Vanilla Cardamom Skillet French Toast

by editor on March 20, 2011

Vanilla Cardamom Skillet French Toast

I’m quite in love with the vignette of a perfect weekend morning – a fat NYT, international editions of the Guardian and Le Monde and something sweetly-scented and rustic to stab at with a fork while I consume the trials and triumphs of the week along with too much espresso. Such morning idleness, however, is a rare occurrence these days and I’m trying to spend more time enjoying the first meal of the day. Yesterday, a perfectly composed breakfast sandwich at Homegrown in Melrose Market on Seattle’s Capitol Hill – a softly fried egg, Beecher’s Flagship cheese, aioli and applewood smoked bacon. The delicate antithesis of a heavy, greasy, flavorless fry-up smashed into a tough English muffin. Today, this fragrant brioche toast baked in a skillet with a vanilla cardamom custard.

I love cardamom in sweet things. It’s just a little more complex than cinnamon, yet not too clever for breakfast time. A dominant flavor in Nordic pastry, Indian food, middle-eastern coffee and chai, it pairs beautifully with peaches, strawberries and oranges in particular.

Brioche for Vanilla Cardamom Skillet French Toast

Somewhere between a bread pudding and a french toast, this lazy weekend dish can be prepared the night before and baked in the morning (sleep in, stumble into kitchen, throw pan into oven, enjoy) or whipped up while you peruse the Sunday broadsheets and ready yourself for the week ahead. Serve with seasonal stone fruit or macerated strawberries, whipped cream or ice cream, and lots of maple syrup…

Vanilla Cardamom Skillet French Toast
Serves 2 for breakfast

8 oz day-old brioche
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp confectioners sugar

To Serve
Strawberries, fresh or frozen, or any other seasonal fruit or compote.
Maple Syrup
Whipped Cream

Special equipment
8-in cast iron skillet or 8 x 8 in baking dish.

Cut brioche into thick slices. Cut each slice into 4 triangles. Set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, salt and cardamom.

Place brioche pieces in mixture and gently press to ensure they are all soaked.

Set bowl in refrigerator for about 30 mins, until bread has absorbed egg mixture.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter an 8-in cast-iron skillet.

Arrange bread mixture in prepared skillet and bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown on top and crispy at the edges.

Dust with confectioners sugar and serve with fruit, maple syrup, whipped cream and good coffee.

Note: If you aren’t using a cast-iron skillet which could corrode overnight, you can soak the bread and egg mixture in the same dish you are baking it in and even leave it to soak overnight in the refrigerator.

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