Everyone knows that french toast is a quick and easy option for breakfast or brunch. It’s simple. Start with bread, dip it in a combination of egg and milk, then fry it in butter. It’s easy enough to make, but how do you make it decadently delicious without drowning it in extra butter and syrup? It’s all about having the right recipe and the best french bread making method. Once you try this vanilla french toast with a hint of cardamom, you’ll never settle for basic french toast again.
Originally appearing on the blog in February 2016, the recipe was last updated in June 2019.
Some days just scream out for sleeping in, relaxing on the couch, and lazy breakfasts that taste like they took a lot of work but really come together in minutes. French toast is definitely one of those breakfasts.
Vanilla french toast, however, isn’t just any french toast. This french toast has a rich, eggy custard that is laced with hints of vanilla and cardamom, which make it more decadently delicious than most.
It’s the french toast that you serve for special occasions, like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, but it’s also the breakfast you can turn to when you need something on the table now.
Serve your’s with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzling of maple syrup, add fresh fruit or candied pecans, or just eat it plain. No matter how you like it, this vanilla french toast is a delicious way to start your weekend off right.
How to Make Vanilla French Toast
Like many simple recipes, the secret to amazing results is having the right ingredients and the right preparation method. When it comes to making french toast some people claim that the most important part is the bread. Others say it’s all about the milk and egg custard. I would argue that while both are important, neither is more important than the preparation method.
The truth is that you have to cover all the important parts: the bread, the custard, the double dip, and how you cook it. Together these four components will help you take your french toast from bland, boring, and run of the mill to decadently delicious.
The Best Bread for French Toast
When it comes to the best bread for french toast, my recommendation is to look for unsliced loaves of challah or brioche. These eggy bread loaves are rich and flavorful on their own, which compliments the eggy custard soak perfectly. Can’t find brioche or challah? Look for the following:
- Look for something that is sturdy enough to hold it’s shape after the custard soak. It shouldn’t have too fine of a crumb or smush easily when you pick it up. (No standard white breads!)
- Unsliced loaves are best, but if it is sliced look for thicker slices that are about one inch thick. Thinner slices will fall apart, while thicker ones can absorb too much custard, making them more difficult to cook.
- If you want that pillowy soft custard like inside, don’t choose a bread that is super chewy or has a thick crust. (Yes, this includes french bread.)
- It should taste good!
Baking Soda – The Key to Fluffy French Toast
Baking soda is not common in french toast, but it’s definitely there for a reason. The baking soda is going to react instantly to the heat of the pan and cause the custard soaked bread to puff up. This is the difference between thin wimpy french toast and fluffy decadent french toast. It’s not essential to making french toast, but it is essential to making french toast better.
The Milk and Egg Custard
The batter for french toast is super simple. Made mainly of eggs and milk, it’s a basic custard recipe. While some recipes don’t add much to it, others, like this one, dial it up a notch with extra ingredients for extra flavor. My recipe is built off of the ratio of one egg and one tablespoon of milk for every two slices of bread. It gives the best results without leaving you with a lot of extra batter.
Soaking vs. Double Dipping
Many, many recipes will tell you to soak your bread in the custard. Please, please, please only do this if you are working with tough, chewy, or stale bread.
When you soak the bread in the custard it gives the bread extra time to soak up more custard. While that may sound great on the surface, it can lead to soggy french toast that is difficult to cook. You’ll need to work with a lower temperature to ensure the outside doesn’t burn before the inside is cooked.
In my kitchen I’m a big fan of the double dip. Not only does it give your bread a chance to soak up just the right amount of custard, it allows the custard the chance to soak into the bread just enough without over saturating it.
To double dip: pour the custard into a shallow bowl or large plate. Place the bread into the custard, wait two seconds, flip it. Repeat it a second time so that both sides are dipped twice.
Cast Iron Makes Better French Toast
You can make french toast in any frying pan, skillet, or griddle, but if you have cast iron, use it! Just like searing steak, the frying french toast in cast iron just works better.
It does a better job of transferring the heat, meaning your french toast will cook faster and give you those gorgeously delicious sear marks. I don’t have a cast iron griddle, but my 12″ cast iron skillet holds about 3 slices at a time.
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Vanilla French Toast Recipe
Vanilla french toast is a decadently delicious way to celebrate mother’s day, father’s day, and birthdays alike. It’s simple bread and custard recipe with a few added ingredients to take it from everyday to gourmet.
Serve yours with fresh fruit, nuts, maple syrup, powdered sugar, or whipped cream. I like mine with a green smoothie, like a cucumber avocado smoothie or a kiwi pear smoothie. For more delicious breakfast ideas check out my Maple Hazelnut Homemade Granola or see my breakfast and brunch recipes collection.
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- 8 slices challah or brioche bread
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- butter for frying
- Preheat a 12" cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla bean paste, cardamom, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl
- Working with two slices at a time, pour about 1/4 of the custard mixture into a plate or shallow bowl. Place each piece of bread in the custard, let sit 2 seconds then flip to the other side and let sit two seconds. Flip two more times so that each side is coated twice.
- Add 1 - 2 tsp of butter to the heated pan and allow it to melt and coat the pan. Place the first two slices of dipped bread into the skillet and fry 2 - 3 minutes, then flip. Cook the remaining side an additional 2 - 3 minutes. The surface will crisp up and turn a medium golden brown. If it's cooking too fast, lower the heat. Adjust the cook time as needed.
- Repeat from step three with the next two slices until all eight slices have been double dipped and fried.
- Serve with fresh fruit, nuts, powdered sugar, maple syrup, or whipped cream.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 2 slices
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 404 Total Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 262mg Sodium: 666mg Carbohydrates: 47g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 4g Protein: 16g