Caramelized Sheet-Pan French Toast
Caramelized and crunchy on the outside, soft and custardy on the inside, these almost comically thick sourdough slices taste like the love child of bread pudding and French toast. But instead of the usual brioche or challah, this calls for sturdier bread, preferably a not-too-tangy sourdough or country bread with a crust that’s neither chewy nor thick. You want a round or oblong loaf large enough for big pieces and soft enough to absorb the custard. It’s easy to caramelize the French toast in the oven, but the timing depends on your oven and pan, so check it frequently to ensure that it’s burnished but not burned.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 3large eggs
- 1large egg yolk
- 1cup whole milk
- ½cup heavy cream
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
- ¼teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½cup plus 2 tablespoons/125 grams granulated sugar
- 1tablespoon orange or grapefruit liqueur (optional)
- 2(2-inch-thick) slices sourdough or country bread, halved
- 2tablespoons unsalted butter
- Maple syrup and berries, for serving
Step 1The day before serving, in a medium bowl, combine eggs, egg yolk, milk, cream, salt, vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom, 2 tablespoons/25 grams sugar and the liqueur, if using. Whisk well until thoroughly combined.
Step 2Place the bread in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag or shallow dish that will fit the slices snugly. Pour the egg mixture into the bag or dish to soak in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. If in a bag, lay on a plate and turn the bag over from time to time. If in a dish, cover and flip the slices carefully now and then to ensure even soaking.
Step 3When ready to cook, heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the slices from the bag or dish, letting any excess drip off, and place on a plate. Coat the bread evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup/100 grams sugar.
Step 4Heat a sheet pan or large cast-iron skillet in the oven for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan. Spread it around and add the sugar-coated bread, spacing evenly. Reduce heat to 400 degrees. Cook until the bottoms are evenly burnished and golden brown, 14 to 18 minutes.
Step 5Flip the bread and add the remaining tablespoon butter in slivers around the slices. Cook until the bottoms are nicely browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Turn the slices on the cut ends to caramelize, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately with the syrup and berries.