I’m not 100% happy with the name of this recipe. Caramelized Cinnamon Toast might be better, but calling it French Toast is more descriptive of how it’s made. I would say this is a combination of French Toast and Cinnamon Toast, but Caramelized Cinnamon French Toast is way too long, so we’ll just keep it simple. Everyone knows what French Toast is, right?
I’ve never been a big fan of French Toast. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never disliked it, but in the world of breakfast foods, I’d usually rather have pancakes or pastries. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever even made it at home before. I remember my mom used to make it when I was a kid (though not as much as pancakes or waffles) and of course I’ve had it at restaurants, but I guess it’s never occurred to me to actually make French Toast myself. But Cinnamon Toast? Well, that is one of my most favorite things in the whole world. I make that all the time. So much so that I have a bottle just to store my own cinnamon-sugar mix. And when I saw this recipe in which you sprinkle the egg/milk soaked bread with sugar right before you cook it, my only thought was: It needs cinnamon! So that’s what this is, French Toast sprinkled (covered? heaped?) with cinnamon-sugar and seared until the sugar caramelizes and hardens a little to give the bread a sweet, slightly crunchy coating on the outside. It’s cinnamon toast taken to the next level and it’s awesome.
Suffice it to say, this is my new favorite breakfast and I’d choose it over pancakes or pastries any day. I love pancakes and waffles, but you can never just make one or two of them, you know? You have to stand around and make a whole batch and by the time you’re done, half of them are cold. So I like that this is really easy and fast and I can make a couple of slices and eat them right away, just like cinnamon toast.
I usually have syrup with my French Toast, but this really doesn’t need it since it has the sugar coating. Have I tried it with a glug of maple syrup? Of course! It’s delicious. But can you say sugar high? Be sure to eat it on the weekend so you can take a nap when you come down.
Since this recipe is so simple and versatile you can use whatever bread you like. I’ve tried it with sourdough, white and whole wheat bread and it was good each time. But then I tried it with some of my own Cinnamon-Raisin Bread and I ate 5 freaking slices because I just couldn’t stop myself. It’s a perfect compliment to this recipe!
This raisin bread is one of my BBA Challenge breads (which, yes, I still plan on finishing, but I’m going a lot slower than when I started). I’ve adapted it slightly from the original recipe, mainly adding some whole wheat flour to make it a bit more healthy but it’s not enough to change the taste of the bread. Of course, you can buy raisin bread, but it tends to be sliced pretty thin and this French Toast works much better with thicker slices of bread. Plus, raisin bread is one of the easiest breads to make. Even if you’ve never made bread before, it’s a great one to start on because it doesn’t take long (especially if you have a mixer to do most of the “kneading” for you) and it’s pretty much fool-proof.
Caramelized French Toast
Breakfast | Servings: 4
Prep time: 10 min | Cook time: 5 min | Total time: 15 min
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk, half-and-half or cream (I usually do half skim milk, half heavy cream)
- Dash of salt
- 8 slices of bread (raisin bread recipe below)
- In a small bowl mix together sugar and cinnamon, set aside with a spoon.
- Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat (I set my griddle to 350 degrees).
- In a broad bowl (I used a pie pan) beat the eggs lightly and stir in the milk and salt. Set an empty plate beside it.
- Add about teaspoon of butter to skillet and spread around as it melts.
- Quickly dip each side of bread into the egg mixture (you don’t want it too soggy) and then place on the empty plate. Add a heaping spoonful of cinnamon-sugar and spread around until the surface of the bread is completely covered (add more cinnamon-sugar as needed), flip over and repeat on the other side. Place on the skillet. Repeat with remaining slices of bread until the skillet/griddle is full.
- Cook for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until each side is nicely browned and the sugar mixture has melted and hardened into slightly crispy coating.
Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread
Breakfast, Bread | Servings: Two 1 1/2 lb. loaves
Prep time: 40 min | Cook time: 40 min | Total time: 4 hour 20 min
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 4 tsp. sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. instant yeast
- 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 2 tbsp. butter, melted
- 1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk, room temperature
- 3/4 cup water, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups raisins, rinsed, drained and patted dry
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- In a large bowl or your electric mixer bowl, mix together flours, sugar, salt, yeast and cinnamon.
- Add egg, butter, buttermilk and water. Stir with a large spoon or on low speed with the paddle attachment of your mixer until everything comes together in a ball. If you’re using a mixer you’ll know it’s ready if the dough stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. If it seems too sticky or too dry add a little more flour or water.
- If you are using a mixer, switch to the dough hook. Mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes. If you don’t have a mixer or want to do all the kneading by hand skip to the next step.
Sprinkle a work surface with flour and transfer the dough over to it. Knead for about 1-2 minutes if you just used the dough hook or 8-10 minutes if not. You’ll most likely need to add more bread flour to the dough as you are kneading to keep it from being sticky. The end result should be dough that is soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. (See this post for the difference between the two.)
To test whether the dough is ready, cut off a golf ball-sized piece and use your fingers to stretch it into a very thin sheet which looks almost translucent when held up to the light. If it won’t stretch and/or tears too easily, then you need to keep kneading until the dough passes the windowpane test. It’s also helpful to have an instant read thermometer because the dough should be ready when it’s between 77-81 degrees.
- Flatten the dough out with your hands and spread a handful of raisins on top, pressing them into the dough. Fold the dough in half and spread some more raisins on top of that. Keep folding and flattening the dough until you have incorporated all the raisins, then knead lightly for a minute or two until they are evenly mixed throughout the dough.
- Place the dough inside a large bowl that has been sprayed lightly with cooking spray or oil. Roll the dough around to lightly coat it in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 2 hours at room temperature or until the dough doubles in size.
- Meanwhile, mix together sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
- When the dough has risen, remove from bowl and divide into 2 equal pieces (it helps to have a kitchen scale, if you’re not good at eyeing it). Roll each piece out into a 5 inch by 8 inch rectangle that is about 1/3 inch thick. Sprinkle half the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top.
Starting at the short end, roll up the dough, pinching the crease down after each rotation to strengthen the surface tension. The loaf will spread out as you roll it up. Pinch the final seam closed with your thumbs and rock gently to even it out. Place in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 in. loaf pan, the ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
- Mist the tops lightly with cooking spray or spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours or until the dough has nearly doubled in size and crests above the top of the pan. My house tends to be a bit cold (I like it that way), so to help the dough rise, I turn my oven on a low temperature for about a minute, then turn it off and open the door for about 30 seconds. While the oven is still slightly warm (but still off), I place the pans inside, close the door and let the dough proof in there.
- Remove the pans from your oven if you proofed them in there and preheat to 350 degrees (F), with the oven rack in the middle. Place the loaf pans on a large sheet pan, making sure they are not touching each other.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan 180 degrees and continue baking for 15-25 minutes. The loaves should be golden brown on top and lightly golden on the sides. It should register 190 degrees in the center.
- Immediately remove from pans (you can also check the bottom of each loaf, which should make a hollow sound when thumped) and cool on a rack for at least 1-2 hours before slicing.
Once completely cooled, you can wrap carefully and freeze one or both of the loaves for later.