Monday, May 14, 2012

Brunch Magic with Boozy Baked French Toast

I adore brunch. It’s part of San Francisco’s food soul. We know how to Brunch in this city and we take our late morning meals very seriously. So it’s no surprise my family opted for a brunch mother’s day fiesta. We actually got to do it two weekends in a row since my folks were in town visiting the weekend before mother’s day and then the in-laws came over on actual mother’s day. The one drawback of hosting is the hostess is always running about the kitchen and prancing in and out of conversation like a little food fairy. For once I wanted to sit and chat and enjoy relaxing while also hosting so I turned to my girl, smittenkitchen for some ideas and man did she deliver! I played with her Baked Boozy French Toast recipe and it was a major hit. Super easy; prep the night before and then throw it in the oven the day of. That’s it. I paired it with soft scrambled eggs (ie. cook low and slow stirring constantly and you get the creamiest eggs ever) and some bacon that I baked off in the oven (400 degrees for 15 mins). I threw together a quick fruit salad (or have your brother-in-law do it which was what I did the second weekend) and an easy berry compote (optional but awesome) and we were set. I could spend the morning sipping far too many mimosas and not hoarding over the stove. So next time you want a brunch that wow’s the table but doesn’t make you wish you could clone yourself, try this French toast. It’s brunch magic!

Boozy Baked French Toast
Adapted from SmittenKitchen

1 loaf supermarket Challah bread in 1-inch slices (or one loaf brioche)
3 cups whole milk
3 eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Plus cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling
Your choice of flavorings: I used 3 tablespoons Amarula, which is an amazing South African liquor but could also use Bailey’s, and 3 tablespoons Cointreau. Can use anything….smittenkitchen suggests Frangelico (hazelnut), Chambord (raspberry), Creme de Cassis (black currant) Grand Marnier or just a teaspoon or two of vanilla or almond extract can do the trick. You can bump up a citrus flavor with a teaspoon of zest, add a half-cup of chopped nuts such as almond slivers or pecans between layers or on top or a similar amount of raisins or other dried fruits.

Generously grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with salted (my choice) or unsalted butter. Arrange bread in two tightly-packed layers in the pan. Ccut one slice into smaller pieces to fill in gaps, especially when using braided Challah. If using a thinner-sliced bread, you might wish for more layers, though I find that over three, even baking can be difficult. If you are using any fillings of fruit or nuts, this is the time to get them between the layers or sprinkled atop. Push bread down to be sure you’ve got in there snuggly.
 Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt and booze or flavorings of your choice and pour over the bread. Gently press bread down to be sure it’s in there snuggly again. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The bread will absorb all of the milk custard while you sleep.

Bake at 425 for 35 minutes, or until puffed and golden. This will take longer if you have additional layers. Check after 20 mins and lay a sheet of tinfoil lightly over top to prevent from burning.
 Cut into generous squares and serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit, powdered sugar or all of the above.
Serves 6 as main course.

Costco Berry Compote

A Girl and Her Kitchen

1 c frozen mixed berries (whatever big bag Costco has I use)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Lemon zest (1/2 lemon)

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and cook over medium low heat stirring occasionally. Bring to a simmer and cook 5-10 minutes until desired thickness (it will thicken as it cools). Serve warm.

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