Baked Crème Brulee French Toast
Another classic Stone Hill Inn breakfast
Perhaps you have noted among the recent reviews for the Stone Hill Inn, the mention of one breakfast dish that seems to claim particular favor. While many guests have generally praised Linda’s breakfast creations, this devilishly tasty entre is often mentioned by name. Such distinction requires, of course, exceptional taste, but one wonders if the name itself plays a role, for how could you say Baked Crème Brulee French Toast without causing a sly smile to adorn the face? Now a favorite at our Stowe bed and breakfast, especially among returning guests who quickly intercept Linda to request this bewitching meal soon after they arrive! As said in A Real American Breakfast Cookbook: “A true luxury, this is worth every last calorie.”
-1 quart heavy (whipping) cream
-1 vanilla bean
-8 large egg yolks
-¾ cup sugar
-3 – 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
-Real Vermont Maple Syrup (Grade A; medium amber)
-Sliced fresh strawberries or other seasonal fruit
-Softly whipped cream
1 ¾ to 2 lbs Challah or other soft textured egg bread, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
Begin. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap the bottom and sides with foil, making the pieces long enough to fold up and over the top of the pan while baking. A criss-cross pattern of two or more long pieces of foil works best.
Mix. Combine the cream and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over medium heat just long enough to warm the cream – 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture steep until cool, about 15 min. Pour the cream into a mixing bowl, straining out the vanilla bean. Cut the bean open lengthwise and scrape out all the fragrant little black seeds. Stir the vanilla seeds back into the cream.
The Magic. Add the egg yolks and sugar to the cream, then whisk the custard mixture until well combined and uniformly light yellow. Make a layer of bread slices, cutting or tearing slices as needed to fit evenly. Pour about a quarter of the custard mixture evenly over the bread. Repeat with 3 more layers of bread and custard. (Yum!) The bread may rise a bit above the rim of the pan on the last layer. Pour the remaining custard over it slowly so that you get minimal runoff over the pan’s edge. Fold the foil up over the top. Arrange a plate over the foil and weight with a can of beans or other heavy can. Refrig for about one hour allowing the custard to soak through the bread thoroughly.
The Bake. Shortly before the mixture is finished soaking, preheat the oven to 325F. Place the springform pan in a water bath that comes about halfway up the pan’s side. Bake for 1.5 hrs, until firm at the center. Open the foil top and cool the French toast. Fold the foil back over and chill until ready to use.
To the Tables! When you are ready to serve the French toast, preheat the oven to 350F. A Real American Breakfast suggests: “Cut the French toast into 8 wedges – more/fewer as you wish. Arrange the wedges on a baking sheet, then brush each wedge lightly with melted butter. Bake for about 10 minutes until warm in the center and lightly toasted/crisp on the surface. (You don’t actually have the caramel topping of crème brulee, but you get its familiar creamy custard and contrasting crunchy surface.) Now, arrange each wedge on a plate, surround with a pool of maple syrup, and garnish with fruit and whipped cream.” However, we serve individual plates at Stone Hill — one wedge per plate with bacon or sausage and fruit garnish accompanied by a glass container of warmed, Vermont Maple syrup. We add powdered sugar but pass on the whipped cream. Definitely yummy!
How we pitch it. This morning we have Baked Crème Brulee French Toast! We take Challah bread and place into a springform pan and soak the bread with a rich custard mixture. We place all of that into a water bath and cook it for 1 ½ hours. Then we cool it overnight. This morning we cut a 3-inch high wedge and warm until the top is just a bit crispy. We serve with bacon/sausage and warmed, Vermont, Maple syrup! (Let us know if you like it!)