Golden, egg-rich challah makes the most decadent French toast, since it really soaks up the custard and adds a richness of its own. And, because the entire dish can be assembled the night before it’s popped into the oven, it’s the ideal dish for serving brunch to a house full of guests.
Meyer Lemon French Toast
Unsalted butter for greasing
1 loaf day-old challah, about 1 lb. (500 g) cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) slices
6 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) half-and-half
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
Grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
Blackberries or raspberries for garnish (optional)
Maple syrup for serving
Butter the bottom of a large sauté pan. Set aside.
In a large, shallow baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet, arrange the bread slices in a single layer.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, lemon zest and brown sugar until combined. Pour the mixture over the bread and let stand until the bread has absorbed some of the liquid, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the bread slices over and let sit until the bread absorbs the remaining liquid, 1 to 2 minutes more.
Remove the bread from the baking dish and arrange the slices in the prepared sauté pan, overlapping them slightly. Pour any of the liquid remaining in the baking dish over the bread. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).
Transfer the pan, still covered with the aluminum foil, to the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the French toast is puffy and the top of the bread is lightly browned, about 15 minutes more.
Garnish with the berries and serve immediately, passing the maple syrup alongside. Serves 6 to 8.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen