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Baked French Toast

We observe Shabbat as much as humanly possible in this house. It is our favorite time to gather family and friends around our table. We dine well. Drink wine. Thank G-d and enjoy the bounty he has bestowed on the fertile Coachella Willamette Valley. No one goes hungry.

But it is the over-night house guests who really reap the glory of our Shabbat meal - French Toast made with left-over Challah - and Lisa taught me to bake the browned French Toast for a bit in the oven so it "puffs up" to a rich fluffy syrup-ready sponge.

Challah is sliced (one-inch-thick) and placed in a large flat baking dish. Push the slices together to fit as many pieces as possible.

Next a batter of eggs, half & half - and spices - is whisked together and poured over the sliced bread. The soaking bread is refrigerated over-night - and all the batter has been absorbed by the bread.

The next morning, the batter-laden toasts are fried in oil and then placed in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Yes, it seems to be three steps, but while the French Toast is puffing in the oven, you can fry the (turkey) bacon or sausage in the same pan you used to brown the toast while sipping on a mimosa. Perfect!

Eight 1-inch-thick slices Challah (or brioche or French bread)
2 eggs, plus 2 egg whites
1 cup half & half
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼teaspoon ground nutmeg
Vegetable oil for frying
Butter & maple syrup for serving

Overnight: Place the sliced Challah, in one layer, in a 9"x13" baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and egg whites until smooth and frothy. Add the half and half, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk together and pour evenly over the sliced bread. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning: Heat the oven to 350° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (if desired). Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat the bottom with vegetable oil. Fry the batter-soaked Challah, in batches, for several minutes on each side, until nicely browned. As the pieces finish browning, remove to the prepared baking sheet. When all the bread slices have browned, place the baking sheet in the oven for 15-20 minutes, then serve the French Toast with butter and pure maple syrup. Serves 4.

Leftover French Toast can be refrigerated (or frozen) and reheated in a toaster!

Until my next update, I remain, your buttery correspondent.