Challah French Toast

“I went to a restaurant that serves ‘Breakfast at any time.’ So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.” ~ Steven Wright

French toast is a weekend tradition in our family that began when I first learned how to bake our Shabbat challah. I’ll admit it– I’m a perfectionist. When I tackled the art of making a beautifully braided challah, it took me countless tries before I was happy with my technique. Those first few weeks of challah making resulted in copious amounts of challah piling up in our kitchen. I gave most of the bread away to friends and family, but we were left with plenty to use up ourselves.

Luckily, my husband makes a mean French toast… and no bread is better suited to French toast than eggy, soft, fluffy challah bread. Challah (especially day old or or slightly stale challah) acts like a sponge, soaking up the egg and milk mixture and saturating itself with goodness. My stepdaughter loves her Abba’s French toast, and she loved it even more when we started using challah. What a treat!

The most basic form of French toast is bread soaked in milk and/or eggs, then fried. This simple cooking concept has been around since antiquity. There is a loosely similar recipe to French toast in the oldest known cookbook, Apicius, an Ancient Roman collection of recipes written in the early 5th century CE. Here is a translation of that recipe:

Aliter Dulcia

Another sweet: break grated Sigilines (wheat bread) and make larger bites. Soak in milk, fry in oil, douse in honey and serve.

~Apicius Book VII, XI-3

As you can see, the basic method for cooking French toast hasn’t changed much throughout the centuries. Eggs didn’t appear in a printed recipe until 1870. The practice of soaking bread and then frying it most likely came about as a way to use up bread that had gone stale to make it more palatable. Where the “French” name came from is not exactly clear– there are many theories, but the actual source of the name is a culinary mystery.

My own version of Challah French Toast is very similar to my husband’s. I make it with homemade challah when we have it. On those weeks when I’m running short on time, we pick up a challah from our local Jewish bakery. We tend to use lowfat milk in our home, which isn’t as rich as whole milk (or the cream that some recipes call for!). To make the milk mixture for the French toast thicker and richer, I like to add a banana, then blend it together with a little flour for fluffiness. A touch of rum or Grand Marnier is optional, but tasty. The resulting French toast is seriously amazing– fluffy, airy, and not at all soggy. It is somewhat lighter than other recipes I’ve seen that drench the bread in cream, sugar, and butter. I much prefer to give the bread a rich flavor without a ton of sweetness and excess fat– this way, people can add as much syrup or butter as they want and adjust the sweetness to taste. It might not be “health food,” exactly, but it makes your soul happy… and we all deserve a little treat once in a while.

Speaking of treats, I think I might make tonight a “brinner” night. Nothing brings a bigger smile to my family’s faces than serving breakfast for dinner, especially when the entree is an aromatic batch of Challah French Toast. Om nom nom…

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS

Non-Stick Skillet

Blender

Kosher Organic Powdered Sugar

Small Mesh Strainer

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Challah French Toast

Ingredients

  • 12 slices challah, sliced 1 inch thick (cut larger slices in half)
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp rum, Kahlua, or Grand Marnier (optional)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

You will also need

  • large skillet (nonstick is best), blender, baking sheet (optional)
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Kosher Key: Dairy
  • This recipe works best with day-old or slightly stale challah bread. If your bread is fresh, you can take some of the moisture out by placing the slices on a baking sheet and putting them in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, flipping the slices once halfway through cooking. This will dry the bread out a bit, which will help it soak up the moisture from the milk and egg mixture. If you don't have time for this step, no worries-- fresh bread will work too, it just won't soak up as much of the egg mixture.
  • In a blender, combine the milk, eggs, flour, banana, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and rum or liqueur (optional). Blend for a few seconds till well mixed.
  • Pour the liquid mixture into a shallow baking dish or pie plate.
  • Soak your slices of challah in the liquid for about 60 seconds, turning once, till the bread is nicely saturated on both sides. This should be done in batches.
  • Heat your skillet over medium and grease it with 2 tbsp butter.
  • Fry the toast in two batches of 6 slices each.
  • Let the slices brown nicely on each side for 3-5 minutes. Keep the heat on medium (or a little lower) to make sure the toast cooks through but doesn't burn.
  • When the first batch of toast is cooked, regrease the pan with remaining 2 tbsp of butter and fry the second batch.
  • Plate the French toast and garnish with powdered sugar, using a mesh strainer to lightly and evenly powder the toast with sugar.
  • Serve Challah French Toast hot with your favorite toppings. Some of our favorites include butter, maple syrup, berries, caramelized bananas or fresh whipped cream.
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Category: Baked Goods and Brunch Fare, Breakfast, Dairy, In the Kitchen, Nut Free, Recipes, Shavuot, Slide Show, Tomato Free, Vegetarian

Comments (48)Post a Comment

  1. Kiri W. says:

    Lovely idea! :) I enjoy challah, so this should be fantastic!

