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Custard Baked French Toast

This recipe, adapted from the beautiful book Tartine Bread, is a relatively simple breakfast that has fall weekend mornings written all over it. While most French toast recipes rely on a skillet over a stovetop, Katie Howe from the blog Butter Tree has baked up a version that cooks in a custardy mixture inside the oven. It’s wonderful with maple syrup and blueberries, and we think sliced pears or figs would be nice for this time of year, too. But Katie's recent post on traveling to Berlin made us want to immediately hop on a plane—right after a hearty breakfast, of course.

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Ingredients

3 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup milk

2 slices day-old country bread, each about 1 1/2 inches thick

2 tablespoons butter, salted if you like

Directions

1. In a bowl, stir together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, salt and milk.

2. Place the bread slices in the custard base and let stand until the bread is saturated, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Melt the butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Lift each bread slice from the custard base and place in the pan. Cook the slices for about 3 minutes, occasionally pressing them against the bottom of the pan with a spatula so the bottoms cook evenly.

5. Spoon or ladle more custard base into the center of each bread slice. If the liquid leaks out of the bread and onto the skillet, the bread slices are not quite sealed. Continue cooking for 1 minute, pressing the slices slightly to seal. When the slices are full of custard base, carefully transfer the skillet to the middle rack of the oven. Do not turn the toast.

6. Bake the slices for 12 to 15 minutes and then gently shake the pan. If the custard base is still liquid, continue baking and check again. Depending on the thickness of the slices, the custard may take up to 20 minutes to cook all the way through. The French toast is done when the custard seems solid and each slice appears inflated. You could return the French toast to the stovetop after taking it out of the oven and giving it a few flips to make it even crispier around the edges.

7. Using the spatula, remove the French toast from the skillet and place them, caramelized-side up onto plates. The skillet side should be caramelized and crisp.

Serves 2

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