It’s one of life’s little mysteries: The French didn’t invent, and typically don’t make, French toast. With their leftover bread they might bake up some pain perdu (bread pudding, which is baked, not fried), and serve it for dessert. But “French toast “ in a skillet? Non. And for breakfast, never.
Nor, for that matter, did French fries originate in France (they’re from Belgium). And don’t get Nicole, our châtelaine, started on “French fried onion rings”. An American visitor once brought her some from the states, in a can (the kind that go on green bean casserole). She was completely baffled “Why would they call them French?” she sniffed. “We don’t batter-fry onions, and if we did we would never put them in a can!”
Go figure. Anyway, I love French toast, so why not make it really French and decadent, from a loaf of brioche? Which is exactly what I did, and I served it for dinner, to shake things up a bit. If you can’t get your hands on brioche, challah will do nicely.
Another advantage: It’s quick. The night I was making it, it was 7pm, and Ron was getting a bit antsy. “You haven’t started dinner yet”, he said (knowing that after a nice glass of white Burgundy for apperos, I’ve been known to forget that there’s cooking to be done). But by 7:20, the French toast was on the table.
I made two quick toppings: a fresh raspberry peach compote, and caramelized bananas with Gran Marnier. For meat eaters, a couple of slices of bacon would round out the meal, but we were just fine with our not-quite-French French toast.
RECIPE: Brioche French toast with Two Toppings
For the toast, I used Sam Sifton’s recipe for French toast Amandine, which turned out perfect. Then I made these toppings:
Topping #1: Stir together fresh peaches and raspberries, sprinkle lightly with sugar to make them juicy, and stir.
Topping #2: Melt a bit of butter in a skillet over medium heat and add a couple of sliced bananas. Toss well to coat and stir in a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. Cook, stirring, until sugar melts and mixture bubbles, just a minute or two. Add a splash of Gran Marnier and boil for a minute, until mixture thickens to a thin syrup.
Sprinkle French toast with confectioner’s sugar and serve with toppings.
In the Comments: Want more photos and info on L'isle sur la Sorgue? Go to the post on that fun town at Kim Defforge's blog, 24/7 in France.
Those of you who love Tom Vieth's French paintings of the Dordogne (see the Small Village in France blog) will be happy to know he has made some of them into tea towels and silk scarves. See them at Lily O's.