Cinnamon Sugar-crusted Cream Cheese-stuffed French Toast

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There’s french toast, and then there’s cinnamon sugar-crusted french toast with a cream cheese filling and warmed berries. It’s your pick.

There are no extravagant steps, not too much brain energy involved. You dip good bread in luscious custard (or do it the eggless/vegan way), dip that in cinnamon sugar, fry in a pan.

Then you spread some cream cheese frosting (not the bought stuff, no no) on one slice, layer with warmed berries, layer on the other slice.

Then you ooh and aah for a bit, drizzle with maple syrup, and then EAT. Cream cheese and berries ooze out the sides, berries give up their juice.

That right there is the best morning.

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The cinnamon sugar crust is key. It’s what takes this to a whole new level, and adds a luxurious sweetness so you don’t need as much maple syrup later on.

Sweetened cream cheese may be substituted for yoghurt here, but I find the cream cheese adds proper oomph, volume, and just the right amount of tang. Together with the warm berries, this makes the perfect french toast sandwich.

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Cinnamon Sugar-crusted Cream Cheese-stuffed French Toast (makes 1 sandwich)

Ingredients

For the french toast:

2 slices fresh challah/white sandwich bread/sourdough, around 3/4-1 inch thick (I keep mine in an airtight bag in the freezer, and let thaw for a half hour before I need or want to use it)

1 egg

60ml (1/4 cup) milk

1 heaping tbsp ground cinnamon + 6 tbsp white sugar

splash vanilla extract

butter for frying

 

For the cream cheese filling and warmed berries:

2 heaping tbsp cream cheese spread

1 tsp milk

1 tbsp icing sugar

handful of berries of choice (I used blueberries and raspberries)

 

Directions

In a shallow bowl, mix together the cinnamon and sugar and set aside. Preheat your pan on medium-high heat. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and vanilla extract. Once pan is hot, add a knob of butter and listen out for a sizzle; if the butter browns too quickly turn down the heat a little.

Take one challah slice and dip in the eggy batter for 10 seconds. Flip and do the same for the other side. It should be soaked through but not falling apart. Lift up the slice and let excess batter drip down, then immediately lay in the bowl containing the cinnamon sugar. Turn the slice and coat the other side.

Do the same with the second slice, then place both slices in the hot pan for frying. Wait 20 seconds for the first sides to fry, then flip. Wait a little longer, around 30-40 seconds, if you prefer a less soggy middle for your french toast (I like mine pretty soggy and saturated). The second side will take shorter to cook, so remove once you like the doneness.

In the same pan, add a little more butter, then plop in your berries. Let cook and sizzle– they will yield their juices after around 4-5 minutes of cooking and become warm and soft. Mix together the ingredients for the cream cheese filling.

Spoon the cream cheese and berries onto one slice of bread and then layer on the second slice. Finally, drizzle everything with good maple syrup.

Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast in a Bowl

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Nothing like listening to Dvorak’s Violin Concerto in A Minor and eating something almost as enlightening. Like my new take on one of my absolute favourite things to eat in the morning– french toast. But not just french toast cooked up and served as two or three slabs of bread on a plate. I agree such a put-together is beautiful, but you know what makes it even more special?

Cutting it up, putting it into a bowl, and dousing everything in cold (or hot, it’s your breakfast game after all) milk.

Then topping it with bits of cheesecake, strawberries, and honey or maple syrup.

That’s all you have to do, and I know one picture isn’t enough to justify this process; I was much too excited after pouring that milk. And then I got so excited over breakfast I knew I had to dedicate a (rather late) blogpost just spilling the beans. I have written a previous post on the delight of eating french toast out of a bowl here, and I think if you haven’t already, now’s the time to heat up your pan for something a little different.

This time I used my favourite eggless french toast recipe for the base, and you can even make it vegan by substituting the normal milk I like to use with almond, rice or any other vegan substitute. The eggless recipe is actually my favourite to use for my french toast bowls, because the final consistency is almost chewy and caramelised on the outside, with the softest, fluffiest, milk-saturated middle. It’s what makes this whole thing so good.

Totally delicious, completely customisable.

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Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast in a Bowl (serves 1)

Directions

Make french toast as you normally would, or try this one if you haven’t already. I like to use 2 slices of soft whole grain/ brioche/ classic white bloomers for this.

Cut your french toast into small chunks, put into a bowl, top with crumbled bits of cheesecake (homemade/ store-bought), fresh strawberries and whatever toppings you like (I used nut butter, honey, and some chopped nuts and chocolate). Douse in hot or cold milk. I like to let the toast soak in the milk and sweetener for a while before digging right in.

