There's no better way to enjoy weekend brunch than this custard French toast. Not only is it incredibly easy to make, it's also better than any other I've tried. Sweet, soft Challah soaked in a vanilla and cinnamon infused custard and topped with fresh berries and bananas.
What could be more satisfying than bread with custardy centers, crispy edges, and loads of fruit?
The custard in this custard French toast is almost like Cremé Anglaise, or melted vanilla ice cream for those of you who don't know what that is. Once it hits the hot pan and cooks inside the butter, the sugar begins to caramelize and you end up with something magical and nothing like you've ever tried before.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
- Vanilla bean custard. Because this recipe isn't like your traditional French toast recipe, makes it even more special. Thick slices of Challah are soaked in an already made vanilla custard base. It makes it extra rich and indulgent.
- Challah bread. This egg enriched bread can really hold up to the thick custard. It's soft and tender and not overly sweet.
- Can be made a head of time. The custard can be made hours or even the night before.
- Easy to make. This recipe has just a few ingredients and simple steps.
KEY INGREDIENT NOTES
Here are some notes on the ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Challah- This usually braided egg bread can be found in your local super market. I use the entire loaf for this recipe.
- Vanilla bean- To give the custard a strong vanilla flavor, I use one whole vanilla bean which I infuse the seeds and pod into the liquid. You can substitute with vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
- Egg yolks- This recipe uses just egg yolks. It gives the custard a more velvety taste and a deeper yellow color.
- Cinnamon sticks- I use two 3-4" cinnamon sticks in which I infuse into the half and half.
- Half and half- I prefer using half and half rather than whole milk because it makes a richer custard.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
STEP 1: Heat half and half. Place half and half in medium size saucepan. Split vanilla bean in half and scrape out seeds. Add the seeds, pods and cinnamon sticks into saucepan. Heat on medium-high heat until scalding.
STEP 2: Mix eggs. Separate egg yolks from eggs and place inside bowl. Add sugar and whisk together until combined.
STEP 3: Temper eggs. Slowly add heated half and half into egg yolks and sugar mixture. Start slow and gradually add more as you whisk. Do not add too quickly or else you will scramble the eggs.
STEP 4: Cook the custard. Remove vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks and place liquid back into the saucepan. Heat on low heat and stir consistently until custard begins to thicken. Once it coats the back of a wooden spoon, remove it from the heat.
STEP 5: Cool custard. Strain through a fine sieve and chill inside refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight.
STEP 6: Soak bread. Cut Challah bread into 1" slices. In a deep baking dish, soak the sliced bread in the custard, around 6 minutes on each side.
STEP 7: Cook French toast. In a nonstick skillet, add 2 tablespoons of butter and heat until hot but not burning. Add 2-3 slices of soaked Challah and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until puffed and golden brown. Repeat with remaining bread slices.
STEP 8: Garnish and serve. Remove from pan onto a plate and top with fresh fruit. Drizzle with any leftover custard or maple syrup and dust with powdered sugar.
Here are some helpful tips to making the best French toast.
- Use a thick bread that can hold up to the rich custard and not fall apart.
- Let the bread soak in the custard for a sufficient amount of time. You can also gently press the bread into the custard to help it soak up more liquid.
- When heating the custard, cook it just until it coats the back of the spoon. It can go from smooth and silky to scrambled eggs very fast if you are not careful.
- Strain the custard through a fine sieve to remove any clumps.
- Wipe out the pan after each batch and start with fresh butter. This will ensure perfectly cooked slices of French toast each time.
- Make the custard the night before so that it's ready to go the next morning.
Since our custard is thick and not liquidy, you can let it soak for 10-15 minutes without the bread getting soggy.
Orange peel, cardamom, nutmeg or even Grand Marnier are all great options.
Use a thick sliced bread or loaf and cut them into 1" slices. Challah, Brioche, French Bread and Sourdough are all good.
STORING AND FREEZING
Store any leftover custard French toast inside an airtight container. Alternatively, wrap with plastic or foil. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
To freeze, place a sheet of wax or parchment paper in between each slice of French toast. Wrap with foil and place inside a Ziplock freezer bag. The French toast will stay fresh for up to 2 months.
To reheat, place sliced French toast in a single layer onto a lined cookie sheet. Set your toaster oven to medium and heat for 8-10 minutes or until warm.
OTHER FAMILY RECIPES TO TRY
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Custard French Toast
Custard French Toast
- 6 each Egg yolks
- ¾ cups White granulated sugar
- 1 each Vanilla Bean split in half
- 2 each Cinnamon sticks
- 2 cups Half and half
- 1 each Challah loaf 9 slices (cut in 1" slices)
- 6 tablespoon Butter unsalted, for cooking French toast
- 2 each Bananas ripe
- 1 pint Strawberries washed, hulled and cut in half
- 1 pint Raspberries
To Make The Custard French Toast
- Place half and half in medium size saucepan. Split vanilla bean in half and scrape out seeds. Add the seeds, pods and cinnamon sticks into saucepan. Heat on medium-high heat until scalding.
- Meanwhile, separate egg yolk from eggs. Place inside a large bowl and add sugar. Whisk until combined.
- Slowly add hot liquid to the egg mixture, a little at at time making sure to whisk constantly. Do not add it all at once or else your eggs will scramble.
- Place liquid back into the saucepan and stir over medium heat constantly until thickened. You will know it's ready once it coats the back of your wooden spoon.
- Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve to remove any clumps. Place inside the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes or overnight.
- Cut Challah loaf into 9 (1") slices.
- Place slices of Challah bread into cooled custard, letting each side soak for at least 6 minutes. You can leave longer if desired, just do not let the bread soak too much or it will fall apart.
- In a nonstick skillet, heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add 2-3 slices of Challah or however many you can fit into your pan. Cook until puffed and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Remove from pan and repeat for remaining slices. Make sure to wipe your pan clean and start over with fresh butter so the butter does not burn and become bitter and unpleasant.
- Top French toast with berries and bananas and drizzle maple syrup or any leftover vanilla custard you may have left. Dust with powdered sugar.