Pain Perdu-United States

I work on Sundays so unfortunately we don’t get to do Sunday brunch too often, thankfully there is Park Bruges, a great restaurant here in Pittsburgh that serves brunch on Saturdays. However, making one’s own brunch is sometimes even better which is what I did this past weekend. My Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook has an entire chapter on brunch recipes all of which I knew would be delicious. I settled on Pain Perdu with Cinnamon Sugar, Blueberry Preserves, and Toasted Almonds. The authors write “With a nod to the fertile cradle of fantastic food known as New Orleans, this take on French toast will become a favorite of breakfast eaters at your kitchen table. Be sure you use challah (braided egg bread). And if you’ve got some French Quarter coffee with chicory, bring it on.”

For anyone who has made French toast before it’s not difficult to make, rather it’s more time consuming than anything else. The challah loaf that I bought was extremely large so I could only cook one slice of bread at a time. However, the effort was worth it. I wasn’t sure how I would like the taste of blueberry preserves on French toast, but it was really good. There was enough sweetness that syrup was not necessary.

Although back in the day I did used to make my own bread, challah included, time is of the essence anymore and I went with a store bought loaf. D already commented on how good the bread looked (sans the French toast makeover) and I know we’ll have some extra special tasting sandwiches for lunch this week.

Pain Perdu with Cinnamon Sugar, Blueberry Preserves, and Toasted Almonds

1/2 cup sliced almonds
8 eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 loaf challah bread, cut into 8 thick slices
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
blueberry preserves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the almonds on a rimmed sheet pan and bake for 10 minute, or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Combine the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice and stir thoroughly. This batter can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Dip the bread slices into the batter, allowing the mixture to thoroughly absorb into the bread on both sides. Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook the soaked challah for four-five minutes on each side, until golden brown. Mix together the powdered sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Serve with the blueberry sauce and toasted almonds and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.

Makes 4 servings.

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