Cooking Adventures #7: Oven-Baked Caramel French Toast
First, read the directions. Second, re-read the directions. Third, read the directions once more for good measure. I should have done that third one. Oh, and the all important “Read directions the night before you attempt the recipe.” I had read the directions for Oven-Baked Caramel French Toast last week when I’d been looking for something to make. I remembered seeing that the directions involved refrigeration over-night, something I haven’t had to deal with since the cheesecake episode. However, when I awoke bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning and looked over my recipe, I realized with horror that I hadn’t refrigerated anything. And I remember thinking last night, “Isn’t there something I’m supposed to do now for this french toast?” Well, we’ll start with that and go from there.
French toast is by far one of my favorite breakfast items. I’ve made it before with eggs, cinnamon, and potato bread and to be honest, it could have used a little more umph! But at least it tasted alright. This time, however, whomever created this sinful sounding recipe decided to make it as complicated as utterly possible. After discovering that I was supposed to have refrigerated it, I decided to just do it without that step. I’m not sure it would have helped with my strange concoction anyway.
The first directions tell you to create the luscious caramel sauce. They indicate that you need to use a 1/2 cup of butter. Now before we move on, I have something to rant about here. Why on earth do all of these recipes say 1/2 cup of butter instead of, like, a stick of butter. Are they trying to make it sound more health conscious? Do they fear that they don’t sound like baking geniuses if they don’t stick to the measurement system? And then why not just use tablespoons which is the measurement actually on the butter package? I suppose 8 tbsp. doesn’t sound very health conscious either though, does it? But it’s not really supposed to be. It’s bread soaked in egg and then baked in a vat of caramel!
How on earth would you play that up to your buddies at the gym or in yoga? I can almost imagine it being like one of those special yogurt commercials where the two friends say they’ve had something boring for breakfast and then the other one says, “Oh, well, I had oven-baked caramel french toast.” The friends look at her with shock slowly bulging in their eyes. The other one giggles and adds, “Oh, but it only had a 1/2 cup of butter.”
*Sighing* Okay, moving on. In addition to the butter, I was to add 1 cup of packed brown sugar. My brown sugar consists of large clumps. No matter how hard I tried to squish them down, they came tumbling out of the bag like boulders down a hill and scattered all over my counter. Next, two tablespoons of corn syrup. I’ve never used corn syrup in my life. But I suspect had I not, the caramel wouldn’t have thickened at all.
I heated this up on the stove top for a few minutes and made sure to stir it constantly, less it burn to the bottom. Then, I grabbed my monstro 9×13 baking dish and coated it with aluminum foil. I’m not stupid. I know that if I get caramel on the bottom of that thing, it’s going to be an absolute nightmare to clean. I poured the caramel in and let it spread out.
Next, the egg batter mixture. The recipe originally calls for 6 eggs. I discovered that I only had 2. I’d used the third for my magical shrinking meatloaf on Tuesday night…
You don’t want to know. Trust me.
Anyway, broke the two eggs into my mixing bowl, then put a half-cup of milk in, 1/3 tsp. of vanilla and nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. I mixed it with a whisk. The directions wanted me to mix it in a blender. Psh. I wasn’t going to get my blender all gross for a little french toast batter. I probably should have used it though because an egg yolk didn’t get mixed in all the way.
I have some wonderful Italian bread that I’ve been gorging on for the last few weeks. I won’t buy anything else now. It’s so good. I sliced up four pieces of that, dipped it in the batter, and cemented them in the caramel which was beginning to harden. Then, I poured the remainder of the batter over the toast. This was where the directions wanted me to refrigerate. I didn’t have any room in my fridge to put the pan anyway. I turned up the oven to 350.
At this point, I checked the directions again because I have the faint suspicion that I’d forgotten something. I looked and I had. A major something. Cinnamon. I growled at myself as I stared at the french toast. I’d already mixed the batter and poured it over the toast. There was no way I could add it in. Then, a thought: sprinkle the cinnamon on top of each piece. Not only will it add flavor, it will look pretty. This would have worked if I’d had something to sprinkle my cinnamon with.
My cinnamon is in a little plastic container because I bought it in New York at a Mennonite food store. I took a spoon and thought if I was reeeeaaaallllly gentle, I could tap a little bit on each. What resulted was completely the opposite. Cinnamon plunked on each piece like dark islands in the middle of an egg batter sea. And I didn’t have sense to stop, so I pretty much engulfed the surface of each piece of toast. I slid it into the oven to bake for 45 minutes.
About twenty minutes in, my apartment reeked of cinnamon. It still does. It’s so strong, I have to wonder if the neighbors can smell it. I’ll bet they can. My cat is hiding. The smell is probably messing with his sinuses. I keep feeling like I need to sneeze.
Out of the oven, the caramel is bubbling and sizzling. With a garnish of powdered sugar and some frozen strawberries, I took my first bite. So sweet. It’s almost sickly sweet. The amount of butter and sugar combined are enough to give the wrong person a heart attack. For minutes, I almost think it’s the sugar content that will do me in. Then, the caramel glues itself to my molars and I realize that’ll be my cause of death: death by stick-to-your-teeth caramel.
Next week, I’ll be switching it up a bit by using my grill pan. Longing for summer and warm weather, I’ll be doing Caribbean Grilled Crab Cakes with a mango salsa next week.
Until then, I’ll be trying to get the bits of caramel out of my teeth with a chisel.