The concept was good: make sandwiches of sliced bread smeared with cream cheese/butter/almond syrup on one side, cherry jam on the other. Arrange these sandwiches in a pool of beaten eggs, milk, and more almond syrup. Add a dash of brandy. Sprinkle crushed almonds and dried cherries throughout.
See? Nice concept, right? But the final product, while sweet and creamy and gooey (and thereby pretty highly edible, and even tasty) didn’t fulfill my French toast fantasy. For starters, the best French toast uses fluffy white bread, or brioche. I used your everyday wheat sandwich bread. Also, since I baked it in the oven, the side facing up was crusty and brown, while the underside was a bit sodden. I wonder if it would’ve been better if I’d diced the sandwich into cubes, then baked that. Like a French toast bread pudding. The ratio of crusty to soggy bits would’ve been better.
Also, for the egg “custard” and the brown butter milk sauce I poured over the top, I used soy milk, because that’s all I had. I’m not opposed to soy milk (obviously, since I voluntarily brought it into the house), but really, when you’re making French toast, you want real, full-fat dairy. Just like you want fluffy, soft, eggy bread with no pesky wholesome quality.
I grew up eating French toast prepared on a griddle, and as I recall, those slices got browned and crusty on the outside, but retained a tender eggy interior. I think because I used a sandwich method, and the toast was two slices deep, and stuffed with gooey cream cheese, it predisposed the end result toward sogginess.
So what lessons to garner from my French toast foibles?
The lessons are three-fold:
1. Use brioche or fluffy French bread.
2. One layer of bread is best, so the slices can be crusty/tender instead of soggy.
3. Use real milk! Unless you are dairy adverse or allergic, real milk will produce the French toast of your childhood. Unless you were raised by hippies. Then you might want to use soy.