Texas rules

When you have a kid, you start thinking about stuff that never registered much before. Like the beauty of a simple sunset and pretty horses and, wait, not that stuff. Stuff like, hmm, when I open my wallet, flies fly out. I wonder if I could lower my weekly French toast bill without compromising on quality?

I used to buy challah for French toast at Noah’s Bagels. It was good bread and made great toast. I think it was about $3.50, and it was baked fresh every Friday. Then one day they changed their formula and gave me a sad, flattened loaf. It was an April 1, I remember, because I wondered whether I was the victim of a many-braided bread hoax, another indignity visited on my people.

So I went to QFC and found they were selling much larger and less misshapen store-brand loaves of challah. The QFC bread was baked in a loaf pan, dyed yellow with annatto coloring, and not much fun to eat by itself, but by the time it in French toast batter, it was basically indistinguishable from the old Noah’s formula.

Then, a couple of months ago, the QFC brand disappeared, replaced with some natural-sounding local brand. It was good, just as good as Old Noah, but the loaves are tiny, not even enough for two weeks of toast. And the price is an outrageous $4.50.

It was time to try abandoning challah altogether and going right back to Texas. I bought a loaf of Franz Texas Toast, the thick-sliced white sandwich bread, and used my regular, Cooks Illustrated-derived batter.

As you’ve already guessed, this toast was just as good as any of the others, and the price is unbeatable. A loaf of Texas Toast is $2, and it has enough slices for three breakfasts. (Sliced bread is fine in the freezer, in a Ziploc, for several weeks.)

Here’s the recipe. Unless you’re partial to highly enriched bread for your French toast, like brioche or croissant, I’m willing to bet this is better than what you make now. All thanks to Christopher Kimball and the state of Texas.

**French Toast**
Serves 2 adults and 1 child
Adapted from The New Best Recipe

5 slices Texas Toast or other thick-sliced white sandwich bread
1 egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter, melted
3/4 cup (6 ounces) milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup (1.6 ounces) flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
additional butter

1. Crack the egg into a pie plate. Whisk in the butter, then the milk and vanilla, then the sugar, flour, and salt.

2. Place a ten- or twelve-inch skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat. Soak the bread slices in the batter for 40 seconds per side, and set them aside on a plate as you finish.

3. Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in the pan. Cook the bread slices, two at a time, until nicely browned on both sides, adjusting the heat if necessary. I find it takes about 2-1/2 minutes for the first side and 1-1/2 for the second side, but subsequent batches go faster.

4. Enjoy, with fake syrup.

12 thoughts on “Texas rules

  1. katre

    This weekend, we made French Toast sandwiches. Very tasty, and very simple. Here’s our recipe:

    Take two slices of bread, spread cream cheese on one, and fruit preserves (I used blueberry, F. used orange) on the other. Assemble into a sandwich.

    Dip the assembled sandwich into your usual french toast batter, cook as usual.

    Wait 30 seconds for it to cool, pick up, and eat like a sandwich.

    The next experiment is to do the same, but to use the sandwich machine cause we are lazy lazy lazy.

  2. mamster Post author

    I’ve heard this called “stuffed French toast” too, although I realize that can also refer to actually cutting a pocket in the bread, which is *way* too involved for breakfast. Your version sounds great.

  3. Lore

    I realize that the “Texas” referred to in your headline is the toast, not the state, but I’ve gotta say that, toast notwithstanding, the state’s mighty good for foodies too, especially here in Austin. We’ve got the mother ship of the Whole Foods stores, two GIGANTIC H.E.B. Central Market gourmet superstores, and cool restaurants galore. Though I still haven’t found a good cheap taqueria like you wrote about the other day. But it must be out there somewhere… I have faith. Faith in Texas.

  4. Lore

    You know, I hadn’t been to that one yet. It’s along a strip of lots and lots of Mexican restaurants, so it probably got lost in the shuffle. But I’ll have to give it a try. That page also lists Jovitas, which has a pretty good breakfast and music most nights.

    There’s Central Market in Seattle? Heck! You’ve just opened up another city that I’d be willing to move to! :-)

    But the Whole Foods flagship store really is different than a regular Whole Foods. They’ve got a nut roasting station, a chocolate dipping station, on-site meat smoking, and they’ll sell you beer or wine to drink while you’re shopping. It’s like a whole other world.

  5. Lauren

    I don’t think our Central Market is related to the Central Market in Austin (having been to both).

  6. Neil

    I like Trader Joe’s potato bread for french toast. It’s best when it’s not fresh, but refrigerated at least overnight (since refrigeration will stale bread faster than room temp). It will actually stay fine for several weeks in the cooler, which is great for me since I make french toast maybe once a week at the most.

    Have to say I’m shocked and saddened by the fake syrup confession.

  7. Lore

    Does it have a caviar counter? A ginormous cheese department? Produce you’ve only read about?

    It’s no Pike Place Market, but it’s pretty cool.

  8. mamster Post author

    Yep, sure enough, our Central Market is different (it’s [this one](http://www.central-market.com/)).

    Neil, welcome and thanks for the tip. Without Neil’s permission, I’m going to tell you that he’s a pastry chef at Robuchon in Las Vegas, and back when he lived in Seattle, before he graduated first in his class from pastry school, I used to get to eat his desserts pretty much every week.

    Things have kind of sucked around here since he moved away.

    Anyway, if Neil wasn’t disappointed in my syrup orientation, I’d be worried about him.

  9. Neil

    Pastry COOK, please. If they thought I was passing myself off as a chef, I would probably be laughed at or yelled at. Or both.

  10. Iain

    This is belated but what the hell. I find it weird and interesting how the US and UK will often have similar foods except with sweet and savoury swapped. I don’t have a problem with your cheapskate syrup except that syrup is kind of a funny thing to put on french toast in the first place.

    Have you tried this with ketchup instead of syrup? I’d normally leave the sugar out of the batter mix, too, since ketchup is normally over-sweetened already.

  11. mamster Post author

    Iain, ketchup on French toast sounds like the worst thing in the world. Worse than terrorism, slavery, famine, and Benny Hill.

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