French F*ckin’ Toast


Welcome ladies, gentlemen, and gentlemen pretending to be ladies on the internet. In this special installment, I will be showing you how to make french toast from scratch. Not scratch as in “go buy a loaf of brioche and some eggs”, but as in “go buy some flour and yeast and make some real fuckin french toast”. That’s right, from flour to french toast, all doable in the safety and comfort of your own home.

This installment will be divided into two sections: the first detailing how to make baguettes, and the second detailing how to make french toast out of your baguettes. If you just want to make baguettes you can just read the first part, and if you only want to make french toast you can go out and buy a loaf of bread and skip ahead to the second part. If you plan to follow the entire process, you should know that you will need [b]roughly 24 hours[/b] to go from flour to french toast, so plan accordingly if timing is an issue. Most of this time is just waiting time.

Part I: The Baguette

Before We Begin: As in the ghetto cook tradition, this recipe has been cheap-assified so that I don’t cross the line from poor as fuck over into dead broke. I’m using regular unbleached all-purpose flour instead of bread flour. Read on to find out what’s the difference and what you can do if you’ve got bread flour instead of all-purpose flour.

Also, a word on bread machines: Fuck Bread Machines. They won’t ever help you become better at bread making, and if you can afford to own one you might as well just buy the fucking french toast right from the fucking store.

Salt not pictured. But fuck if that's the only thing missing in your house you probably shouldn't be cooking. At all. Ever.

Ingredients:

4+ cups All Purpose Flour*
1 1/2 cups warm water, between 110-120F**
1 oz yeast, roughly a teaspoonful or so
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
Oil, any edible, liquid kind

You will also need: A medium-sized mixing bowl capable of holding all the ingredients, a second mixing bowl OR a deep pot, some form of measuring cup, a large, flat, clean surface for working the dough, a baking sheet, parchment paper OR aluminum foil.

*Okay, this stuff is pretty cheap. If you’ve got or can afford bread flour, I highly recommend you use that stuff instead, and a separate recipe such as this one (Youtube; three parts). Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour. This means that it can hold more water (uses a different flour-to-water ratio), and produces a better baguette in general. All bakery baguettes use bread flour.
**Very important that the temperature is in this range. Higher temperatures will kill the yeast, lower temperatures will prevent proper development.

Procedure:

Begin by dumping the yeast and sugar into the mixing bowl. The sugar is there to provide food for the yeast and kick start its activation. Pour 1 1/2 cups of warm water into the yeast/sugar mixture and cover with a lid/towel/something for 5 minutes.

A nice warm vomit color, goes well with the wallpaper.

This step serves two purposes: it proofs the yeast to test to see if it is working and it mixes part of the required ingredients together. At the end of 5 minutes, there should be a layer of foam on top of the water, like this:

Billions of yeast cells eating, drinking, shitting, and fucking, brought to you uncensored by yours truly.

If there is no foam on top of the water, that means either your water is of the wrong temperature or the yeast is no longer active. You should start over until you get the foam.

Gradually mix four cups of flour, initially with the help of a spatula or spoon and later with your hands, until they are all incorporated. You can either mix the salt into the flour before adding the flour to the yeast water mixture, or after the flour is incorporated. Do NOT add salt directly into the yeast/water mixture, as that will kill all the yeast instantly and you’ll have to restart.

You know, bakers and drug dealers aren't so different at times...

When the dough has become a coherent mass, dump it out onto a flat, floured surface and begin kneading the dough. If you are using all-purpose flour, 4 cups of flour should be just perfect to absorb 1 1/2 cups of water so that you can work the dough without it being sticky. If the dough is sticky for you, feel free to gradually flour the board and your hands until it is no longer sticky.

Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. What you basically want to do is stretch the dough without tearing it, then fold the dough back unto itself, rotate the dough, and stretch it out again. If you google on how to knead the dough you’ll find everyone uses a different method, so pick one that works for you. As you knead, the dough will become smoother. At the end of the kneading process, shape the dough into a ball.

Hairless

As you can see, my ball of dough isn’t completely smooth. This is because I’ve only recently begun to make bread so my kneading skills and baking knowledge aren’t that high. Also, if you use bread flour you should end up with a smoother dough. If your dough ended up rather rough or crappy, don’t worry, you’ll get better with practice.

Grab your second mixing bowl/deep pot, and lightly oil the surface. Place your ball of dough into the pot and roll it around to cover it in oil. Cover the bowl/pot. Let sit for 90 minutes.

At the end of 90 minutes, your dough should have at least doubled. Gently punch the dough down to deflate it, and transfer dough from pot back onto your flat work surface.

Do this gently, no falcon punches.

At this point, you can either make one long baguette, two shorter ones, or three even shorter ones. I generally divide the dough into three so the loaves can fit on the baking sheet. Prepare your baking sheet by covering with parchment paper/aluminum foil. Liberally flour the surface if you are using aluminum foil. Roll each portion of dough into a long, thin loaf shape. You may wish to Youtube for shaping instructions by professional bakers for this process, since its complicated and better seen than read. Transfer the loafs onto your baking sheet and diagonally score thrice at equidistant intervals, like this:

You're almost home free

Let the loaves sit for another 20 minutes so that they can rise. Meanwhile, prepare your oven. Ideally, you should rearrange the racks in your oven so that there is one rack right in the middle, and another rack below the middle rack. Place an oven-safe pan or pot on the rack below the middle rack, and fill it with water. This will provide a nice steam bath that will help your loaves get a nice crust and soft chewy center. Pre-heat your oven to 500F, which should be as hot as most ovens would go.

