When I was a child, my mom ensured that we could make our own breakfast. The first thing I conquered was scrambled eggs. And from there, is was such a short journey to french toast. I mean, I was already scrambling the eggs. This time, instead of pouring the eggs directly into the skillet, I learned to dip bread slices in it first. And I learned that some breads work better than others. A thick, dense piece of pumpernickel just wasn’t going to cut it. Save the pumpernickel for salami or corned beef. A marble rye was for egg salad sandwiches. But softer, airier loaves could work. Even crusty rolls slices could work. As long as the inside was soft and fluffy, somewhere for all that eggy goodness to find a home.
And then there was the time spent in the skillet. Too hot of a setting, and the outside would burn while the inside would be soggy with raw egg and milk. Getting the temperature was crucial for my french toast success. I was 13, and was intent on getting it right. Flip one slice, then the other. Both of them turning that perfect golden brown with just the right amount of caramelizing going on (but I was 13 and had no idea what ‘caramelizing’ was!) Finished on to the plate and drowned by maple syrup. Because isn’t that why most of us make pancakes, waffles or french toast? To get the maple syrup?!
Fast forward many years. Now I’m even more adventurous. Trying different breads: stollen, brioche, challah, and panettone. All variations on the same theme, but yet slightly different from each other. Or the classic: thick cut raisin bread!! And on the side, crisp bacon or breakfast sausage. Because maple syrup isn’t just for the french toast- we’ve all discovered how amazing it is to have that glorious sweetness combine with the salty smokiness of the meat. Oh baby!
I love savoury french toast. Instead of sugar or sweet spices in the batter, how about adding parmesan and harissa powder or other savoury flavours to it? Instead of pouring maple syrup over the finished toast, what about a roasted tomato confit? or oxtail ragout?
But this recipe goes back to the traditional sweetness of a decadent breakfast, with Baked Oranges. I discovered this lovely recipe by Dale Gray (aka @thedaleyplate ) on Instagram a little while back. Just looking at her photo and the accompanying recipe made me swoon. She created a lovely syrup on the stove to be used to bake off oranges or clementines in the oven. It was exotic and yet totally accessible at the same time. Right away I thought about how I would like to prepare it myself. And I thought of french toast. So I tried it. It’s my new sweet french toast! I used some of the syrup in the batter, and the leftover syrup after the oranges were baked was poured over the toast. Sprinkled with pistachios, poppy seeds and some fresh Greek yogurt or skyr on the side, and it is completely sublime. The combination just makes me think of Persia or Turkey, the oranges, pistachios, yogurt and bay leaf. And I’m sharing. I hope you like it as I do!
PANETTONE FRENCH TOAST WITH BAKED ORANGES IN SYRUP
ORANGES IN SYRUP
- 8 oranges or clementines , peeled
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- juice and zest of two oranges
- 3 bay leaves
- 4-5 dashes angustura bitters (grapefruit or cardamom bitters are also an option!)
- 8 thick slices of panettone or other egg bread (challah or brioche)
- 8 tbsp whole milk or light cream
- 6 eggs
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 4 tbsp slivered pistachios
- 2 tsp of poppy seeds
Place butter, honey, juice and zest of the two oranges, and bitters into a saucepan over med-high heat. Cook down until reduced to a syrup. Set aside 2 tbsp of the syrup and let cool slightly.
Place peeled oranges or clementines into a baking dish and cover with the syrup. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat a skillet at medium to med-high heat. (Don't let pan get too hot)
Beat the milk or cream, eggs, and cinnamon in a shallow wide bowl or baking dish. Add 2 tbsp of the syrup into the batter. Soak your bread pieces in the egg mixture.
Add two tbsp of butter to the warmed pan. Let melt and start to bubble.
Allowing excess batter to run off, add bread pieces in batches to the butter.
Cook first side for 5-6 minutes, checking for browning. Turn when golden. Cook other side for another 4 minutes. This will be affected by the thickness of your slice. Transfer to a warmed plate.
Do the same with the remaining slices, adding more butter if necessary.
Plate your french toast. Drizzle warmed baked syrup over the toast and place 2 oranges with each serving. Scatter slivered pistachios and poppy seeds over the oranges and toast. Serve vanilla or greek yogurt on the side.
This recipe could not have come about without the creativity of Dale Gray, a fellow Instagrammer and amazing cook, photographer, 'feedfeed' editor, and teacher. Please visit her site on Instagram.