  2. Yum! Challah french toast is my favorite!! This sounds incredible!

  3. Tina@flourtrader says:

    Breakfast for dinner is something I indulge in every once in a while too! One thing I have not indulged in is using homemade bread to make french toast. No doubt it does make a big difference in the taste. Homemade challah is a great choice! Oh and the banana and rum in there makes it even more amazing. Great post Tori!

  4. Lisa Persky Ippolito says:

    Sounds delicious, especially with bread or challah that’s homemade! I’ve been making French toast for years and like you, I don’t like it really sweet. Definitely will try!

  5. Audrey Roberts-Shapiro says:

    sound good.. My grandma made it before. I was little girls

  6. Challah makes the best french toast hands down! This sounds lovely!

  7. Claudia says:

    My favorite bread for French Toast – bar none. Could slide it off the monitor and have it now.

  8. Oh I dream about this. My goal for this year is to make a braided challah and then make french toast!

  9. Marilyn says:

    I always make French Toast with challah. Raisin challah is even better that the plain. I love the idea of blending in a banana. Will try it tomorrow morning. I also melt no sugar added jam or jelly to pour over the finished product instead of syrup.

  10. Ann says:

    The use of banana in the french toast mix is nothing short of brilliant! I love it! ….and the quote at the top is PERFECT! (I’d like YOUR French toast – we’ll have breakfast with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello – sound good?)

  11. Erynn Marie says:

    Oh man, I just made French toast with homemade Challah last week, and it IS amazing. I also used a stale loaf in a raspberry bread pudding recipe which was equally spectacular. Gotta go make more Challah!

  12. I. LOVE. FRENCH TOAST!
    And, you’re right… there’s nothing better than French Toast made with Challah. I don’t even need syrup… just a snowfall of powdered sugar.
    We just had a lesson on yeast bread (including challah) in class today and I am so excited to start making some! YUM!

  13. Cindy says:

    It looks so good, I wanna have it for breakfast…and afternoon snack!

  14. Ars Vivendi says:

    The most most scented breakfast meal I have ever eat! :))

  15. Leah says:

    This looks amazing! And since I have a full challah loaf sitting in front of me, I think I’ll make this for breakfast tomorrow.

  16. Brian says:

    we’ll be in paris on holiday just after purim.. what a great idea for a brinner, a real french shiksa toast.. a toat to you & that really interesting idea of adding a banana to the mixture

  17. Geraldine Watson says:

    Sounds gorgeous. Love challah and love French toast, so the combination should be spectacular. I’ll make that as an anniversary surprise next Shabbos as it is our 24th wedding anniversary. Thank you for posting this recipe.

  18. Liz says:

    Oh, I adore French toast made with challah…and the addition of Kahlua is perfect!!! YUM.

  19. Kita says:

    I am convinced challah makes for a perfect Frech toast. Its heavenly. And with liquor? Ooooh now we are talking.

  20. mdenise says:

    Oohlala. That is the most mouthwatering French toast I have ever seen. I didn’t know Kahlua and French toast go together. I shall try this soon…maybe tomorrow. LOL.

  21. kristy says:

    We’re doing a quest for the best French toast this year. This one looks fantastic! I can’t wait to try it. :)

  22. Jolene says:

    How interesting to blend banana in with the eggs… must give it a try sometime! Thanks!

  23. marlene says:

    Adding a tsp or so of real vanilla extract does wonders! So does a small amount of nutmeg! Also, I soak the challah in the egg mixture the night before….the next morning I pan fry it and it is delicious and almost custard like even when well cooked. enjoy!

  24. alan says:

    challah is my favorite bread with raisins now french toast with this recipe will be a real treat

  25. Scotty'sMomNB says:

    Just had challah French toast for breakfast. I make a slightly more savory version, with salt, pepper & a good pinch of nutmeg in the egg/skim milk mixture, then sprinkle the cooked side with a little cinnamon while the second side is cooking. Big raves on this recipe! But I can’t wait to make it again with a little liquor added–it sounds scrumptious. Maybe Chambord since we love raspberry–mmmm :)

  26. Rae Gordon says:

    I love the banana idea, but I have also mixed egg/milk/vanilla and cinnamon into the mixture as well as added a little fruit yogurt. Challah is the best, but if not available, potato bread can also serve the purpose.