At the end of 20 minutes, your loaves should have grown a bit in size:

Fahrenheit 451: the temperature at which books burn, and bread is undercooked

Pop the suckers into the oven for about 15 minutes. BE VERY CAREFUL AT THIS POINT IN TIME. All ovens behave differently and vary in temperatures differently. Start checking on your bread at about the 10-12 minute mark. As soon as the crust is golden brown, that shit is DONE and you pull it out of the oven. It’s very easy to burn the crust.

A bit rough around the edges :/ Still working on it.

Transfer the loaves onto a plate or some other surface and flip them over. This will prevent steam buildup from immediately softening the crust. Your baguettes are now ready for consumption.

Ideally, your baguette should be chewy and airy on the inside with a nice crust on the outside. It shouldn’t be dense on the inside, although if you are using all-purpose flour and/or have inadequate kneading skills that is unavoidable. Keep practicing and your baguettes will turn out better every time.

Possible Serving Suggestion

Slice diagonally, rub butter and garlic on both sides, toast for 3-4 minutes per side at medium heat in a dry pan.

Part I Fin

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Part II: French Toast

This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe for french toast found here. If you know who this guy is, you know he knows what the fuck he’s doing. This is also the first recipe I’ve found that’s quick and easy to follow and doesn’t require shit like soaking overnight or w/e shenanigans. Feel free to follow his recipe if you want to “do it right”. I’ve switched around a couple of ingredients and other things since I like to play fast and loose with my recipes. Explanation for ingredient switches will be detailed below.

If you have skipped part 1 and decide to follow part 2 with store-bought bread, you can use any sturdy bread with a nice defined crust. The bread I’m using specifically is a baguette. Other breads/rolls can work if they’re sturdy, which means no Wonderbread or shit like that.

Preparation for french toast begins roughly 24 hours ahead of time, 12 hours if you live in a dry climate. Diagonally slice your loaves into about 1 inch slices, as many slices as you’re preparing to serve. Spread them out in the open on a clean surface to stale.

Your loadout for this mission

Ingredients:

1 egg per 4-5 slices of toast
1 cup milk (any type, I used skim) per 4-5 slices of toast*
3/4 cup sugar per 4-5 slices of toast
1/2 tsp salt
Margarine or Butter
Cinnamon (optional)
Vanilla Extract (optional)
Slices of your dried out bread

You will also need: 1 deep, flat-bottomed container or pan, 1 non-stick pan, 1 oven, 1 baking sheet, aluminum foil.

*The original recipes calls for half-and-half. Skim isn’t as tasty, but works fine.

Procedure:

Combine egg(s), milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla in your deep container with the flat bottom and beat until uniform. This will form your basic custard in which you will soak the bread.

Hmm, this is the second time in recent memory that a recipe begins with a vomit colored liquid

Take your pieces of bread and soak them in the custard for 30 seconds per side. If the slices of bread float, and they probably will, press then into the custard with your hands and wiggle around lightly to work out the air bubbles. Don’t worry of the slices are not completely drenched.

Water boarding is torture, but custard boarding is delicious

Feel free to place the soaked slices wherever is convenient for now. For me, I have my baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and already lightly oiled to prevent the slices from sticking, like this:

Look at me I'm white and soggy...

At this point, I find that the slices can still absorb some custard. Take a spoon, and spoon a small amount of custard onto each slice of bread. Meanwhile, fire up your stove to medium heat and melt 1 tbsp of butter in the pan. Fry the slices of bread 2 slices at a time for 3-4 minutes per side, until the flat surfaces are golden brown. Do not be afraid to replenish the butter if your slices are absorbing the oil, especially since you’re using skim milk like I am. I find that 1 tbsp of butter will fry approximately 4 slices of toast. At the same time, preheat your oven to 375F.

AKA Freedom Toast, for the true Americans.

Place the fried slices on the oiled, aluminum foiled baking sheet. Once all the slices are fried, pop the suckers into the oven for 5 minutes.

The Magnificent Seven. Before their descent into the dark fiery pit.

After 5 minutes, remove slices from oven and serve immediately. Goes well with any type of syrup, jam, or fruit compote. If you don’t have anything like that on hand and are feeling economical, sift a couple of spoonfuls of flour and dump a couple of spoonfuls of sugar into the remaining custard you have. Heat over low heat in a small pot while stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Dip with french toast.

The Result

After the oven treatment. Nothing's changed appearance-wise, so uhh, yeah...

5 / 5 Are you expecting anything less? Even with skim milk, these are the best french fuckin’ toast I’ve ever tasted. Frying them in butter more than makes up for not using half and half. Seriously, try this shit out, even if you skip the first part and use store bought baguettes. You won’t regret it.

Whew, that was a pretty long entry. Hopefully reading this will encourage you to try the recipe out when you have time!

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