french toast recipe with figs, orange mascarpone and almonds

3 french toast recipes for the ultimate decadent at-home brunch

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From bacon and banana to vegan coffee and cream, you’ll want to make these french toast recipes on repeat. 

Earlier this month, London saw the opening of Crome London: a neon-adorned restaurant near Bond Street dedicated entirely to french toast. It’s fair to say that the menu has been designed to be as attention-grabbing as possible, with toppings ranging from caramelised banana and Lotus Biscoff (yum) to chilli cheese cheeto (yes, as in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, the crisps). So far, so social media-friendly.

But while french toast might be having a moment in 2021, the classic brunch recipe is an incredibly old dish – and there’s a surprising amount of debate about whether it originated in France at all. Some culinary historians point to a 4th century Roman cookbook that contains instructions for soaking “fine white bread” in milk and beaten egg as one of the earliest written examples of a french toast-esque recipe. Similar dishes also appeared under different names across Europe throughout the Middle Ages.

Regardless of french toast’s origins, though, there’s one thing we can all agree on: that it’s delicious. At its simplest, it requires just four ingredients – bread, milk, eggs and some butter or oil to grease the frying pan – which might help explain why the dish has endured for so long. But if you want to take things up a notch and make some truly spectacular french toast at home, we have three recipes to share below. 

For a classic brunch spread, start with Theo Michaels’ french toast “with all the trimmings”: an intensely savoury-sweet combination of streaky bacon, fried bananas, fresh berries, maple syrup and icing sugar. Just make sure the bread is thickly sliced so that it doesn’t collapse under the weight of all those toppings.

If you stick to a plant-based diet, you don’t have to miss out on the fun – just try Katy Beskow’s vegan coffee and cream french toast. Rather than being soaked in whisked eggs, the bread is dipped in a sweet batter made from almond milk, maple syrup and coffee, then crowned with vegan vanilla ice cream.

Classiest of all, perhaps, is the recipe for french toast with honey-roast figs, orange mascarpone and toasted almonds. Sliced brioche is saturated in a mixture of eggs, milk, vanilla and sugar, and capped off with toasted fruit, nuts and a dollop of citrusy cream cheese. All that’s left to do is set the table – enjoy. 

  • French toast with all the trimmings

    french toast with bacon recipe banana and berries
    French toast recipes: Theo Michaels’s french toast with bacon, banana and berries

    Theo Michaels says: “This is a staple brunch dish in the bedlam that is a morning in the Michaels’ household. Easier to make than pancakes (and less messy when the kids ‘help’) but just as tasty. Serve hot with all the trimmings – a few berries and lashings of maple syrup. They will go quickly!”

    Makes 4 slices

    Ingredients

    • 12 rashers smoked pancetta
    • 4 just-ripe bananas
    • butter, for cooking
    • 4 eggs
    • 4 large slices of thick-cut white bread
    • pure maple syrup, for drizzling
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • any fresh berries, to serve
    • icing sugar, to dust (optional)

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.

    Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

    Arrange the strips of pancetta on top of a sheet of baking parchment and then lay a second sheet of baking parchment over the top, pat it down to stick to the pancetta and then pop it into the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until the pancetta is cooked and crispy. (Placing the baking parchment on top helps to keep the rashers flat.)

    Try to buy bananas that are just ripe because if they are too soft they tend to break up in the pan. Peel them and cut in half lengthways.

    Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan and, once it’s melted, lay the bananas in the pan, cut-side down. Fry them for a few minutes until they have turned slightly golden and you can smell them.

    Carefully turn them over using a fish slice and cook for a few minutes more, before removing them from the pan and setting aside.

    Pour away any excess butter from the pan, but don’t wipe it.

    Whisk the eggs in a wide-rimmed bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper.

    Working with one slice of bread at a time, dip it into the beaten eggs letting it soak for a few seconds, then coat the other side of the bread before laying it into the hot pan to cook for a few minutes on each side.

    Repeat until all of your bread is transformed into french toast.

    Top each slice of toast with crispy pancetta and a few slices of fried banana.

