Sunday, December 19, 2010

Challah!



Yesterday, I made challah for the first time. It turned out to be this gorgeous, soft, sweet bread.

I can't recommend Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day enough. Every single recipe I've tried has turned out extraordinary. I use his his Neopolitan pizza crust almost every other week.

This challah turned into French Toast this morning. The recipe I used was Pecan Rum French Toast from Cook's Illustrated. It was so good that Garison took one bite and said, "oh my wow." I can't really imagine a better-tasting breakfast. I read a book on French cooking yesterday and they said that the French do not eat French toast for breakfast, that it's dessert. I think that makes a lot of sense. This was almost like a coffee cake in flavor.

Pecan Rum French Toast

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cups pecans
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 large slices cinnamon-raisin bread (Any bread will work, really. I used challah. Bread should be dried out, either cooked at 300 degrees for about 16 minutes or left out overnight.)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed (I used 2% milk)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons for cooking
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons dark rum
  • Maple syrup

Instructions
1. Process 1/2 cup pecans, 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in food processor until coarsely ground.

2. Whisk milk, yolks, sugar, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt, vanilla, and rum in large bowl until well blended. Transfer to a 13- by 9-inch baking pan.

3. Soak bread in milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, about 20 seconds per side. Use a firm, slotted spatula to pick up the bread slices and allow excess milk to drip. Place soaked bread on another baking sheet or plate. Sprinkle each slice of soaked bread with 1 tablespoon nut mixture.

4. Heat ½ tablespoon butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. When foaming subsides, transfer 2 slices soaked bread to skillet, nut mixture side down. Cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer.

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