Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Orange-Infused French Toast With Maple-Glazed Pears

I've posted about French toast before, but I couldn't not include this version as it's the best one I've tried to date.

I was in the mood for breakfast for dinner tonight, French toast specifically, but put off by the mediocre bread I had in the fridge. Hard to go back to the run-of-the-mill grocery store variety when you're used to using challah (it really is the ultimate bread for French toast).

So, I was determined to make up for the lousy bread by elevating everything else, from the egg batter to the toppings. I started by slicing up some gorgeous Bartlett pears and sauteing them in butter and maple syrup until they were softened. For the batter, I mixed eggs with a splash of milk, some cinnamon, some orange zest and orange juice, and a pinch of salt. I dredged the bread slices for about 30 seconds on each side, and then fried them up in some butter. I like to keep the oven at about 300F, and I place the cooked slices on a baking sheet to keep warm.

Once the bread was nicely browned on both sides, I toasted some sliced almonds in my fry pan for a finishing touch. I then plated it up: French toast on the bottom, maple pears and toasted almond slices over top. A final drizzle of maple syrup over it all, and done! I have to say it was a fantastic combination. The orange really came through and complemented the pears nicely. And the almonds added a welcome crunch. For a made-up recipe, it turned out quite well! Even with the crappy bread!

Orange-Infused French Toast With Maple-Glazed Pears

8 slices of bread, preferably challah
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Zest and juice of half an orange
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter

Maple Glazed Pears:

3 Bartlett pears, sliced
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp butter

1/2 cup sliced almonds, for garnish

Preheat oven to 300F.

Toast sliced almonds in a dry fry pan over medium heat until golden, 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

Heat 3 tbsp butter in the same pan. Once melted and starting to foam, add sliced pears and saute for 2 minutes. Add the maple syrup, stir to ensure pears are evenly coated, and continue to cook until pears are slightly softened and syrup is warmed through.

Make the batter by beating eggs, then adding milk, cinnamon, salt, orange zest and orange juice. Put batter in a large shallow dish and dip bread slices in, one at a time, for 30 seconds a side. Meanwhile, heat clean fry pan to medium-low and add 1 tbsp of butter. Cook two slices at a time if your pan is big enough. The bread should need about 3 minutes per side -- if it's not browning, turn up the heat. Between batches, add 1 tbsp of butter to the pan to keep the bread from sticking (and for flavour!).

Once each batch is done, put the slices on a baking sheet in the preheated oven to keep warm. Serve two slices of French toast per person, and garnish with the pears, almonds, and a final drizzle of maple syrup.