French toast already sounds heavenly to me, but then add on a crème brulee flavoring, and it’s totally something I have to make for breakfast! I love when I stumble upon recipes where I can do the prep work the night before and just bake and reap the delicious reward the next day. The real trick to this recipe is finding good rich bread where you can make thick slices, like brioche. The caramel sauce on top is completely optional; you can always use warm maple syrup as well.
Serving Size: 6
Cook Time: 30 minutes
1 loaf unsliced brioche, or rich bread of your choice
1 1/3 cups whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
1/3 cup cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier or another orange liqueur
1 vanilla bean
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Cut the bread into 1 1/2-inch thick, generous slices; a 9-inch loaf should yield 6 slices. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, cream, eggs, sugar, salt, and liqueur. Halve the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the pulp into a small dish. Whisk vanilla bean with one tablespoon of milk/cream/egg mixture, then whisk in a second tablespoon and a third tablespoon, and then pour the vanilla bean mixture back into the main batter. This avoids having vanilla bean clumps that don’t disperse in your batter.
Arrange bread slices on a rimmed tray that will fit them in one layer, this encourages maximum absorption. Pour the custard over slices. Allow to soak overnight in a fridge.
Preheat oven to 325.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer custard-soaked slices to prepared sheet, arranging them with about an inch of space between each. Bake the slices for 30 to 35 minutes, until a slim knife inserted into the center of a slice does not release any wet custard. Keep warm until ready to serve.
To make the caramel sauce: Melt 2/3 cup sugar in a small, heavy, completely dry saucepan over moderate heat, stirring with a small spoon until fully melted and the color of honey. Working quickly so that the caramel sauce doesn’t harden, spoon the sauce over the French toast slices and serve with fresh berries.