'm reposting it, with better photos taken from this weekend, when I had the honour of making it for its creator - the one and only Ann Darling - who is visiting Australia and staying with me at the moment.
Adapted from an original recipe by Ann Darling (well, my observations of her whirling around the kitchen while doing several other things at once)
Stale bread, sliced thickly (sourdough is best)
1 tablespoon butter (2 tablespoons in US measurements)
1 tablespoon honey (2 tablespoons in US measurements)
ground cinnamon to taste
pistachio kernels, chopped
plain yoghurt (the thick Greek stuff if possible)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
In a cast iron frypan, melt the butter and honey on the stovetop (if using an ovenproof dish, this can be done in the oven while it's warming). When melted, sprinkle with cinnamon (as much or as little as you like).
Juice the oranges and whisk with the egg in a large bowl. Dredge the slices of stale bread in this mixture and arrange on top of the melted butter and honey in the frypan. Try to get as many slices as possible in the pan - the soaked bread should be quite pliable. Squodge them in.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until top of bread is light brown, and underside darkly caramelised.
Serve on warmed plates with a dollop of yoghurt, a sprinkling of berries and pistachios, and maple syrup to taste.