French toast enjoys a wide and varied history, and food history enthusiasts will find that the combination of beaten egg, day-old bread and good seasonings pop up in the traditional cooking of peoples across the globe, from Germany to Brazil, and is first referenced in Apicius - a collection of Roman recipes first recorded in the late 4th century. And why not? It's a perfect use for day-old bread, where its very staleness equates to an improved result.
For us, sourdough French Toast is a compromise foods in many ways. We don't often consume sweeteners, natural or otherwise; after all, sweeteners were rarely used among populations thriving on their native, traditional diets outside of celebratory ritual1, but, from time to time, we indulge - and this recipe is no exception. It's wickedly indulgent - combining the richness of eggs and cream with the sweetness of maple syrup; moreover it's a good source of manganese2 - a nutrient that plays a critical role in many biological functions but is particularly important in bone formation, healing and collagen formation. Maple syrup, particularly the darker and cloudier syrups, offer some antioxidant activity3. That said, it is still a concentrated sweetener, natural as it may be, and should be used with a wise and thrifty hand.
Sourdough French Toast
- Line a baking dish with six to eight slices whole grain sourdough bread cut ½-inch thick.
- In a separate bowl, whisk grade beaten eggs, whole milk and maple syrup together with cinnamon, vanilla extract and a dash unrefined sea salt until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the seasoned and sweeten egg mixture over the sliced sourdough bread and allow the slices to soak for about five to ten minutes.
- In the meantime, heat a tablespoon of the clarified butter in a skillet over a medium-high flame until it melts, then reduce the heat to medium before gently adding soaked bread into the hot fat.
- Gently fry the bread on one side for about two minutes, or until it browns, then flip it to fry the other side for two minutes or so.
- Plate and serve hot with nuts, fruit, maple syrup, honey, yogurt or cream as desired.