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Brioche French Toast with Fresh Figs

Sweet, dark purple Mission figs are a favorite for this dish, but golden Calimyrnas, yellow-green Kadotas and green Adriatics are also good choices, or use a mix of varieties. Choose figs that are soft to the touch but not bruised and use them promptly, as they spoil quickly. If you have brioche left over from making bread pudding (see related recipe at left), this is a great way to use it. Serve the French toast with orange blossom maple syrup or regular maple syrup.

Ingredients:

For the orange blossom maple syrup (optional): 

  • 1 cup maple syrup 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. orange flower water 
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
  •   

For the batter: 

  • 2 eggs 
  • 3/4 cup milk 
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice 
  • 1 Tbs. sugar 
  • 2 tsp. grated orange zest 
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1/8 tsp. salt 
  •   
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter  
  • 8 slices day-old brioche, 3/4 inch thick, with crusts 
  • 8 fresh figs such as Mission, quartered 

Directions:

To make the orange blossom maple syrup, in a small saucepan over low heat, warm the maple syrup. Pour into a small bowl or pitcher and stir in the orange flower water and vanilla until well blended. Serve warm. Or, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Warm over low heat before serving.

To make the batter, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, orange juice, sugar, orange zest, vanilla and salt. Pour the batter into a baking dish.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt 1 tsp. of the butter and continue to heat until it foams but does not brown.

Place 4 of the bread slices in the batter and let stand for 5 seconds. Turn the slices over and let stand for 5 seconds more. Using tongs, lift the slices from the batter, letting any excess drip back into the baking dish, and transfer to the hot pan. Cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook until browned on the other side, about 2 minutes more. Using clean tongs, transfer to a warmed platter. Repeat with the remaining butter, batter and bread slices.

Divide the French toast among individual plates and arrange the figs on top and alongside. Serve immediately. Pass the syrup at the table. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).