Challah French Toast with Cranberry-Apple Compote
Always choose a firm-textured, flavorful bread for the best French toast. Slices of gold, egg-rich challah are a good choice because they soak up the batter yet retain their shape during cooking. The addition of maple syrup to the batter both flavors it and promotes browning.
For the cranberry-apple compote:
- 2 apples, such as Granny Smith or Baldwin, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 slices fresh ginger, about 1/4 inch thick
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 Tbs. maple syrup
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 8 slices day-old challah, each 3/4 inch thick, with crusts
To make the compote, in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, combine the apples, cranberries, sugar, orange juice and ginger. Cover, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Serve the compote warm, or chill in the refrigerator and serve cold. Or, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt. Pour the batter into a baking dish.
In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt half of the butter and continue to heat until it foams but does not brown.
Place 4 of the bread slices in the egg mixture and let stand for 5 seconds. Turn 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 the French toast to a warmed platter. Repeat with the remaining butter, batter and bread slices.
Serve immediately, accompanied by the cranberry-apple compote. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).