05 May 2012

Yeah Toast!

After I moved out of my dorm, I took stock of my fridge stash at my grandparents’ house and decided to make French toast with the bread odds and ends.  Like the bajillion-and-one vegans who have read Vegan with a Vengeance, I call mine “Fronch Toast,” too.  However, I did not consult Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s book in the writing of this recipe. 

“But what did you use for eggs?!”  I love that question in the same way that I love traffic: I am happy to talk about baking without eggs and dairy since I enjoy cooking, but that everyone asks it whenever I bake something grows old quickly.  Similarly, I’m OK with traffic because it’s part of driving and I like to drive, but the frequency with which I encounter traffic makes it also grow old quickly.  I used pumpkin to replace the volume and consistency of eggs.  I threw in ground flaxseed and chia seeds to one, enhance the coherency of the custard mixture and two, just to mess with people who assume that I/other egg-free bakers substitute flaxseed/chia seeds indiscriminately for eggs in all recipes. 

I mean, to boost the omega-3 content and nutritional profile of this breakfast recipe.  Yeah.

Fronch toast is like bread pudding…but for breakfast.  I dunno about you, but I’ve eaten bread pudding for breakfast; I guess I’m walking up to that line between breakfast and desserts and stomping all over it (in my 1490s, no less).  They’re both bread baked in custard.  I still owe y’all a bread pudding recipe, don’t I?  I made a very good one in January…

Pumpkin Pie Fronch Toast

12 slices bread (I used four slices of Columba di Pasqua, two slices of Mexican Mole Bread, two slices of challah, two scraps of raisin focaccia, and one-eighth Sylvia’s Ozark Cornbread; defrost and toast lightly if using frozen bread)

1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon chia seeds (or use all flax)
1 1/2 to 2 cups non-dairy milk (use the lesser amount if your bread is fragile, as VGF bread can often be; I used unsweetened coconut)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup pecans, broken up (omit if bread has nuts, which the CDP did)

Grease a 9*13” glass baking dish.  Arrange the bread in two layers (cut thick slices in half to facilitate stacking and soaking).  

In a large measuring cup, whisk together all the custard ingredients.  

Pour the custard over the bread, cover the pan with plastic wrap, and let soak in the fridge for two hours. 

I had trouble getting plastic wrap on this pan.  I cursed the plastic wrap and all it stands for (dependence on petroleum products…sigh).  It would behove me to purchase lidded Pyrex containers.

If your bread is fragile, then soak for an hour and check.  If your bread is sturdy, then you can probably soak for more than two hours or overnight. 

I underestimated how sturdy the bread I’ve made was, and since I toasted mine ahead of time, it probably could have withstood more than two hours of soaking.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the plastic wrap and cover the pan with foil.  Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.  Then remove the foil and bake for 15-30 minutes or until the custard has set (it dries out and cracks) and the exposed bread has browned.

Don’t ask me why it’s so brown.  I was a little overzealous with the cloves, but what the hey, I like cloves (I’m Goth, of course I like cloves).

I was impressed with how well it held together.  I figured there was a bunch of food photography trickery and animal products perfectionism behind the Vegetarian Times photograph.  Nay, the pumpkin custard set after a chill overnight.

Nota bene, I baked mine the day before and then chilled it overnight (obviously this needs to be stored in the fridge).  I can’t deal with waiting to bake something for breakfast in the morning, especially after working out.
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