Sunday, October 21, 2007

Baked Apple French Toast

This is loosely based on a recipe for Lemon-Raspberry French Toast Strata that appeared in Bon Appetit in March 2007, as well as a couple of other recipes that turned up in some googling. I had some good, crusty bread that was going stale and needed to be used up, so I thought first of French toast (which I love). But since I was going to be making an omelet for someone at the same time, I wanted to do something that could be made ahead and stuck in the oven at the appropriate time. Hence the French toast strata recipe. Raspberries being out of season, and apples being very much in season, I thought I'd tweak things a bit. Or a lot. One of the best things about this recipe is that you put it together the night before you want to eat it, and in the morning, all you have to do is stick it in a preheated oven. If you prepare it the same morning you bake it, it should still be fine, but do let it rest as long as possible before baking--you want to allow the bread to soak up the egg-milk mixture.

A note about the ratio of liquid to bread. Because this recipe is something of a mishmash of a few recipes, and because the dish I used was a different size from what was used in the other recipes, I estimated when figuring out how much milk, egg, and bread to use. The ratio I used (I did, in fact measure the quantities I actually used) makes for a slightly dry, crunchy top. I like the contrast between the crunchy top and the custardy interior, but if you prefer it more uniform, you could add an extra egg yolk and/or some more milk.

Baked Apple French Toast
Serves 3-4

1 medium-sized apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1" pieces (about 3/4 cup)
1 T butter, plus more to spread in baking dish
1 cinnamon stick, broken into two pieces.
6-8 whole cloves
4-6 whole allspice
2-3 T raisins, as desired
4 cups slightly stale bread, cut into 1" cubes
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1/4 tsp. salt
3 T maple syrup, or enough to coat the bottom of the dish, plus extra for serving.

Heat butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat and when foam subsides, add the cinnamon stick pieces, the cloves, and the allspice. Cook them until they become very fragrant, about 30-60 seconds, and add the apple pieces. Mix and/or toss to coat them with the butter. After a minute or so over medium-high heat, turn the heat down to low and cook until they are very tender. The amount of time this takes will depend on the variety of apple you used, so pay attention to them. When they're done,turn off the heat, remove the spices, and stir in the raisins. Combine in a large bowl with the bread cubes, and set aside.

Combine milk, eggs, egg yolk, and salt in a small bowl, and whisk to blend. Pour it all over the bread cubes and apple mixture, stirring or tossing to moisten the bread evenly. Butter a one-quart baking dish, and pour in the maple syrup, tilting the dish so that the syrup coats the bottom. Dump the bread mixture into the dish, pressing on it lightly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to allow the bread to soak up the milk-egg mixture.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the pudding until golden brown and slightly puffed, 45 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, and serve with extra maple syrup on the side.


Brave Sir Robin said...


Does the bottom caramelize?

Anne said...

It didn't quite caramelize, but the syrup definitely soaked into the bread a bit and got cooked on the bottom, so it almost got to being caramelized. Either way, it was yummy. :)