This story started with an urge to get out an explore the town we’ve lived in for just over two years. It is much more usual to drive around here but I found myself missing the days when we lived in London and I could set off for the day with my baby in his stroller and wander. So I strapped that London baby’s younger, American born brother into that same stroller for a morning of exploring.
We found ourselves outside a tiny hole in the wall Kosher bakery I’d never seen before. I couldn’t resist having a look in and the owner, a man in his sixties spotted me peering through the door. There started a twenty-minute chat with this lovely man. We chatted about his shop, his journey to America 40 years ago, his family in my hometown in England and how he made his Challah (a traditional Jewish bread, enriched with eggs (but not milk) and braided). He pressed freshly baked almond cookies into my delighted son’s hands and insisted I try his Challah which was fresh out of the oven. Oh my. It was so good, brioche-like and so much nicer than any I’d had before. He insisted I take a loaf with me and refused payment. He also offered for me to go back one day and bake with him. I’m tempted to take him up on it.
As soon as he gave me the loaf I knew what I’d do with it. My internal recipe database (I know, tragic) whirred into action and I remembered a recipe for Challah French toast in Gwyneth Paltrow’s first book. I also thought of a delicious bread and butter pudding I’d eaten made with brioche and of the thin pancakes we eat in England with lemon and sugar. No question what we’d be having for breakfast the next day.
This bread makes the most perfectly fluffy French toast, custardy within and the lemon zest really lifts it into another level of gorgeousness.
Lemony Challah French toast (serves 6-8) adapted from the recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s – My Fathers Daughter
Prep time – 5 minutes
Cooking time – 5-10 minutes depending on the size of your pan and how many batches you cook
1 loaf of Challah (or at a pinch, brioche)
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (480ml) milk
2 tablespoons butter
3 lemons, zested and then cut into wedges to serve
1. Cut the bread into roughly 3/4 inch slices
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla.
3. Heat a large frying pan then add half of the butter. While the butter melts, dip the slices of bread into the eggy mixture.
4. Put the slices of egg soaked bread into the pan and cook over a medium high heat for around 3 minutes or until the underside is golden. Then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Remove and keep warm (or allow them to be devoured) while you cook the rest, add more butter to the pan each time before adding the bread.
5. Serve with a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of lemon. I think these would also be delicious with berries and lemon curd or with the traditional American topping of maple syrup.