This might sound silly, but whenever I want to make an impression on someone, I serve my tried and true French toast for breakfast or brunch. My Nana used to make it this way, and even my father, almost as much of a non-cook as you can get, mastered making it, too - which says a lot - because usually if cooking required more than pouring milk on something - it was too much for him to handle.
This French toast recipe is simple; but what makes it truly fantastic is one little ingredient - vanilla extract. What makes it even more wonderfully soft, flavorful, and spongy is that you use regular ol' white bread and don't have to hunt around for brioche or some fancy schmancy loaf.
So if you have a few extra seconds on a Sunday, or want to sneak this in before you step out the door any old day, I encourage you to embrace one of the simple things in life, and bring yourself back to the basics with this classic, bumped up a bit!
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 slices white bread
1 Tbsp butter (to melt on griddle)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1. In a shallow baking dish, even a loaf pan would work, crack your 2 eggs.
2. Add 1 Tbsp. of sugar. We're going to sweeten this up a bit!
3. Add 1 tsp of vanilla extract. <-- This, ladies and gentlemen, is the "secret" ingredient. You're adding subtle flavor that your mouth will thank you for.
4. Add 1 tsp. baking powder (You want your French toast to stay fluffy, so this is key.)
5. Now add a pinch of salt. This causes some cooking chemical reactions that help everything come together. Trust me. (Grains of salt absorb moisture from food that it has been placed on, (i.e. bread in this case) to loosen its molecule stability into a semi-hard substance. Basically the pinch of salt allows penetration of the other flavorful ingredients like sugar and vanilla into the bread. Voila! Aren't you glad you didn't ask! ;) )
6. Add 2/3 cup milk. (I add regular whole milk. I've never tried it with soy, almond, low fat or no fat milk here, so do so at your own risk!)
7. Whisk it! Whisk it real good!
8. Get out your griddle and melt the 1 Tbsp. of butter all over it. Use medium heat here. While the griddle is getting hot, let's go make the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Yes, we make it and don't buy it pre-made. It's really simple, silly!
9. Take 2 Tbsp. sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon and put them in a small container with a lid. Close the lid. Get your groove on and shake it up, baby! Voila! - Cinnamon-sugar!
10. Give your bread a bath. Hah! Let me explain. Take one slice of white bread and dip it into the whisked French toast batter. Flip it over in the batter; then place it on the buttered griddle. Repeat this with each slice of bread. You don't want to submerge the slices too long or you will have a mess! I'd say about 7 seconds per side does it. You want to make sure that the mixture penetrates the bread but doesn't cause it to fall apart.
11. Cook the French toast on the first side for about 3 - 4 minutes. You'll know when to flip it when the underside starts to get a bit browned. (See the right side of the photo above for what "done-ness" looks like.) Flip each slice over and then cook it for an additional 2 -3 minutes until the underside matches the top.
12. This French toast will be spongy and soft - not dried out as many of us have experienced in diners and restaurants of our day. Sprinkle each slice with some cinnamon sugar and serve! (Yes, yes you can serve it with the traditional butter and syrup, or even overlap the cinnamon-sugar topping with it, too. However, I recommend trying it with simplicity first - just a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. This French toast is tender and fluffy. The butter and syrup will make it soggy, so it's your choice!)
Serves 2. (Or one very hungry person) I say it serves 2 because I count 2 slices per person, plus serve fruit on the side, with coffee or milk. You can definitely double this recipe.
For variation, you can substitute almond extract instead of vanilla if you prefer. Or go wild with orange extract for a citrus twist.