French Toast Madness

French Toast and it's variations--Lost Bread, Pain Perdu, Pain Dore (or Golden Bread)--and even Bread Pudding, in my book, are all about the same thing--bread soaked in a custard and cooked. With the pudding, we use the oven to bake slowly until it's puffed up into a golden-brown cloud of deliciousness. For the variations on a theme of French Toast, we fry slowly in a heavy skillet or non-stick pan. Ultimately, if you have a good recipe and a little time and patience, you end up with a golden-brown pillow of custard, which is supported by the crust of the bread. This is where the similarities end and where the differences begin.

The custard for bread pudding is sweetened and sometimes plumped raisins are stirred in. When the cooked pudding has cooled enough to handle, you spoon a generous portion into a bowl and top it off with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

French toast, on the other hand, is made with an unsweetened or very lightly sweetened custard. Once out of the pan, it's given just the right amount of authentic maple sugar and a bit of butter for clean-plate club consumption.

French Toast Bread Pudding
I'm a big fan of Ina Garten, a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa. She's smart, creative and practical. How? A great example is a recipe that she developed for French Toast Bread Pudding. Now that is easy!

French Toast-cake (pancake)
My own creative solution uses bread torn into large chunks and soaked in the custard. Once the bread's absorbed most of the custard, I pour the whole thing into a buttered skillet, cook one side and flip it like an omelette. Once the second side is golden-brown and a little crispy, I look for the French Toast-cake to puff up a bit and I slide it onto a large serving plate.

The French Toast-cake puffs up like an omelette.

Your favorite recipe for French Toast
Well-seasoned cast iron skillet or a good non-stick pan
Butter, to taste
Maple syrup, to taste

A little butter and authentic maple syrup are the only toppings to French Toast-cake perfection.

Use your favorite French Toast recipe, but make sure that you use large chunks of French bread or something similar. My version of French Toast looks a lot like an omelette, but tastes like a souffle of French Toast! Easy AND mmmmmmm!!!