Friday, February 24, 2012

Vanilla Cinnamon Challah French Toast

Vanilla Cinnamon Challah French Toast

Shabbat Shalom!

While I’m unfortunately not actually Jewish (thanks Birthright application board), I absolutely love most traditional Jewish foods. My many favorites include falafel, brisket, latkes, and especially challah. As you may or may not know, challah is a delicious braided bread made with eggs that is typically prepared and eaten for Shabbat. The bread has a deliciously thick crust and a slight sweetness that combine to make the best bread you will ever taste. Seriously. The best.

I first had challah last semester when Dena’s and my suitemate Bre brought some back from Hillel, and I have been in love ever since. Although I have not had much experience with making yeast breads (because let’s be honest: I am impatient and dough takes forever to rise), I really wanted to try my hand at making challah. Most recipes make at least two loaves, but I really only wanted to make one loaf because although I definitely could eat two loaves of challah, it is probably in my best interest not to.

I ain't no Challah-Back Girl...

As I was searching for a challah recipe, I saw a lot of results that mentioned challah French toast. Apparently, challah makes the BEST French toast. And everybody knew this. Except for me. So, after I made my challah bread, I knew that I had to try to make French toast as well.

The challah by the way? It turned out to be incredible. Once you have had your first taste of fresh-baked challah straight from the oven, you will never look at bread the same way again. Although you can use store-bought challah for the French toast recipe below, I’m including my challah recipe because if you can make it yourself, you definitely should. You will not regret it!

Challah Recipe:

½ cup water and ½ cup milk (the milk makes the bread a little richer and more delicious, but if you want to keep it parve/non-dairy, you can just use 1 cup water)
¼ cup butter
3-1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
(I know that this seems like a lot of sugar, but the yeast eats a lot of the sugar during fermentation so it isn’t actually that sweet afterwards. I definitely recommend adding the honey, but you certainly don’t have to!)
1-1/2 packages dry active yeast (0.25 ounce packages)
½ Tbsp. salt
3 eggs
1.      Heat milk, butter, and water in a saucepan until very warm but not boiling (boiling will cause scalding)
2.      In another bowl, combine 1.5 cups of flour, the sugars, honey, yeast, and salt. Pour warm butter mixture into flour mixture and beat well. Add 2 of the eggs one at a time, beating in between each.
3.      Add the rest of the flour gradually and beat until dough pulls together.
4.      Gather dough and knead on floured surface for about 8 minutes. The dough will start out very sticky, so don’t be afraid to add a bit more flour, and be sure to flour your hands. Eventually, the dough will become more elastic and workable.
5.      Lightly coat a bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl and flip so that dough is also coated with oil. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and let rise in warm place for one hour. Dough should double in volume.
6.      After 1 hour, punch down the dough and separate it into 3 portions. Roll each portion into a long rope. Pinch the three ropes together on one end, and then braid the strands. Once the entire loaf is braided, tuck the ends of the strands together under the edge of the loaf. Place onto greased cookie sheet, cover with damp cloth, and let rise another 40 minutes.
After Braiding and Ready to Bake!

7.      After 40 minutes, beat the last egg and brush the beaten egg evenly over the top of the loaf. Bake at 350o for 45 minutes until loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

I know letting bread rise is boring and tedious, but DO NOT SKIMP ON THE RISING TIMES!!!! Good things come to those who wait.
Heaven in Bread Form

Cinnamon Vanilla French Toast:

1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. allspice
½ tsp. nutmeg
6-8 slices challah
Powdered sugar (optional)
Chocolate Chips (technically optional)

1.      Leave challah out overnight the night before making this recipe. (Alternatively, you can just broil it for a tiny little bit to dry it out). This is important because the dry challah stands up to the egg mixture better than fresh challah.

2.      Whisk together milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, allspice, and nutmeg in wide bowl or pie pan until well-mixed.

3.      Soak each slice of challah in egg mixture for one minute per side, flipping to coat both sides.
4.      Grease skillet. Cook each slice of toast in skillet on medium heat for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.

5.      Dust French toast with powdered sugar and top with syrup and chocolate chips. Eat and enjoy!

The end result? Absolutely fantastic breakfast bliss:

<3 Lauren


  1. This looks so good! Definitely going to try making this next time I have some challah left over