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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.

Ingredients:

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 

Directions:

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).