- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature if possible
- 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 8 or 9 3⁄4-inch-thick slices Challah bread (from a 1-pound loaf, slightly stale is fine)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup fresh ripe summer berries (including diced strawberries, whole raspberries or black raspberries, and blueberries or small blackberries)
In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Set aside.
In a large, shallow mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the remaining sugar until well combined. Add the half-and-half, 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup, the vanilla, salt, and nutmeg. Whisk again until well combined.
Submerge two or three slices of the bread (whatever will fit into the bowl and into your skillet in one batch) in the egg custard to soak for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot and the butter is foaming, add the coated bread slices to the skillet. Cook without moving until the bottom is a mottled golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully turn the bread pieces over and cook on the other side until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to warm plates and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if desired, or transfer to an oven-proof platter if keeping warm, and don’t add cinnamon sugar until serving. Leave the skillet off the heat for a minute. Put two to three more pieces of bread in the custard to soak.
Meanwhile, combine 1⁄4 cup of the maple syrup and a third of the berries in a small skillet. Mash some of the berries with the back of a fork while the syrup is heating. When the syrup is bubbling and the fruit is warmed through and releasing its juices (2 to 3 minutes), pour it over the slices of cooked French toast and serve. (Don’t let the syrup bubble for long or it will start reducing.) Reserve the syrup skillet.
Return the large skillet to medium heat, add another 1 tablespoon butter, and cook the second batch of soaked bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if desired. Make the second batch of berry syrup and pour over the toast. Repeat with the third and last batch of bread and syrup.
We make French toast "to order," but if you want to serve it all at once, you can keep it in a warm (200°) oven. Just don't mix and heat the syrup until serving.
Excerpted from "Fresh from the Farm," by Susie Middleton. © 2014 by The Taunton Press. Used with permission.