Sunday, June 21, 2009

Baked Challah French Toast


Never say never

Tall icy lemonade is my greatest pregnancy craving. From her first surreptitious taste, Belle was hooked. I frown on her drinking juice and consuming sugar, but “do as I say and not as I do” is not exactly my style. So, over the months of pregnancy, many evenings I let Belle share my icy lemonade. I sit on the couch head sagging and she stands leaning on the side table stirring the ice with a spoon. In these quiet moments, she spends her time inquiring. Why does the ice spin in the glass? Where is the ice going? What is ice? Her life is all inquiry and desire.

Recently, I was told by a teenager that I really don’t value my Iphone because I am not nearly as tech-savvy as he. Somewhere between age two and age 16 you get to the point that you know everything. The world has become clear, your path is known, your life solved. In that sweet spot of life, I often uttered the phrase—“I would never…” I am thankful that it was a time before cell phone video cameras and social networking so that the arrogance of youth is not captured forever. But, my mind’s eye remembers the tone and the stupid self-assurance. The black and white nature of teenhood seems to fade into grey eventually, either through maturity or complexity of life’s situations.

Strata was a word that I abhorred. Baked egg concoctions seemed like a marker of someone who had given up, of someone who felt the easy way was the right way, of someone without discerning taste. They were the sort of wives who couldn’t be bothered. Casseroles were all laziness and lack of flavor. Any time-saving baked concoction was high on my list of I would nevers.

And, then we had the baby. We still wanted to continue to entertain; we still wanted to join friends together around food. With a child who was basically nocturnal for 5 months, I was fairly confident any cooking that involved dexterity and concentration was out. And, unembarrassed, I started to look again at my pyrex baking dishes. Empathy is a difficult skill to learn; for me it was learned through experience. We haven’t gone all casserole all the time, but in a pinch a baked make ahead meal for guest is not a cop out. Actually, it is an earnest act of entertaining—instead of focusing on the food, the service or the décor, you are focusing on the fact that spending time with the guests is the supreme element in entertaining. And, it turns out many of these baked dishes are quite tasty.

Baked Challah French Toast

(reading the recipe at balance made me think about making baked french toast again.)

Toast 1 sliced loaf of challah

In a bowl combine:
8 oz cream cheese
2-3 T brown sugar
2-3 T maple sugar

Spread the cream mixture on the challah and overlap into a pan

In a large bowl mix:
6 eggs
2 yolks
2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

Pour the eggy mixutre over eggs and then weigh french toast down with another pan. Refrigerate over night.

The next morning, bake with a water bath for 60 minutes at 375 degress.

Serve with strawberries and maple syrup.


Chou said...

Hah! I remember my many "I would nevers," and finding out later that reality often says "you were wrong." I love the imagery of you and Maybelle, side by side, with a glass of lemonade. I hope a few fireflies join in at some point. Thank you for letting me know I inspired a visit to the strata-sphere. :) (bad pun apology)

Lucy said...

I have not one but TWO of those teenagers around. Luckily I am without IPhone - I'm sure they'd tell me how ridiculously inept my tech-skills are, too.

Hear, hear to food that can be prepped early - it's the company you want to enjoy mostly, I reckon.

Hugging the Coast said...

I love the idea of baked challah French eggy, so good!

Your line, "Her life is all inquiry and desire." is so eloquent and poetic.

pam said...

Gosh that looks wonderful.

I have to quibble at your cutoff point for know-everything. My daughter is 19 and definitely knows everything.

krysta said...

i love this post!!! it's funny what teenagers say but it's funny how our perceptions change as we age but sometimes our inner teenager comes out. i felt the same with casserroles a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

A baked French Toast sounds scrumptious! It's a great brunch dish for sure!

Zoë said...

What a beautiful and poignant post. I have been musing on the same things -- adolescent forthrightness to adult consideration. It has been a good and changing path.

Sophie said...

Ah, Challah! Something I've truly missed since going gluten free :(.

I know what you mean about perspectives changing after the teenage years, for me I think it was the experiences that humbled my know-it-all attitude :).

The Purple Foodie said...

I love how kids can go on asking questions until they are finally satisfied with the asnwer you give them. The challah french toast looks delicious. Reminds me that I need to start baking a challah soon for my BBA challenge.

lisaiscooking said...

Casseroles as 'given up' food. That's funny! A baked French toast is great for brunch though. Looks delicious.

Melissa said...

Great points, about teenagehood know-it-allness and about the make ahead meals. Plus, it looks really tasty MM. :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Gracious how a baby changes so many things about our lives.
I often am in wonder thinking about how "documented" children of today will be when they have their children. Yes I'm very glad there isn't more documentation on me.
Challah does make excellent French Toast.

Y said...

What a beautiful post. I do recall thinking I knew everything when I was a teenager. And now I panic because I think I don't know enough! Funny how that works...

Peter M said...

It's almost dinner time but I would have no problem supping on this...nicely plated.