Cook the Book: JB’s French Toast

Chapter 2: Toasts, French Toasts, and Breakfast Sandwiches – Recipe: J.B.’s French Toast

With a name like James Beard associated with this French toast, how could I not try it? While this chapter is chock full of random things, like sausage and applesauce toast, Welsh Rabbit and strawberry sandwiches, I do love French toast and was drawn to the crunchy exterior of this recipe. Marion says that is her favorite French toast recipe and that James Beard once told her they used to serve it in the dining cars on the Santa Fe Railroad – I was sold.

I actually made this recipe in the Mile High City of Denver with my friend Kendra. She was good enough to put up with me for a whole week over the 4th of July, and I absolutely loved it. It was my second trip out there, and I do love the charming brick houses, the laid back feel and the heat of their summer vs. my blustery SF one. We did a breakfast for dinner one evening with one of her girlfriends, complete with mimosas and breakfast casserole too.

I liked this toast! It had a great crunch on the outside from Corn Flakes, and I especially loved the bites with a lot of sugar that had accumulated in the crevices. Her recipe does state to use a dense white bread – and I wish mine had been denser. I used a loaf of French bread that was just a bit too light resulting in a super custardy center. Not always a bad thing, but I do like a little more solidity to my french toast. Also, be warned that there is a lot of nutmeg in this one! Kendra loved it. Me, not so much. I’ll definitely balance with some cinnamon next time. But overall a nice variation on a classic, great texture, simple to make and paired with some berries, just right for summer.

Be sure to check out the other toast recipes here:

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Marion Cunningham so unfortunately passed away last week at 90 years old. This New York Times article is a nice snippet of her background and this piece by Michael Bauer is very touching about her, and their relationship. I had no idea she was from the SF Bay Area and had such a hand in the progression of home cooking. To be honest, I didn’t know too much about her before we started this project or her passing (it was all a little before my time) but I am now so happy that we have decided to test out this book and help bring some of her to life.

J.B.’s French Toast* (4 servings)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cornflakes
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
  • 6 slices dense white bread
  • 6 tbsp sugar

Stir the eggs, milk, nutmeg, and salt together in a bowl until well blended. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a shallow bowl in which you can dip the bread easily [I skipped this step and it was just fine]

Crumble the cornflakes slightly (to make each flake about half its original size) and spread them on a piece of waxed paper [I used a shallow bowl, again, just fine]

Dip (don’t soak) both sides of each slice of bread into the milk batter. Then press each slice of bread on both sides into the cornflakes to coat the bread well.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and fry 3 slices of bread until golden on each side. When done, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon sugar on top of each slice and keep warm in a 250 degree oven while you fry the other 3 slices in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Serve hot.

*Recipe copied from The Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham, 1987

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5 thoughts on “Cook the Book: JB’s French Toast

  1. These sound do good Emily! I can’t wait to give this recipe a try! I’m thinking Saturday morning will be the perfect time. 🙂

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  2. Um. I like your version better! It was yummy, wasn’t it? 🙂 I bought my bread from a Japanese bakery – it came in a loaf so I was able to slice extra thick pieces!

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