London Eats: Friends Of Ours

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It’s official– my love and passion for french toast overrides that for so many other things in my life. It’s just not on. But at the same time, some flaws should be embraced. Hence my decision to do a conclusive write-up some time in the future on my favourite french toast places here in London!

Starting with the lovely little Friends of Ours. Goodness have I missed writing about these café adventures. Judgement will be based on:

  • that lovely saturation in the middle of sufficiently-thick bread slices
  • browning
  • usage and appropriateness of toppings

Though I won’t be able to write about every single place I try, the conclusive write-up will comprise my main favourites, so keep an eye out for that.

There’s something special about making a gala out of little trips like this. Yeah, there’s something special about making a very big deal out of your favourite food in the entire world.

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This little hideaway is adorable. Unpretentious, cosy, with service that can’t be beat. Fresh pastries and sandwiches adorn the counter, and though I’m no proper coffee expert, my affinity for long blacks has earned me some sort of coffee brew intelligent quotient, and the cuppa that greeted me seriously hit the spot.

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Organic brioche french toast, roasted pears with rosemary and vanilla, clotted cream and shortbread crumble– £8.50

Long black– £2.20

What. A pretty picture. A slice of perfect thickness. The eggy, nicely-browned crust and exterior made me envision the battered slice hitting the heat of the pan, cooking thoroughly and quickly. Would have preferred a slightly more saturated and moist middle, but that’s really only because I like the texture to reach the point whereby there’s no problem flaking off bites with a fork. Almost ‘raw’, one could say. The roasted pear was tender and flavourful, offering sweet tangy notes to the bready base. So much more impressive than that served at another café I visited recently (here was hardly any on the plate and what was served was so cooked down that ‘saccharine’ would be a severe understatement as a description).

That, the shortbread crumble and clotted cream are what made every bite truly indulgent. Creamy, crunchy, soft. The toast itself provided a good medium for all the flavours to work together well. If anything, a more citrusy option or additive to this french toast would propel it to greater heights. Looked at the menu again, and cursed myself for only having one stomach. I’m dying to return just for that coconut rice pudding (how good does that sound?) or eggs. More coffee, of course.

Made my way to Shoreditch, freezing and hopeful. What I had warmed my stomach and heart. Hurry down to try their gorgeous brunch fare and coffee, armed with a good read. The solo, well-spaced tables and chairs make it easy to lose yourself in your thoughts or focus on some work.

Friends of Ours

61 Pitfield St, London N1 6BU

Mon-Fri: 8am-5pm

Sat: 9am-5pm

Sun: 10am-5pm

Black Sesame French Toast (with a twist)

If there’s one sort of breakfast I have to live off for the rest of my life, as long or short as it may be, it’s french toast.

And yes I like the good old classic stuff, whereby all you have to do is whip together eggs and milk and cinnamon and voila, you get a comforting, nourishing plate, eggy and soft and saturated, and now I use the word ‘and’ too much. Well. One of my personal favourite french toast recipes is actually eggless, and I implore you to check it out here.

But twists are welcome. Despite the familiarity of routine, twists and little leaps off of a classic theme are necessary to uphold the graciousness of the central perk. In this case, that perk is normal french toast. I love normality in that sense, all tried and true. But the addition of black sesame here, the little flick of the pen at the end of story, is the enhancement factor, serving not to distract, but uplift.

I’m a flexible eater, but I’m also the sort who thinks that if you’re going to enjoy something, you must enjoy it well. This might not be to everyone’s taste, but I do love dousing my french toast in whole milk, well accompanied by frigid coffee, because the sogginess factor makes my heart the same consistency. It all sounds a bit absurd, I know. But do what you do best, right? Adjust to taste. It’s all delicious in the end, anyway.

Black Sesame French Toast (For 1)

Directions

In a shallow bowl, whisk together one egg, a dash of cinnamon, a large splash of milk (whatever sort you prefer, I used whole) and a tablespoon of honey. Into another bowl or plate, sift 2 heaping tablespoons of black sesame powder.

Take 2 slices of sourdough/ brioche/ baguette and soak each side in your eggy batter for 10-20 seconds. Whilst waiting, preheat your pan to medium heat, and ready some butter. Once the pan is hot, butter it, making sure you hear a good sizzle upon first contact. Cook your french toast as you usually would, around 2 minutes on the first side and a little less on the second, just so it’s not rendered dry. You want a fair bit of eggy saturation in the middle (yes, even if you like drowning your french toast in milk like moi).

