Light and fluffy challah bread is dunked in a sweet custard bath and then pan-fried to buttery perfection. Top this french toast off with a generous portion of rich apple cinnamon compote.
It is this time of year when I get all giddy about Fall and my husband jokingly questions if my loyalties are to pumpkin pie more than they are to him. And to that, I often follow with a retort about the start of football season and me having to fend for myself every Sunday between now and February. Touché.
While he’s watching football, I am in the kitchen cooking up a storm. So here I am officially kicking off Fall with this decadent apple cinnamon challah french toast.
This Apple Cinnamon Challah French Toast is so easy to make.
Now I normally avoid spending a weekend morning in the kitchen when it could be spent under the covers instead, but this french toast is worth waking up for. It doesn’t take too long unless you were me a few weeks ago and decided making bacon, eggs, fruit salad, and hash browns was also a good idea. Me and my stomach have learned their lesson since then.
Made with mostly egg, cinnamon, bread, and milk, french toast is rich in protein and when served with fruit, it is actually not as unhealthy as you would think. Well, unless you are someone who likes to douse their french toast in syrup. Now why in the world would you do that?
How to Make the Best French Toast
Here are a few tips to ensure a perfect french toast every time.
Use the right kind of bread. Challah or brioche were made for French toast and are commonly used in restaurants, bakeries, and bistros. Challah tends to be richer and more filling. Slice the bread thicker, about 3/4 of an inch. You can also use sourdough or french bread, both of which I commonly use for my baked cranberry orange french toast. Pre-sliced sandwich bread almost always pales in comparison to any of the above, so I don’t recommend that unless it is all you have on hand.
Use a seasoned cast iron pan or griddle for the best results. The cast iron cooks the French toast at a higher temperature than a thinner pan, which helps to brown the french toast while keeping it soft and custard-like inside.
Do not soak the Challah bread for more than 15 seconds, especially if your bread is fresh. Challah bread also tends to soak up a lot of the milk mixture, so it is best to dunk each slice until half submerged, count to three, and then carefully flip it over and repeat. Don’t leave the bread submerged for more than 15 seconds total, 30 seconds if using stale bread.
Watch your french toast. If using the cast iron pan, the toast will cook quickly! Always watch your french toast and when small bubbles start to appear on top or the sides start to brown, that is your signal to flip.
Keep the french toast warm in the oven. Before you start pan-frying your french toast, preheat your oven to 250˚F and line a large sheet pan with tin foil. This is a trick I learned from Food Network’s Ina Garten. This way, you can keep your french toast warm until you serve. You’ll want to lay them out so the french toast slices do not overlap or they can get soggy.
The decadent sautéed apple topping is filled with your usual mix of fall flavors: cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar and a dash of nutmeg. It is quickly cooked over the stove but is big on flavor. The apples soak up the spices and break down into a wonderful indulgent sauce. The french toast base recipe can really be used with any topping, so feel free to mix it up or replace with one of your own.
Ok! Who is ready for weekend brunch?!
Apple Cinnamon Challah French Toast
Light and fluffy challah bread is dunked in a sweet custard bath and then pan-fried to buttery perfection. Top it off with a generous portion of rich apple cinnamon compote.
- 1 loaf Challah bread or Brioche
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 T. honey
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- butter for frying
Apple Cinnamon Compote
- 2 large apples peeled and sliced
- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 T. brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 T. butter
To Make the French Toast
In a large shallow pan or bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, honey, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg (all the French toast ingredients). Slice the Challah bread into 3/4 inch thick slices.
If using fresh bread, dip a slice into the egg mixture for about three seconds and repeat with the other side. If using stale bread, dip the slice longer, about 10-15 seconds on each side. The challah bread should not be completely submerged in the egg mixture, just halfway.
Heat a large cast iron pan or griddle over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of butter. Carefully place your slice of soaked bread in the cast iron pan or griddle. Pan-fry for about 2 minutes each side until well browned.
Repeat the above process with the remaining Challah bread slices.
To Make the Apple Cinnamon Compote
Heat 1/2 T. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add apple slices, cinnamon, vanilla extract, brown sugar, and water. Sauté for about a minute, stirring the apples slices and spices well. Occasionally mash some of the apples. Reduce and let it simmer for 5 minutes until thickened.
Serve the apple compote over the cooked french toast and drizzle with maple syrup.
Adapted from Ina Garten’s French Toast.