    Drizzle maple syrup over the top, letting it meander down the sides, and add a few fresh berries, then add a little dusting of icing/confectioners’ sugar, if you fancy it.

    From Share: Delicious Sharing Boards For Social Dining by Theo Michaels (£16.99, Ryland Peters & Small), out now 

  • Coffee and cream french toast

    vegan french toast recipe with coffee cream
    French toast recipes: Katy Beskow’s coffee and cream french toast

    Katy Beskow says: “Serve this indulgent delight for breakfast, brunch or dessert (or any time in between).”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
    • 1 rounded tsp strong instant coffee granules
    • 2 tsp boiling water
    • 200ml sweetened almond milk
    • 2 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 100g plain flour
    • 4 slices of thick white bread
    • 4 tsp caster sugar
    • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    • ½ tsp cocoa powder
    • 4 scoops of vegan vanilla ice cream

    Method

    Heat the sunflower oil in a griddle pan over a medium heat while you prepare the batter.

    Add the coffee granules and boiling water to a large bowl to dissolve the grains. Pour in the almond milk, syrup, vanilla extract and flour, and use a balloon whisk to mix the batter until smooth.

    Dip a slice of bread into the batter and coat on both sides, then use tongs to place on the hot griddle pan.

    Turn after 2 minutes and cook until golden and crisp.

    Repeat with each slice of bread, keeping the other slices warm on top of each other on a plate lined with kitchen paper to soak up excess oil.

    When all the bread has been grilled, arrange on plates.

    Mix together the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder, and sprinkle over the toasts.

    Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve.

    From 15 Minute Vegan Comfort Food: Simple & Satisfying Vegan Recipes by Katy Beskow (£15, Quadrille), out now

  • French toast with honey-roast figs, orange mascarpone and toasted almonds

    french toast recipe with figs, orange mascarpone and almonds
    French toast recipes: french toast with figs, orange mascarpone and almonds

    Nothing says ‘Saturday morning’ better than french toast. The orange mascarpone cuts perfectly through the thick, eggy brioche and you can flavour the figs with your favourite honey – rose, vanilla and ginger all work well.

    Serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 125ml mascarpone
    • 2 tbsp single cream
    • ½ tsp grated orange zest, plus extra to serve
    • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
    • 4 ripe figs, cut in half lengthways
    • clear honey, to drizzle
    • 100g whole almonds
    • 2 eggs
    • 100ml milk
    • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1 tbsp caster sugar
    • 2–4 thick slices of brioche
    • unsalted butter, for frying
    • icing sugar, for dusting

    You’ll also need:

    • 2 baking sheets, greased and lined with baking parchment

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

    Mix the mascarpone with the cream, orange zest and juice in a small mixing bowl. Cover and set aside or in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

    Place the figs, cut-side up, on one of the prepared baking sheets. Drizzle with honey and roast in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes until soft and caramelized.

    Remove from the oven and set aside until you are ready to serve.

    Meanwhile, scatter the almonds on the other baking sheet and bake in the same oven for 8–10 minutes until lightly golden.

    Remove from the oven, cool completely then roughly chop.

    To make the french toast, whisk together the eggs with the milk in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and caster sugar, and whisk again.

    Transfer to a shallow dish and set aside.

    Melt a little butter in a large frying pan set over a medium heat.

    Dip each slice of brioche in the egg mixture one at a time. Let the slices soak up the egg mixture for a few seconds, then turn over to coat the other side.

    Place the egg-soaked brioche slices in the hot pan and cook until golden on the bottom.

    Turn over and cook for a few minutes longer until each side is golden.

    Transfer to a clean baking sheet and put in the still-warm oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining slices.

    Cook the remaining toasts in the same way, adding a little more butter to the pan each time, if required.

    To serve, cut the brioche in half diagonally. Overlap the triangles on the plate and top with the honey roast figs, orange mascarpone and toasted almonds.

    Sprinkle with a little extra orange zest and dust with icing sugar.

    From Surf-Side Eating: Relaxed Recipes Inspired By Coastal Living by Ryland Peters & Small (£16.99, Ryland Peters & Small), out now 

Photography: Mowie Kay/© Ryland Peters & Small; © Dan Jones

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