  27. Carmen says:

    Oh my goodness, that looks delicious!! Sadly, I have never been able to find challah in my area. I will have to look again!

  28. YUM YUM YUMMY! This recipe was absolutely yummy! I ate it with raspberry sauce and used Agave instead of brown sugar. Also used honey butter to cook the french toast in! My family is in for a wonderful treat this holiday season! I froze the excess for another time as well!

  29. Shiksainseattle says:

    Umm… My two girls and I just rocked “Breakfast for Dinner” – this is the BEST French Toast Recipe ever!

    Crispy, light & fluffy custard – everything French Toast should be!

    You converted my husband into a French Toast lover ;o)

    -Sis

  30. Shirley says:

    Just when my kids thought french toast couldn’t get any better! I’ll be surprising them with this for Sunday brunch very soon. :)

  31. panikopo says:

    Tried it for the first time for a brunch of 10 women! They devoured it and it was so easy to make. Everyone adjusted the toast to their level of sweetness and it was perfect in texture and not soggy at all. Love the extra banana and rum in the mix. I will try it again for my hubby tomorrow! THank you for this amazing recipe!

  32. Kelly says:

    Can the mixture for this recipe be refrigerated overnight to cut prep time in half? I emailed, but then noticed you said commenting responses might be faster! Either way…this recipe is worth the wait!

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Kelly– yes, but the mixture will likely settle overnight, so you may need to whisk it to refresh in the morning. Also, the banana may oxidize a bit and give the mixture a brownish color– but don’t worry, it will be masked by the cooking process when he toast turns golden brown. I wouldn’t keep it in the fridge for longer than 24 hours, but overnight should be fine. Enjoy!

  33. Troy Fondaw says:

    The Shiksa,
    This was our first time making this recipe for desert after dinner and my princesses absolutely devoured it. I had to restrain them from finishing the pieces to be able to leave a couple for each of them for breakfast. We had a guest to visit and she loved the recipe! Thank you soooo much for sharing. Tera Nova tests are coming up for my daughters in their schools. My 1st born princess asked me to make more of these for breakfest during the weeklong testings! We love it!!

  34. Sharon says:

    I have become very addicted to your blog! My husband and I lived in Israel for a little while and would love to go back and live there with our children. Right now we live in Russia. Your blog brings some sanity back into my life when we are stuck inside due to cold weather. Thanks so much for teaching me to make Challah. Every time I make it we have to have Challah French Toast as well. Thanks again! It is delicious! Blessings!

  35. Stephanie says:

    I stumbled upon your blog today and tried out this recipe. My husband and I both enjoyed the Challah French Toast. I really like the addition of the banana in the mixture. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to trying more of your recipes!

  36. Amy says:

    This was the best French toast I’ve ever had!

  37. Jennie says:

    Hi Tori,
    I am planning on trying this for Valentine’s day brunch, but I have a few questions about the Challah. I have made your regular Challah once before and it turned out beautifully. I was thinking of adding golden raisins and potentially cinnamon this time to better cater the bread toward french toast. Have you tried something similar? If so, did it turn out too sweet?

    Also, I am planning on making the Challah today (Thurs. night) and the french toast on Sat. morning. Do you think this will be enough time for it to get to the correct level of stale. Or should I pre-cut slices and leave them out overnight?

    Thanks so much for all the recipes and baking advice!

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Jennie, sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, I spent Valentine’s week battling the flu. :( For future reference, adding the raisins and cinnamon to the dough shouldn’t be a problem; it won’t sweeten the dough beyond the natural sweetness of the raisins themselves. You don’t need to wait for bread to get stale for French toast– just toast the bread slices lightly in the oven at 350 degrees on a baking sheet for 5-10 minutes till it’s dry and very lightly toasted. It will soak up the ingredients beautifully.

  38. sandy says:

    subscribe me

  39. Chris says:

    I’m usually not a fan of french toast and neither is my wife, but WOW! I made this a few weeks ago and we ate the whole thing between the two of us. That batter plus the challah bread is amazing. Making it again tomorrow actually love this. Will be back looking at other recipes on your blog.

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