Challah French Toast | Birthday Brunch

french toast, bacon, fruit, and syrup on a table.
A great way to start the day.

In my household, we celebrate 3 birthdays in the span of one week. My oldest brother Luke, and my youngest brother William were both born on October 5th, and my birthday is on October 8th. As a family whose time together is mostly spent around the kitchen table, this usually leads to some special meals. This was definitely one of them. My brother’s girlfriend, Alden, offered to make french toast for the whole family on Luke and William’s birthday, and I was honored when she asked for some assistance! We all had little snacks in the morning, waiting for the real feast that was planned for brunch. By the time we finished cooking, the boys were eagerly standing behind us, grumpily asking if we were done yet. We’re still working patience in our family… Luckily for Alden and I, it was well worth the wait.

I’m going to be honest with you- french toast is not usually my first choice of breakfast food. I tend to prefer a good ol’ pancake or a crisp belgian waffle, but this recipe may have changed my opinion on the matter. I have never had french toast made with challah bread before, and goodness gracious, it was a game-changer. The custard mixture in this recipe combined with the fluffy challah bread make it taste and feel almost cake-like. (and who doesn’t want cake for breakfast?!) The outside had a nice crunch, and the inside stayed soft and fluffy. Served with the bright lemon zest and and fresh berries, this meal was a highlight of birthday season.

Sliced challah bread
The star of the show.

The recipe was adapted slightly from this recipe which was adapted slightly from Alton Brown’s recipe found here.

French toast on the griddle.
French toast on the griddle.

French Toast

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (warmed in microwave for 30 seconds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon (& additional cinnamon to be sprinkled on top)
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tbs. lemon zest
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 loaf of sliced day old bread (I used challah) – slices about 3/4 inch thick

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (or the “warm” setting for a big batch)
  2. Whisk milk, half and half, eggs, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a 9×13 pan.
  3. Soak bread slices for 15 seconds on each side and transfer to a cooling rack (that is placed on top of a sheet pan to catch any drippings). Let rest for 2 minutes. (optional: Sprinkle extra cinnamon on both sides before cooking)
  4. Spray some Pam in the pan and then heat a tablespoon of butter in a nonstick pan over medium-low heat and cook french toast slices for 2-3 minutes on each side in batches.
  5. Transfer cooked slices to a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove and zest lemon on top. Serve with fresh fruit, powdered sugar and maple syrup.

We didn’t necessarily pay attention to the baking step. Because we were cooking for a bit of a crowd, we transferred the slices into the oven on “warm” when they were done. They stayed in the oven closer to 8-10 minutes. This allowed everything to be warm at the same time. If you are making a single batch, I would recommend following the original cooking instructions, but the warming method worked very well for us!

French toast, bacon, berries, and syrup.
Breakfast fit for a birthday boy or girl!

Needless-to-say, we had a pretty fun morning. It’s always so much more satisfying and enjoyable to cook when you get to do it with someone else, and then share the finished product. If you have some time this weekend, you should invite some friends over to try this recipe! And if I happen to be one of those friends, that’s pretty cool too…. no pressure or anything… Anyway, thanks for joining me for another recipe! I hope you get a chance to try it out.

Happy cooking!

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