When I was growing up in Toronto we used to be members at a place called The Granite Club. For our athletically inclined family it was our home away from home. It’s been 20+ years, yet three memories are still with me today – of my tennis coach; a horrible haircut; and the cafeteria cinnamon toast. I hadn’t eaten this for ages and had the sudden urge to do my own version, updated with a few modern tweaks.
Make it the night before and it takes about the same time to reheat it as an EGGO waffle.
1 stick (4 oz) of good quality salted butter (if using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt)
¼ cup good quality cinnamon
¼ superfine sugar
4 thick slices of a good quality country white bread, Pullman, or Pain de Mie
In a medium bowl, mix the butter with the cinnamon and the sugar.
Spread 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon butter on each of the 4 slices of bread and lay them in a medium casserole dish- doesn’t matter how as you’ll be breaking them up and re-inserting them at a later point.
You’ll have leftover butter at this point, which will keep in your fridge for a few weeks and is great for making cinnamon toast (just remember to soften beforehand).
Chill the dish for a few hours, overnight, even for up to a few days. Stale bread is the key for this recipe.
Once the bread has chilled, remove and set to the side while you butter the inside of the casserole dish.
Once buttered, break up the chunks of bread and lay them inside the dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, half ‘n half and vanilla.
Pour over the bread chunks, and with a large piece of Saran Wrap, cover and compress it a little with your hands.
To help with the absorption, put something heavy on top of the Saran Wrap – I used a smaller casserole dish but you could also use soup cans.
Let the mixture absorb into the bread for 20 -30 mins.
While the mixture is absorbing, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the weights, and the Saran Wrap, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 30 mins or until custard has set.
Remove the French Toast from the oven, scoop onto individual plates and top with maple syrup and/or crème fraiche. (Vermont Creamery makes a vanilla crème fraiche that’s perfect here).
Notes: Although this may look like a long and complicated process, the active time is short and can be spread out over multiple days making it a cinch to pull together.
French toast can be baked ahead of time, covered and reheated the next day to save time in the morning.