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Sugary French Toast with Poached Apples

November 10, 2009

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Mmmmm… breakfast foods.  I eat egg sandwiches or omlettes for dinner at least once a week, and if I could get away with it more often, I would.  When Nate suggested we have french toast for dinner over the weekend, I couldn’t say no.

I had some extra time on my hands so I decided to try a new french toast recipe.  The recipe I found involves two things I’ve never done before: caramelizing sugar on the outside of my french toast and poaching fruit.  To poach the fruit (apples, in this case), I mixed anise pods, orange zest, cinnamon sticks and honey with water, brought it to a boil, and added the apples.  I left out the sugar since the reviews said that the syrup was too sweet.  Sounds easy enough, right?

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Yeah…never having poached anything but eggs before, I’m not entirely convinced I did this right.  The apples started to disintegrate and got really mushy. And the syrup was kind of blah.

The recipe called for whole milk, but all I had was skim, which would have been fine, but I can never leave something like that alone.  I added some half and half to make it more whole-milk-like, and I discovered (after I’d mixed everything together and poured it over the bread) that the half and half had gone bad.  Oops.  Naturally, Nate wanted to know what happened after he heard a sudden (and loud) string of profanity from the kitchen.  I kept it a secret until he tried it and said it didn’t taste funny.  I didn’t use that much half and half, so you couldn’t really tell when everything was said and done.  Thank goodness for small miracles.

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I loved the way the french toast turned out (despite the bad half and half…) with this recipe– the caramelized sugar was crunchy and gave the french toast more flavor than usual (although part of this came from the fact that the sugar had, in some places, burned).  The apples paired nicely with the french toast, although they tasted kind of funky on their own. The syrup made by reducing the poaching liquid was definitely too sweet and had a stronger licorice flavor than most can handle.

This recipe definitely had some kinks that need to be worked out.  I don’t know when I’ll venture back out into the fruit-poaching world, and I’m not going to make my own syrup again.  I like maple syrup enough to not feel the need for a substitute.  It’ll be worth my time, though, to get the french toast right since, burnt sugar and everything, it really was some of the best french toast I’ve had in a while.  (What that says about the french toast I’ve been eating, I’ll leave for you to decide…)

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Sugar-Crusted French Toast with Poached Apples

(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

Poached apples

  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 3×1/2-inch strips orange peel
  • 4 3×1/2-inch strips lemon peel
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 medium apples (such as Braeburn or Golden Delicious), peeled, halved, cored

French toast

  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 31/2 cups whole milk
  • 2/3 cup plus 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 4x4x1-inch slices egg bread

For poached apples:
Combine first 7 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes. Add apples; cover and simmer until tender, about 12 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer apples to bowl. Boil syrup in saucepan until reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 10 minutes. Add syrup to bowl with apples. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

For french toast:
Whisk eggs, yolks, milk, 2/3 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt in 15x10x2-inch baking dish. Place bread in single layer in egg mixture; spoon egg mixture over bread and let stand until soaked through, about 3 minutes.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in each of 2 large nonstick skillets over medium heat. Sprinkle each skillet with 2 tablespoons sugar. Add 3 bread slices to each skillet; cook until deep golden on bottom, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle top of bread slices with sugar, using 2 tablespoons for each skillet; turn slices over and cook until deep golden on bottom, about 3 minutes. Transfer French toast to plates. Place 1 apple half alongside each serving. Drizzle French toast with some of syrup from apples and serve.

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