To come up with a French toast recipe that would be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, with rich custardlike flavor, we dried good-quality challah or hearty white sandwich bread in the oven before dunking it in a yolks-only soakin...
- 8large slices hearty white sandwich bread, or good-quality challah (see note)
- 1 1/2cups whole milk, warmed (see note)
- 3large egg yolks
- 3tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons for cooking
- 1/4teaspoon table salt
- 1tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Place bread on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake bread until almost dry throughout (center should remain slightly moist), about 16 minutes, flipping slices halfway through cooking. Remove bread from rack and let cool 5 minutes. Return baking sheet with wire rack to oven and reduce temperature to 200 degrees.
2. Whisk milk, yolks, sugar, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Transfer mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking pan.
3. Soak bread in milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, 20 seconds per side. Using firm slotted spatula, pick up bread slice and allow excess milk mixture to drip off; repeat with remaining slices. Place soaked bread on another baking sheet or platter.
4. Heat ½ tablespoon butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. When foaming subsides, use slotted spatula to transfer 2 slices soaked bread to skillet and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. (If toast is cooking too quickly, reduce temperature slightly.) Transfer to baking sheet in oven. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Repeat cooking with remaining bread, 2 pieces at a time, adding ½ tablespoon of butter for each batch. Serve warm, passing maple syrup separately.