31 March 2013

Easter French Toast

Happy Easter Sunday! I have tried making hot cross buns a few times in the lead up to Easter but haven't been completely happy with any I made (though they all vanished anyway). I am a planner, I like to have an outline of what I'm going to be making for the blog weeks in advance, plan what will be available in different seasons, or what festive occasion is coming and play around with recipes so when the time comes it's easy. So even though I wasn't happy with my hot cross buns I still thought 'I have Saturday to get them right'... then I woke up with a cracking headache. At this point I cursed myself for having: (A) decided to start a blog in the first place when I could have days of absolutely nothing stretching out in front of me; and (B) deciding that my blog would have groupings of 3 recipes! Idiot! 

Some days you just want to stay in bed with a paw over your eyes and not cook anything... that's where French toast comes in. Most people have day old bread of some form, eggs and milk in the house, French toast is quick and delicious and you can make it as simple or fancy as you like. Earlier last week I went past the Italian bakery Smith's Cakes & Aquilana Pasticceria on Smith Street in Collingwood and bought a Colomba di Pasqua, a traditional Italian Easter bread made in the shape of a dove, the symbol of Peace and Christ. As well as it looking impressive, the lovely lady at the bakery told me I should dip it in coffee or eat it with a glass of champagne - how could I not buy one? Colomba is similar in texture and flavour to Panettone with very fine candied peel throughout and covered in nib sugar and almonds which toast as it's baked forming a sweet crust. It is quite airy and a little dry which is why you dip it in your coffee. It also makes superb French toast! 
Usually you would use slightly stale bread for French toast, and if you don't have Colomba or Panettone you can use any thick cut bread, the 'cafe style' raisin toast works nicely as well. If using Colomba or Panettone you don't actually need syrup or icing sugar but I like maple syrup on them as well.
Ingredients (for 2 - 4 people, depending on how hungry you are):
(from Stephanie Alexander's recipe - with the addition of Colomba)
  • 4 thick slices of Colomba bread (approximately 4 cm thick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablepoons caster sugar
  • 1 cup full cream milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • butter for the frying pan
  • icing sugar or syrup to serve
  1. whisk egg, sugar, milk and nutmeg together until well combined, pour into a wide shallow dish
  2. place the bread in a single layer in the egg/milk mix and let it soak for 2 minutes, carefully turn over and let the other side soak for another 2 minutes
  3. melt some butter in a fry pan at medium heat and fry the toast for approximately 1 - 2 minutes on each side - until golden brown and crisp on each side and hot through
  4. serve as is (with Colomba bread) or with icing sugar or syrup
  5. then go back to bed and sleep some more!

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