Once your french toast is cooked, generously slather the tops with the black sesame powder, which will go moist and a bit sticky upon contact with the heat and moisture from the toast.

*variation: To serve, place the toast on a plate, top with almond butter, chopped strawberries, a drizzle of coconut cream and, if you wish, coconut chips. The black sesame with fruit and coconut here is a divine combination!

Banana and Raspberry Stuffed Buttermilk French Toast

Lately I’ve been intrigued by a few things.

– Plexin D1, a gene which plays a part in body fat distribution. Apple? Pear? Somewhere in between? This may be the reason why. Scientists carried out their experiments on zebrafish, and those genetically engineered to lack the gene showed less abdominal (visceral) fat. Interestingly enough, humans with Type 2 diabetes have more Plexin D1. The beer belly syndrome is a highly underrated danger; those with more of a paunch have a much higher chance of contracting heart disease. Evidently, the implications of the exercise are pretty mammoth. The experiments were carried out on zebrafish because they have transparent bodies. Imagine being a zebrafish! That’s really taking the phrase ‘I can see right through you’ to the next level.

– The burning sensation you get when you hold a mouthful of coke on your tongue

– The Myers-Briggs test (ENTJ, anyone?)

– The fact that one can turn anything, anything into French toast.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI had the urge to make my favourite breakfast dish ever yesterday morning because my dear mom always returns home on the weekends after running errands with bags full of junk snacks (I’ll pass on a few) and fresh bread from the bakery (yes!!!). I was actually planning to make my own loaf, with some exotic fillings or less-touched flour type (hey, spelt or rye), but the chocolate swirl brioche was just screaming to be dunked in a lush, eggy bath, after being stuffed silly with fruit, and in the case of this particular morning, an almond butter cream. More on that a little later. It’s a pity I forgot to take a shot of this cream, but I guess imagination can right a wrong.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetFruit combinations are always a problem for me; my relationship with these mature divine ovaries is like that between monkeys and bananas– any type and degree of ripeness works fine with me. I go with flow, peel a few random things and throw em together. It’s a fruity party here all the time. Yesterday morning, I grabbed half a banana and fresh raspberries which I bought to use a little later in the week, ignoring my initial plan to mix a bit of blue and gold, for I did acknowledge the existence of some frozen berries and mangoes the day before. Sometimes, things demand spontaneity. The sweet banana of medium ripeness played up the pleasant sourness of fresh raspberry, the aftertaste of flowers bursting like the dawn of summer in my mouth. The almond cream is definitely optional, but I love how it adds a earthy flavour component whilst binding the fruit and stodge together nicely on the inside, especially if the batter only penetrated the surface of day(s)-old bread. You get a wonderful, slightly gooey plate of eggy bread, moist and saturated all the way through.

Banana and Raspberry Stuffed Buttermilk French Toast (serves 1)

Ingredients

half a banana, sliced into coins

handful of fresh or frozen raspberries

one egg

knob of butter

splash of buttermilk and one tsp vanilla extract

1 thick slice (2 inches is perfect) of brioche/challah, can be 1-2 days old

*almond butter cream: mix together a tablespoon of almond butter and a teaspoon of almond milk (or any milk, really)

*optional

Preheat your pan on a medium heat, and ready some butter. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and vanilla with a fork. Take your bread and, with a knife, cut a deep horizontal pocket into one of the the 4 2-inch sides of the french toast. You could cut your slice horizontally all the way so you end up with 2 thinner slices of bread to sandwich the filling, but I like the cute idea of a pocket holding everything in nicely together. Once you’ve cut a pocket, stuff the inside with the almond butter cream, then fill to the brim with the banana coins (you can mash the banana, if you wish, but I prefer cutting/biting into the gooey chunks) and raspberries.

Butter the pan and let it sizzle. The pan should be hot when you hold your hand a few inches above the surface of the pan. Dunk one side of the bread into the buttermilk-egg mixture and let the bread soak for 5-10 seconds. Flip and let the other side soak for a little while less. Lift the slice and let any excess batter drip off. Lay the slice on the hot pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. You should hear a sizzle once it hits the pan, else it’s not hot enough. Fret not. Simply wait a little while longer and take a peek at the doneness with your spatula. Once browned, flip and hear the sizzle once more.

To serve, place on a plate (may cut in half however which way you want, and this step is highly recommended for visual pleasure– watch that goo!), then top with whipped cream and maple syrup or honey.