For a recipe that most people assume to be a mandatory part of any adult’s kitchen repertoire—like pancakes, drop biscuits, scrambled eggs, and buttered toast—good lord is French toast easy to mess up. From the ingredients (bread too fresh or too thin, wussing out on the milk fat) to the prep (there is pain involved in good French toast, and you will come to relish it) to the actual cooking (patience, pet, patience), there’s an excellent chance that you’re doing something wrong. Let’s fix that and help you feel like a grown-up human being in charge of your own breakfast intake, shall we?
Assemble the ingredients
Ideally, you are using a nice thick-cut bread for your French toast: one-inch slices at minimum, two-inch even better. Mildly sweet breads like challah and brioche are nice, but by no means the only way to go. A day-old baguette makes lovely, sanely-sized portions with lots of crispy edges. White sandwich bread is absolutely terrible for French toast, but sometimes it’s the only option you have. If that’s the case, you should make stuffed French toast. Just make sandwiches filled with peanut butter, cream cheese, Nutella, or whatever gets you jazzed.
Next, the custard batter. Use whole milk, because skim milk is for little bitches who are missing the point of this altogether. Hell, go all in and use half-and-half. This stuff is really bad for you, so there’s really no reason to waste your time with barely adequate French toast.
Don’t bother with adding spices to your custard because they just float around and will burn during cooking. Stick to vanilla extract or a shot of booze.
Prep the bread
Proper French toast bread is old and dried out, but that requires you to know you’re going to be making this a few days out, prepping your bread, and dealing with the agony of anticipation. This is unreasonable and silly, so slice up your bread, arrange on a baking sheet, and throw into a 200°F degree oven for 10 minutes or so. Flip over, back into the oven to dry out the other side.
You need a bigger bowl than you think you do. Better still, a blender and a baking pan.
This is the point that 99% of people screw up on: You need to beat these eggs so damn well your arm near falls off. If your eggs are streaky, you get streaky toast. This is bad. Beat the eggs until they are the pale yellow of a springtime daffodil, then whisk in the milk. Or you can just throw it all in a blender and blitz until smooth, if you have bursitis.
Do you not “dip” the bread. You soak the bread. Give it at least 15 seconds a side, giving it a few gentle pushes, to suck that custard up like a sponge. Before it hits the pan, hold it up and let it drip dry for a bit. You want the bread itself to have contact with the pan so it crisps up, and it can’t so that if it’s swimming in a puddle of custard.
Cook it confidently
Many recipes will tell you to cook the French toast in butter, which will burn, so it’s a stupid instruction and should be ignored. If you’ve got ghee, use it. You can clarify some butter, but you may be too lazy for that first thing in the morning. Brushing the bottom of your nonstick or cast-iron skillet with a little bit of canola oil or cooking spray is also a great way to go.
Your pan should be on medium heat, and give it a few minutes to warm up before you go diving in with your bread. Lay it down gently, then let it cook for two minutes undisturbed before lifting up a corner and taking a peek. You need to give it a chance to brown before you start poking at it. When it’s reached the color you like, give it a flip and do the exact same thing. Slow and steady, guys. You can’t rush perfection.
If your bread is on the thick side, you may want to finish it up in the oven. Preheat to 300°F with a baking tray inside, then whenever you’re done browning you can just move the French toast to the tray with a spatula. It only needs to be in there for about five minutes, so when the next batch is done, you can swap them out. It’s a well-oiled breakfast machine.